• August 30, 2015

Educators Mull How to Motivate Professors to Improve Teaching

"Without an unrelenting focus on quality—on defining and measuring and ensuring the learning outcomes of students—any effort to increase college-completion rates would be a hollow effort indeed." So proclaimed Jamie P. Merisotis, president and chief executive of the Lumina Foundation for Education, during the opening plenary of the annual conference of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, held here last week.

That statement reflected the tone of the entire conference. The nearly 1,900 presidents, provosts, and faculty members who gathered here generally said that they welcome the White House's efforts to increase the proportion of Americans who earn college degrees. But they do not want to see those degrees watered down in the process. If colleges are going to provide high-quality educations to millions of additional students, they said, the institutions will need to develop measures of student learning than can assure parents, employers, and taxpayers that no one's time and money are being wasted.

"Effective assessment is critical to ensure that our colleges and universities are delivering the kinds of educational experiences that we believe we actually provide for students," said Ronald A. Crutcher, president of Wheaton College, in Massachusetts, during the opening plenary. "That data is also vital to addressing the skepticism that society has about the value of a liberal education."

Pronouncements like Mr. Merisotis's and Mr. Crutcher's are more easily expressed than acted upon. The conference was full of laments about the economic crisis facing academe—and also about faculty tenure-and-promotion systems, which many people here viewed as far too heavily weighted toward scholarship and research, at the expense of teaching and learning.

Sidestepping Obstacles

But many speakers insisted that colleges should go ahead and take drastic steps to improve the quality of their instruction, without using rigid faculty-incentive structures or the fiscal crisis as excuses for inaction.

"Successful campuses sometimes improve their student learning despite their faculty-reward structures," said Jill N. Reich, dean of the faculty at Bates College, during a session organized by the association's Bringing Theory to Practice project. "Don't assume that you need to change your tenure-and-promotion process first."

Ashley Finley, the association's director of assessment for learning, offered preliminary data from a faculty survey that she and several colleagues recently conducted. Among her findings: Handing out "teacher of the year" awards may not do much for a college. In Ms. Finley's survey, only 33 percent of the respondents said that the existence of such an award on their campus would motivate them to improve their instruction. And there was no evidence that such awards built faculty members' morale or deepened their commitment to their institutions.

She read a comment from one respondent who wrote that teaching awards "sound good at first ... until people start to feel overlooked, or until it's obvious that the awards are used to make the award givers look good."

By contrast, using the tenure-and-promotion system to reward faculty members for good teaching seems to have much stronger effects on motivation and morale, Ms. Finley's survey found. (She cautioned that the preliminary data are drawn from only five institutions, four of which are private liberal-arts colleges. At least a dozen more institutions are expected to participate in the survey this year.)

Motivating Faculty Members

During a session on Friday that was devoted to "unasked questions" about liberal education, Amy Jessen-Marshall, associate vice president for academic affairs at Otterbein College, speculated about how to change faculty incentive systems.

"What would happen," she asked, "if we fundamentally rethink the definitions of scholarship and scholarly activity, or at least broaden them?" Such a change, she said, could allow colleges to reward faculty members for various types of civic and community engagement, and also for working on interdisciplinary undergraduate-research projects that could increase students' engagement and understanding.

But at the end of that session, Peter Felten, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Elon University, echoed Ms. Reich by warning that faculty members and campus leaders should not wait for some drastic restructuring—like a new model of tenure and promotion—before they try to improve the teaching they offer.

"There's often an assumption that I can change something, but only after someone else or something else changes," Mr. Felten said. "But the future for liberal-arts education looks fairly stark. I would urge each of you who leave here today to ask yourselves, What are you going to do to improve student learning?"

Likewise, several speakers argued that the recession is no reason for colleges to be complacent about the quality of their instruction. "In this time of complete free fall, there are plenty of opportunities to grab," said Ken O'Donnell, associate dean for academic-program planning in the California State University system's office of the chancellor.

