I am the focus here, some may say that my obsession is to consider that the structures and activities of higher education institutions are fundamentally incompatible with the mission that we consider most important for these institutions – student education.
I researched this at the micro level, primarily how we staff and prioritize (really undo priorities) in the first courses of writing, makes it very difficult to use well-established advanced pedagogy.
I researched this at the macro level-as the whole system of higher education is essentially organized in reverse …if the goal is to provide access to opportunities and advancement, i.e.
It is with this mood that I read Inside the Supreme EdA recent survey of vice-rectors with great interest, in particular, their views on the relative importance of teaching versus research in their institutions. According to the survey, 86 percent of researchers at their institutions say that teaching “much more” (47 percent) or “more” (39 percent) is more important than research. As a former and still occasional research specialist, I am fascinated by these things, trying to look under interest and get additional ideas.
First, it is not surprising that people in charge of academics in their institutions see teaching as a priority over research. It seems to be an almost prerequisite for work.
Irene Malvey of the American Association of University Professors was “upset” by this discovery, and I share that disappointment. If teaching is so important, where is the evidence of how teaching is structured and maintained in the vast majority of educational institutions?
If teaching is indeed the most important function of the university, one should ask which conditions will be most conducive to better learning. This list is somewhat out of place, so don’t consider it exhaustive, but just for starters.
- Student workloads meet disciplinary guidelines for effective learning.
- Reasonable expectations of permanent employment from year to year for continuity of planning, constant communication with students and building institutional knowledge.
- Academic freedoms to cover regular classroom activities.
- A reasonable and sustainable salary that allows the teacher to focus on teaching.
- Clear, thorough and fair policy indicators to assess the quality of teaching.
- Conservation and promotion policies based on learning effectiveness.
- Appropriate access to time and resources to improve your knowledge and practice.
- Joint management responsibilities strengthen the mutual commitment between the individual and the institution, the institution and the individual.
I have no doubt in the sincerity of the vice-chancellors when they say that teaching is their highest institutional priority, and I am also sure that there is a lot of excellent teaching on these campuses because I once did it and I continue to witness it in my work with faculty and institutions to improve their writing practice.
But I’ve been saying this for years and I’ll say it again, all this good work is happening despite structures and resources dedicated to learning, not because of it. What percentage of teachers in institutions can say that they work in conditions that properly support the work they are assigned?
They certainly describe exactly the zero years I taught in college as a track instructor with no experience.
The vast majority of employees who teach in U.S. colleges and universities are not seen as important resources to be developed for the benefit of students and institutions, but as interchangeable assets, fully interchangeable as long as credit hours and tuition fees can be assigned.
I’m not even angry about it anymore. I am more fascinated by how this gap is allowed to live forever.
Sixty-five percent of prorests say their institutions are “very effective” in providing quality undergraduate. Based on my experience as a teacher, speaker and observer of higher education, for me it sounds a bit low. Miracles do happen
But the price of this for people who have done an advanced job of providing such a quality education has been very, very high and it is only getting higher.
Ask how I know.