Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE)


WPI is a proud partner in the work of the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE), a research-practice partnership within the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. Our participation in the COACHE Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey and the Faculty Retention and Exit Survey signals our commitment to understand and improve the experience of diverse faculty at WPI as well as to contribute to collective inquiry, insight, and action in these areas across higher education in the U.S.

Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey

Since 2014, WPI has been a regular participant in the COACHE faculty job satisfaction survey as part of our commitment to continuous improvement. Our process engages faculty governance, faculty-at-large, the President, Provost, Deans, Department Heads, and other stakeholders in making sense of the data and acting on it. COACHE data were the primary driver in a major effort to reform our Associate-to-Full promotion system to recognize and reward a broader of faculty work, for faculty on and off the tenure track. Data compiled as part of our ADVANCE grant show that changes in policy and practices are making a difference.

WPI is participating in the survey in spring 2024 to monitor progress and to identify current strengths and weaknesses. We will use the data to initiate conversations and to take actions toward our goal of making WPI a place where all faculty members thrive.

Following are answers to FAQs for WPI faculty:

Who is invited to participate in the survey?

All full-time faculty members who had active appointments in fall semester 2023 will be invited to participate. This includes both teaching-mission and dual-mission tenure-track and tenured faculty, and both teaching-track and research-track faculty. For the first time in 2024, WPI has chosen to include faculty with full-time research appointments so that we can begin to understand the range of experience of these faculty and prioritize areas for improvement..

What does the survey address?

The standard COACHE survey goes well beyond aspects of "job satisfaction" to include satisfaction with the workplace. work environment, and leadership and governance of the institution. Results are organized into benchmarks that include nature of work (teaching, research, service), resources and support (facilities, policies, benefits), cross-silo characteristics and mentorship, tenure and promotion, institutional leadership, shared governance, department environments, and appreciation and recognition.

In addition, we will be deploying some WPI-only custom questions that were developed by a working group that included two members of the Committee on Governance (COG), two from the Committee on Teaching and Research Faculty (CTRF), and the Director and Senior Research and Evaluation Associate in the Morgan Teaching and Learning Center. In consultation with COACHE staff, this working group crafted questions to learn more about implementation of our new teaching path to tenure, perceptions of faculty influence and agency, sense of belonging, feelings of academic freedom and respect, and supports for professional growth.

What value will the survey provide?

The report that we receive from COACHE includes external comparisons that will enable us to compare our results to the entire cohort of COACHE partner institutions as well as five peer institutions that we select.

For the first time at WPI, we will be able to disaggregate the experiences of four different tracks of faculty using a custom variable: research track, teaching track, teaching-mission tenure track, and dual-mission tenure track. In addition, the standard COACHE report will include internal comparisons by tenure status, academic rank, gender, race/ethnicity, comparisons across schools, and a longitudinal comparison of the 2024 and 2021 data sets. 

All of these features will help us identify the strengths and weaknesses felt by different groups of faculty, start conversations that generate understanding and further insight, and tailor actions accordingly.

Who will have access to the survey results and how will we act on them?

WPI is committed to transparency and providing internal access to the survey data. Shortly after the report is received by the Provost’s Office in summer 2024, it will be shared with all members of the WPI community on our COACHE Canvas site. 

In fall 2024, a faculty Steering Committee will be formed to lead the first phase of communication and engagement in the data: engaging the community in the top-level survey findings, starting initial conversations, and recommending priority areas for additional inquiry and action based on top-level survey results and community input. Faculty governance committees may also discuss data related to their charge and suggest actions. 

The Senior Research and Evaluation Associate in the Morgan Teaching and Learning Center will partner with faculty groups to decide on additional qualitative data gathering and qualitative and/or quantitative data analyses, to assist with sense making and action planning in high priority areas.

What about the timing of the survey? How should we respond to survey questions about leadership when there are leadership transitions?

We encourage faculty to think of the 2024 COACHE report as a “letter to the President” after her first year and a “letter to the incoming Provost" about areas of strength and needs for improvement across their work environment. From this perspective, our participation in 2024 is well-timed. As we currently have an interim Provost, faculty can respond to questions about that position by honing in on the communications, operations, and outputs of the Provost’s Office as much as the individual holding the position.

Will anyone know what my responses are?

No. In short, WPI is not involved in the collection or processes of individual responses. A small team at Harvard Graduate School of Education will enter contact information into the survey platform and, while the platform will track who has not yet responded in order to send reminders, names will not be recorded alongside responses. No one at WPI will have access to individual-level data at any point in the process of collaborating on this survey.

In more detail: 

Protections for confidentiality and anonymity of your responses have been reviewed and approved by the Harvard and WPI Institutional Review Boards (Harvard IRB 11858, WPI 21-0299).