Mr. O'Donnell is working with campuses to adopt what he calls "high-impact practices"—including classroom models that involve more-active student learning and less rote lecturing—in introductory courses where students often struggle.

Those reforms do not involve any substantial expense, he said—and they can reap financial dividends if students' dropout rates decline.

"High-impact practices can change students' lives," he said. "Their brains open up. After they become engaged in this way, the hell they'll drop out."


1. nordicexpat - January 25, 2010 at 01:19 am

The biggest problem with this whole push "to motivate professors to improve their teaching" is that it doesn't square with the reliance upon cheap adjuncts to teach a larger and larger proportion of those "introductory courses where students often struggle." Yes, parents, employers, and taxpayers have the right to know that money and time is not being wasted. But how far can you really push someone who may only be getting $1500 per course without benefits?

2. klblk - January 25, 2010 at 06:32 am

The key problem is that robust research (including my own) across a wide range of contexts shows that systems to document and assess quality (such as ISO 9000 or student satisfaction ratings) improve only low quality systems and outcomes: they tend to attenuate quality at the higher end and overall actually decrease average quality outcomes.

As the quality expert W.E. Deming argued, quality has to be designed into the entire system and supported by top management (that is, every decision made by CEOs and Presidents, and support systems as well as operations) rather than being made the responsibility solely of those delivering 'at the coal face'.

3. 11891865 - January 25, 2010 at 07:05 am

I attended this conference and find David Glenn's report of these remarks and conversations accurate. All these people really are concerned with the quality of teaching. Glenn's observations confirm, however, what I see as a certain cluelessness among those who think one can create substantial change based on volunteerism. There certainly are volunteers on every campus who are trying to carry this work forward. I'm one of them. But in my experience, administrators expect the volunteers to carry much of the burden for the institution as a whole. Consequently there's a high rate of burn out and certainly a deep level of cynicism. How long can one volunteer to do things to which one's administration pays only lip service? They pay more than lip service to their other concerns.

Leah Shopkow

4. ctgrant - January 25, 2010 at 08:04 am

I make just over $2000 to teach a course and have NO benefits. What kind of motivation is that? You are dead on, nordicexpat.

5. jmorrison - January 25, 2010 at 08:42 am

It is encouraging to see that top administrators are expressing concern that graduates of their institutions be able to demonstrate that they have the competencies that their degrees imply. However, instituting outcome-based assessment may just highlight a problem related to the pedagogical strategies used by faculty members. The underlying problem is that the traditional paradigm of instruction is reinforced by organizational culture. That is to say, if the educational objective is to increase the competency of graduates to access, evaluate, and communicate information; to use information technology (IT) tools effectively; and to work well within groups across cultural lines, a change of instructional paradigms--from passive to active (authentic) learning strategies, such as project-based learning, problem-based learning, or inquiry-based learning--is clearly needed.

However, changing instructional paradigms is difficult. Faculty members are busy, many are not comfortable with using information technology (IT) tools, and most cling to the traditional model of the professor as subject matter expert/authority. Although most professors now use one or more IT tools in their teaching, these tools too often serve only to support a traditional lecture method (e.g., PowerPoint, automatic class rolls, email, discussion forums). (See Finkelstein, Seal, and Shuster, 1998 and the more recent 2007-2008 UCLA Higher Education Research Institute study.)

Current approaches to broaden the instructional repertoires of faculty members include faculty workshops, summer leave, and individual consultations, but these approaches work only for those relatively few faculty members who seek out opportunities to broaden their instructional methods. The major problem is how to affect organizational culture as a whole so that most faculty members will be receptive to adopting active learning methods and using IT tools to enhance these methods in their classes.

The approach that makes sense to me is to engage faculty members at the departmental level in a discussion of the future and the implications of the future for their field, their college, their students, and themselves. You are invited to join an ongoing discussion of this issue at

James L. Morrison
Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership
UNC-Chapel Hill

6. what4 - January 25, 2010 at 08:48 am

It's really hard to think outside the system, isn't it? People focus on how to improve "teaching" within the existing system of students, courses, semesters, degrees, and institutions.

