What obligations do faculty members have to their institutions beyond their disciplines and departments? It’s a question that is sure to get a lot of play as higher education institutions deal with the pressures brought about by increased scrutiny from outside constituents and other factors such as changing student demographics and a shift from a faculty-focused to a learner-focused orientation.
At most places now, students are given the opportunity to evaluate instructors at the end of each class. Along with standardized items, students are invited to offer open-ended narrative comments on the course and instructor. Sometimes the comments are nice; sometimes negative but constructive; sometimes negative and destructive.
Most higher education institutions include language in their mission statements about the importance of diversity, but they often fall short when it comes to retaining faculty of color, says Christine A. Stanley, executive associate dean of faculty affairs at Texas A&M University, and editor of Faculty of Color: Teaching in Predominantly White Colleges and Universities (Anker Publishing, April 2006).
I am just about to retire from Penn State and leave my faculty position teaching undergraduates. I’ll still be working; there’s this newsletter to edit and a world of faculty who still need advice, ideas, and encouragement to do their very best in the classroom. But you don’t end 33 years of college teaching without thinking about those things that will and won’t be missed on campus.
In 2005, Appalachian State University established three-quarter- and full-time non-tenure-track contracts with benefits for non-tenure-track faculty members who had been teaching at least three-quarter time for three years. The move was intended to provide fair compensation and promote loyalty that might pay off in improved quality of instruction.
On Tuesday’s post, we discussed an Oxford University study that looked at departments recognized for their excellence in teaching at 11 research-intensive universities. Based on what they learned, Christopher Knapper and Sergio Piccinin, two of the researchers who conducted this study, offer the following advice:
A study based at Oxford University looked at departments judged noteworthy for their teaching at 11 research-intensive universities in Europe, Australia, and North America to determine what these departments do to bring about and sustain teaching excellence.
Have you ever left a meeting in which you were trying to work with some colleagues on aligning the curriculum for a course that several of you teach, and decided that the best (printable) word to describe a colleague was “difficult?”
Incorporating material that addresses diversity issues in classes has positive effects on a number of learning outcomes. The success of efforts to make curricula more diverse depends to a large degree on faculty willingness to incorporate these materials because control of the curriculum remains in faculty hands—both collectively, in terms of course and program approval processes, and individually, in terms of daily decisions about what to teach.