Confidentiality and anonymity are assured in all COACHE analyses and reports. Names and email addresses are used only by the COACHE team at Harvard, to remind respondents to begin or to complete their survey. When the survey report is sent to WPI, only aggregate data are shown in the report. No identifiers are matched to reported responses, and no disaggregated data will be presented for any subgroup with fewer than five respondents.

COACHE will also provide our campus with the de-identified unit-record database. The data provided to WPI will be kept on a secure server by the Director of Institutional Research (IR). The Director of IR will be authorized to provide access to the de-identified data set for those wishing to explore and analyze the data to assist with planning and developing policies and practices across campus that improve the WPI workplace for the faculty. Only aggregated data with cell sizes of five respondents or more will be reported, so that individual faculty cannot be identified.


How long does the survey take to complete and how long do I have access?

Most people complete the survey in less than 25 minutes. The survey will be available until the first week of April.

Answers to additional FAQs can be found on the COACHE website. For any other questions, please contact Professor Drew Brodeur ( or Professor Chrys Demetry (, members of the WPI COACHE coordinating team.

Tips for Survey Completion

  • If necessary, you can complete the survey in multiple sittings. Simply log back in using the link you received in the email sent by COACHE.  You will be offered a link on the welcome page that lets you resume where you left off.
  • After 20 minutes with no data entry, the survey will time out as a security protection. If you anticipate writing a long response to an open question, it’s best to do it elsewhere then copy-and-paste into the survey in another sitting so that you don’t lose your work.

Faculty Retention and Exit Survey

WPI is also partnering with COACHE from 2021-2023 to participate in a first-of-its-kind national study of faculty departures and retentions.

Why has WPI decided to participate in the retention and exit study?

We want to recruit and retain faculty who are an excellent fit for WPI, and that means we have to be willing to listen. The COACHE Faculty Retention & Exit Retention Study is designed to help us do that. COACHE is designed by Harvard researchers who specialize in the study of faculty and the academic workplace. COACHE understands that faculty are a unique type of employee whose circumstances require an instrument tailored for them. The instrument and methodology were developed in consultation with researchers, faculty, and academic leaders across the country and have been reviewed and approved by the Harvard Committee on the Use of Human Subjects and filed with the WPI IRB.

Another benefit is that COACHE gives us the opportunity to benchmark ourselves with other institutions. No other research study offers this type of comparative data. The peer data can help us understand where our strengths in faculty retention lie and where we have more work to do. (For a full list of the universities that have partnered with COACHE since its founding in 2005, visit the COACHE website.)

We see this as an opportunity to shed new light on our institutional practices related to faculty retention. At many institutions, the protocols and policies used to address outside offers are not codified to ensure equitable treatment for everyone. We want to understand whether this is the case at WPI so that we can take steps to improve the processes we use in retention actions.

Finally, even for faculty who move on to another institution, we care about their experiences and want to be sure they were treated well during the transition. We want faculty to recommend WPI to graduate students and other colleagues. We know we cannot retain everyone, but we can make everyone feel valued and respected.

Who will be invited to participate in the study?

If, in the past year, you received a formal outside offer and you shared that with someone at the institution, you will be invited to participate. This is regardless of whether you (a) accepted the offer and moved on or (b) you decided to stay. Also eligible are faculty who (c) received a pre-emptive adjustment to their employment status, like a salary increase or additional graduate student support, that was not part of a counteroffer.

What does the survey ask about?

Grounded in the literature on workplace mobility and the academic labor market, the survey focuses on issues such as the search process, the nature of the outside offer, the compelling factors to leave and to stay, the impact of spouses or partners on decision-making, any counteroffers, and the transition to a new institution when applicable.

The survey includes adaptive branching so that respondents only see the items related to their experience. The longest branch of the survey takes 20 to 25 minutes to complete; the shortest may take as few as 5 minutes.

If you would like to learn more about what might be learned from the results, this infographic summarizes some key findings from the pilot study.

Who from our institution is working with COACHE on this project?

Each campus needs a team to execute this study. The Provost’s Office and the academic deans have helped compile the data for this study. Anyone who has specific questions about our relationship with COACHE or how we plan to use these data may contact Prof. Chrys Demetry (, WPI’s COACHE team lead, who can answer specific questions about how WPI plans to use these results.

When will results be received?

Because the numbers of eligible survey participants is quite small, every institution in this study agrees to three years of data collection before receiving results.

Are responses anonymous?

All institutions will receive an anonymous report from COACHE. That report is designed to mask the identity of respondents by not reporting results with fewer than three eligible respondents and by redacting identifying information from open-text comments. WPI has decided to receive only aggregated data, not unit record data, in order to provide maximum assurance of anonymity.