Maybe we should back up and re-think "learning" instead. What should people (not students) learn, know, be able to do, in order to function in 21st century America? And how can they best acquire this?

Perhaps college is a smaller part of the answer than we now think.

Maybe we should think of questions that might have answers besides "more college" and "better teaching."

What if we didn't have the current system of educational institution? What would we create instead to serve people's needs?

7. dgle6511 - January 25, 2010 at 09:09 am

A few comments:

1) To nordicexpat: The conference did include at least a few sessions that addressed the faculty labor market. At one session (which unfortunately I couldn't attend), Gary Rhoades and John Curtis of the AAUP were scheduled to discuss the relationship between faculty engagement and student engagement -- with an emphasis on how "the current economic environment" is harming faculty engagement. I don't want to put words in their mouths, but I'm sure that Rhoades and Curtis had things to say about the experiences of adjuncts and other non-tenurable faculty members.

2. The vast majority of the speakers at the conference (and the AAC+U's leaders) argue that student learning outcomes should be developed "in house," with faculty members playing a leading role in defining their own institutions' goals. The AAC+U is supporting a variety of efforts to help colleges go through that process. Most of these people would reject a national system of standards that remotely resembled "ISO 9000."

3. Maybe I just missed it -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- but I was surprised by how little talk I heard about disciplinary associations' own efforts to improve teaching and learning. There's a lot of ferment in the major associations in biology, psychology, and political science (among others). But there doesn't seem to be much communication or cross-fertilization between those efforts and the efforts associated with the AAC+U.

4. I erroneously reported that 800 people attended the conference. In fact, the attendance was nearly 1,900. Many apologies for the error. I hope that the text will be corrected shortly.

David Glenn

8. clementj - January 25, 2010 at 09:34 am

Putting pressure on professors to improve teaching will not result in better education. The primary reason is that they do not know how to make real improvements. The problem is that in many fields of education there is either not enough research, or they do not have good ways of evaluationg the results of their teaching. SETS or student evaluations of teachers are not a reliable measure of teaching quality and can be reaised by the simple expedient of grade inflation. Professors need a standard evaluation that they can administer which can test the studen's competence.

Some fields of education are improving slowly because there are not some standard evaluations that are used to compare across institutions. Notably physics has a number of research based evaluations created in the early 90s. These are seeminly simple and all professors thought their students would ace them. They were shocked to find out the low scores. This has pushed many faculty to reevaluate their teaching. At this point in time there is a branch of of physics called PER (Physics education research) and a fair number of papers which all point to similar ways of education.

Unfortunately, lecture is the lowest form according to the research. Indeed at AZ State a survey of lecture courses showed that they all achieved the same low gain in student understanding. So often professors need to totally rethink their strategies, and deemphasize lecture. But many assumptions that have been traditionally made about education have been disproven. For example "hands on", "demonstrations", "high tech" have all been shown to be ineffective remedies. For example demonstrations do not by themselves improve understanding and they are usually not remembered. But one simple change improves them. If students predict results just before seeing the result, they remember the demos much better.

So the push for quality requires good research into what and how the students learn. Then there needs to be a research based assessment that can be used by individual professors, NOT by the administration. This assessment would be used individually for each professor to evaluate their teaching, and gain scores should be published. Physics did not really start reform until some standard tests were available. Now in physics departments one can even get a PhD in "physics education".

Until that point there is no hope of reform. Just pushing people to do better really does not work. Increasing the number of curriculum items is akin to running the assembly line faster. You just get more defects at a faster rate. And of course having low wage hired guns will never improve education. Hired guns have to often work at several schools to make a living wage, so they will never have the time or energy to devote to the serious scholarship needed to learn how to improve education.

And there is also an important proviso. Humanities educatiors either have to learn enough statistics and cognitive science so they can make valid scientific comparisons of different strategies, or they have to work with cognitive scientists and statisticians.

