What’s Worth Knowing? Research and Instructional Impacts of Books on Working-Class Academics

  • Jim Vander Putten
Keywords: Higher education, working-class faculty, social class


What are the research impacts and instructional impacts of books of essays on the perspectives of faculty from working-class backgrounds? To what extent are these books used in undergraduate or graduate courses? Previous research on the content of these edited volumes has been limited to manual constant comparative analyses that described book content. This study employed data analysis methods in the emerging field of altmetric sciences to investigate the impacts of books of personal essays about faculty from working-class backgrounds (N=11). Book-level and chapter-level analyses were conducted to measure research impact using the Altmetric Explorer online tool and instructional impact using the Open Syllabus Project Explorer online tool. Data analysis results on research impacts for books on working-class academics produced extremely low impact levels. Few books (N=4) generated patterns of attention and these patterns were limited in scope. Data analysis results on instructional impacts identified that each of the 11 books generated a Teaching Score, but all scores were minimal and indicated low impact levels. The results suggest that scholarship on faculty from working-class social origins is not being widely included in undergraduate or graduate course syllabi. Further, a large proportion of the book-level scholarship in the subject area of ‘faculty diversity’ has been limited to the constructs of race and gender. Issues involving faculty social origins have been largely omitted from curricula in this area and raises the important question: What is worth knowing?