John M. Clement, PhD
Houston, TX

9. cwinton - January 25, 2010 at 10:05 am

As a recent retiree (now back teaching a desperately needed class for which no suitable adjunct could be found) I think it should be noted that good teaching takes time, something advocates of this, that, or the other seem to fail to recognize. As my career progressed, I saw the percentage of the teaching load shift increasingly to ajunct faculty (which in effect the ranks of which I've now joined), with more and more faculty time devoted to mandated administrative needs, such as accountability reporting, accreditation, supervision of adjunct faculty, production of "formula" curricula for adjuncts to use, you name it. Studies are nice, but they take time and administration, something we're already grossly overburdened with. Every administrator I've every met (and I was one for 10 years) is doing stuff to justify their existence, either by mandate or literally to make their position seem vital to the institutional mission. Upper administrators and funding sources either wittingly or otherwise promote this fiefdom paradigm, which must be a characteristic of human instinct since it pervades the private sector as well. If you really want to see teaching improved, a first step would be putting those with academic titles back into the classroom. A next good move would be to rid ourselves of all the personnel necessary to address all the unfunded reporting mandates associated with funding and accreditation. Unfortunately, the steady trend has been towards a version of the University of Phoenix model, and I suspect those making the decisions are quite comfortable with that. That being the csse, discussions such as this one regarding improved teaching ring hollow to me.

10. unusedusername - January 25, 2010 at 10:47 am

The administrators at this meeting have it exactly wrong. The best way to improve teaching is to change the faculty reward structure. As long as "publish or perish" is the rule, there will always be a minority of self-motivated professors that put in the time to teach well, and a majority that curse their teaching "load" that gets in the way of their research.

As klblk pointed out, any attempts to standardize teaching, which is what the assessment movement ends up always being about, will tend to bring the top down rather than to bring the bottom up. It will stifle creativity, lead to burnout, and worsen teaching.

If bosses want to improve performance, the solution is not micromanagement. Instead, hire smart, self-motivated people, tell them what the job is, and step out of the way. It works every time.

11. intered - January 25, 2010 at 10:50 am

Well intended though it clearly was, the conference continues a longstanding tradition of focusing attention on collegial issues, where the rhetoric is high-minded and vague, whereas the solution is to be found in attending to the less lofty but unequivocal facts pertaining to human motivation.

Today's professors teach and evaluate the same way their great grand professors taught, ignoring the findings and generalizations of the last 50 years of learning and measurement sciences. When these findings are applied, corresponding facets of learning improve, including efficiency (time to proficiency controlled for inputs), behavioral impact, duration of retention, and generalization to new contexts. On the measurement side, about half of the assessments constructed by faculty fail to meet reasonable minimum standards for validity. (Interestingly, these failures leave the door open to a class action lawsuit. Physicians are successfully sued for failing to apply scientific findings correctly; commerce is replete with lawsuits based on measurement errors.)

The texture of this problem will not change until the right incentives are in place and working. As Clement said above, exhortation will do little good when skills are lacking. The problem is that skills will not develop until professorial incentives are aligned with scientifically sound teaching and assessment behavior, and the outcomes they produce. The problems are not limited to those who teach outside the sciences. There is no evidence that those who make their living teaching sciences do a better job of applying modern learning sciences.

The elephant in the corner of the room --still-- is that we refuse to measure learning outcomes and impact, especially proficiencies generalized to one's life outside the classroom. (No one should say otherwise. Review the temporizing in 1985, 1995, and 2010. Observe how we are still debating the same issues, still "getting ready to get ready.") Implementing the "accountability" culture is a logical precursor to performance-based compensation for those who teach. Performance-based compensation is a psychological precursor to the organic change required to improve how we teach.

In the meantime, efforts to improve teaching will be dissipated around the margin, as they have been for the last 50 years.

Robert W Tucker
InterEd, Inc.

12. h4h_ruby - January 25, 2010 at 11:06 am

I obtained my PhD from a Tier I university and due to family needs went to work for a small university. ( less than 10,000 enrolled) Before I obtained my PhD I had more than 20 years experience working in the field and that was not appreciated by the university. Tenure requirements at this university were laughable. A journal was published by the university and considered peer reviewed. State conferences were considered appropriate presentations. There were no grants. There was a good ol'boy program for awards, advancements, projects, graduate classes and even money to attend conferences. I walked in with more tenure than the majority of the faculty in my department.

Yet this university is constantly finding ways to play with the statistics to make it appear that they are doing wonderful things. When students complete evaluations they do not feel anonymous, so they do not say what they really feel. And no, I did not go in and try to tell them how to improve. I simply took care of my classes, but it did not take students long to figure out who had authentic experiences in the work world and that scared and threatened people.

Perhaps my experience has made me cynical, but until universities stop playing games to make themselves look better because they want to maintain their comfortable positions and actually look at what they can do to improve nothing is going to change. I am inclined to believe that Dr. Clement is correct most do not know how to make real improvements. I am also inclined to believe that change scares them.

13. sabbatical - January 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm

How big a "duh" is this? Tenure and promotion depend on research. From an institutional, departmental, discipline perspective -- name your perspective -- nobody CARES about teaching. Faculty eventually figure this out.

Teaching well takes work and time. Why put in work and time when the people who assess you don't care?

Duh. Duh. Duh.

(By the way, this is the ground level view from a "teaching" institution, not a large research university.)

14. dank48 - January 25, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Who is going to bell this cat? How? When? At what cost?

15. johntoradze - January 25, 2010 at 01:00 pm

"Unfortunately, the steady trend has been towards a version of the University of Phoenix model, and I suspect those making the decisions are quite comfortable with that."

Better not be.

UofP has a 4% graduation rate per OEDB.ORG. Look them up. This appalling fact, and the multi-billions that the quasi-legal con-artists who run UoP have sucked out of the federal government, are going to take those guys down sooner or later. I hope prison is the result for that family.

16. meglynch - January 25, 2010 at 01:33 pm

"Those reforms do not involve any substantial expense, he said." I beg to differ--and I suspect this is often the root of the problem. When assigned to teach intro humanities in multiple 120 student courses, I do straight lectures and exams. When I teach the same course in sections of 20 students, we do discussions, student presentations, creative projects, group work, substantive papers, and maybe a TOTAL of 30 minutes lecture all semester. The teaching is obviously, clearly, loads better. And in terms of "student credit hour production" (always a measure at my school), the 20-student courses cost more than 6 times as much.

17. pstein88 - January 25, 2010 at 02:13 pm

Want to improve college teaching? Then reduce number of sections taught by adjuncts. Hire people who know their subjects. And reduce the number of students per class. See meglynch above.

I've never seen a study that states that content expertise matters less than knowledge of pedagogical process.

18. saurilio - January 25, 2010 at 06:36 pm

I'd like to share a success story not only of motivating instructors but changing institutional culture.

Suzanne Aurilio
Assistant Director, pICT-People,Information and Communication Technologies
San Diego State University

19. jvknapp - January 25, 2010 at 07:10 pm

Dear David Glenn --

You've hit the nail on the head when wondering what the "disciplinary associations" were doing, and implicitly signalling their lukewarm attention to university teaching. I can only speak of what I know about the MLA's (Modern Language Association) attempt at, for example, integrating secondary teaching with university training in their 1999 book, *Preparing a Nation's Teachers.* While it was, at the time, a laudatory attempt at examining once facet of university learning in the disciplines of English and foreign language teaching, little of substance came after. See my own critique in Style 34.4 (Winter 2000: 635-669. One could argue that, in the humanities at least, the associations should make the training of secondary teachers a major concern since the public schools are, in a sense, the farm teams of future university enrollment. So, not only is relatively scant attention paid to university teaching by the MLA, but even less is paid to those who will help educate future students of the humanities. The key to improved university teaching includes adequate financial support and recognition at all levels, starting with the university administration, the faculty, and their professional associations, and getting rid of the current exploitive system where TAs, instructors, teachers -in-training, and adjuncts are given lots of lip service but precious little $$ when and where it counts.


20. mercy_otis_warren - January 25, 2010 at 07:41 pm

How many of the people quoted in this article regularly spend time actually teaching in the college or university classroom?

21. roboprof - January 26, 2010 at 08:39 am

My question is, why are the people concerned about teaching administrators and not professors?

I read this article like a University version of No Child Left Behind, which didn't do any favors for good teachers at the secondary level.

More assessment means that a culture of fear will replace academic freedom. I'm already doing the best I can in the classroom. If you want better from me personally, I'll take a permanent job with benefits in lieu of my contingent position. I have observed, teaching several different places, that I get better scores on evaluations and feel better about my teaching if I have more freedom to create my course.

Basic freedoms--like text selection, exam creation, even the selection of homework assignments--are increasingly absent if you're on the adjunct track. If I have to figure out the "official" pedagogy and fit my methods, training, and personal style to an assessment structure before I can teach my course, my effectiveness and creativity are hampered from day one. In my humanities field, I don't lecture at all. Language teaching is all about using student interactivity more effectively--and I can do that best if I'm able to tailor my work to the group I have. I have actually taught from someone else's syllabus--and I'll tell you, that really hurt the quality of my course. The homework assignments and quiz placements always felt awkward. And if we have a top-down assessment structure to work with, increasingly it's the adjuncts and VAPs who will suffer, as we have to change institutions and criteria fairly often. We'll get stuck in the cognitive dissonance between going from one assessment structure at our 9:00 am class to a completely different one for the 12:00 session.

22. koufax33 - January 26, 2010 at 10:24 am

"UofP has a 4% graduation rate per OEDB.ORG"
- actually those rates are only for full-time students, not part time which are the overwhelming majority for on-line schools. Still, I am not a fan of that model, which has slowly inched its way into brick & mortar colleges and uni's.

23. priyaboindala - January 26, 2010 at 10:53 am

As somebody who is looking forward to a career in teaching Mathematics, this has been such a wonderful article bringing out some important issues facing us and some great ideas too of what can be done right now...

I am not sure how many graduate students have access to articles such as this on Chronicle, but these are lines along which you would want your future Professors to think and prepare. May be there might be better ways of making such discussions more widely available.

I completely understand the frustration that some of the faculty have expressed in terms of salary. I think it is important to underline what the position entails, to clearly define what is expected as an adjunct faculty or instructor no matter what course you are teaching and the salary and work input correlate to some extent.

It is more of a team work and the department as a whole should lay down some ground rules of how they want to improve their instruction. I completely agree with what Dr.James Morrison said that yes, some of us use technology in the class such as PowerPoint to aid in lectures but that does not in any way compare with including project-based learning, problem-based learning, or inquiry-based learning even at an undergraduate level.

I completely agree with him that, what any department needs is a team of faculty who are " ready to change and improve". It seems like we look at teaching as any other job but don't realize that each day each of us instructing a course has a responsibility towards what basic ideas each and every student takes away with them. I have seen that, this sense of responsibility and enthusiasm is very infective and motivates the students to put in more effort too. This sense of responsibility and enthusiasm will in fact motivate instructors to look for better ways of instruction and this varies every semester even with the same course. I think some of us get into this comfortable phase in teaching which doesn't need too much effort and that becomes a barrier and I am not sure just money incentives will motivate such people.

It is important to differentiate between faculty seeking tenure because of research and those seeeking tenure because of their teaching (less research). I agree that expecting all from one faculty definitely over burdens them. So the department should be able to clearly define specific roles.

Good researchers are not necessarily good teachers and vice versa, what we need is a certain collaboration between the two. This can help when thinking about project based learning outcomes for a course.

My question is what did the 1,900 presidents, provosts, and faculty members who attended this conference take away.... And are any of them working towards any specific goals for their school or department ?

People can sit and mull over a lot of things, but it is important that after all that brainstorming that some active steps (however small) be taken.

24. lapcas - January 26, 2010 at 02:24 pm

Sabbatical nailed it - faculty often doesn't put enough energy and focus into improving as teachers because the tenure process does not reward it. As long as a professor isn't a total disaster in the classroom, teaching doesn't really enter the equation in tenure and promotion decisions.

Faculty (and I know I'm generalizing here) see their primary function as scholars,as producers of new knowledge in their respective fields. Teaching is a secondary but necessary duty. What I see as so problematic about this is that the taxpayers who support public institutions or the parents who pay tuition at private schools are generally unaware of this; both think they are paying for students (primarily undergraduates) to be educated, not for scholars to pursue their own research agendas. Theoretically, a scholar's research informs his or her teaching and is supposed to trickle down into the classroom, but, really, most academics' scholarship is so specialized and specific that there isn't much room for it in an undergraduate course.

Most people outside of the academic world are unaware that professors aren't just teachers working at the college level; in my experience, they are often shocked when I tell them that research and publishing are what propel an academic career, not teaching. In my view, universities are "paid" (either by taxpayers or parents)to do one thing but they pay and reward their faculty members for doing something different.

25. acaato - January 26, 2010 at 04:14 pm

I am curious about the fact there is a separation of "Educators" and "Professors" in the title. It is almost as if the professors are not the educators and this leaves me wondering then who "real educators" are?

It would seem to me that if the focus were not on how to "improve teaching" and rather on how to "improve learning" then we might have a meaningful discussion about the roles of the administrators (who I presume from reading the article are the educators), the professors, AND THE STUDENTS.

26. fdarnell - January 26, 2010 at 05:06 pm

as a ph.d. graduate still looking to get into higher education teaching and not the "publish or perish" dogma, why not separate the two? i would gladly teach while others conduct their own research! does it have to be either/or, rather than both/and? us motivated "educators" are out there, but we can't get a break because of our weak research experience. trust me, you wouldn't have to motivate me to teach; i'm already motivated and willing!

27. john_drake - January 27, 2010 at 05:43 am

If you are interested in how universities train TA's to teach composition, take a look at the latest "Bait-and-Switch" article: http://chronicle.com/article/Academic-Bait-and-Switch-Part/63701/

28. mbelvadi - January 27, 2010 at 06:50 am

ctgrant and others unhappy with the adjunct pay and benefits, look to Canada. My institution pays $4,600 per course and while you don't get benefits, with the provincial health care system you don't need the biggest one (in terms of cost in the US) from your employment.
It's amazing what collective bargaining can accomplish. It's too bad the work force in the US has been tricked into forgetting that.

29. jffoster - January 27, 2010 at 06:57 am

Acaato (25), I noticed that too. What they really meant was "educationists". What this conference seems to have been was a bunch of professional educations who arent interested in any discipline plotting to see what real professors, who are interesetd in professing their disciplines, can be compelled to do to further coddle and hover over students, many of whom have really short attention spans and aren't interested in anything.

30. rightwingprofessor - January 27, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Why should I waste any time working on my teaching? As long as it is "adequate" (read not atrocious) it is irrelevant to my career. My merit raises and future promotion depend on my research. I certainly do my best when in front of the classroom, but to spend extra time outside of class is just taking away from what my employer actually values.

31. abichel - January 27, 2010 at 02:28 pm

What does the employer really value - that is the problem. Because a strong case can be made that much of the "research" that is so central to tenure and precious to institutions would never be missed if it were never conducted in the first place. In the end teaching/learning are regularly sacrificed on the alter of "scholarship" to better meet the egotistical needs of the faculty and campus brand managers than the educational needs of the "cherished" students.

32. abuendia - January 28, 2010 at 11:07 am

I strongly agree with those who argue that the faculty reward structure should be changed to value teaching, at least in the social sciences and humanities, and especially in public institutions (let's face it, the "research" is largely a joke). In fact, I would argue that public institutions should completely restructure and distance themselves from the private institutions. Get out of the careerism game that defines higher ed now! So, some top faculty names would opt for private schools; so what? These people are often the worst teachers.

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