Why is it Okay to Populate Undergraduate Classes With Instructors who Really Aren't There to Teach Well?
Okay, so I'm probably going to ruffle a few feathers here, but this is really just so frustrating. I wonder how other educators feel about this? My son attends a widely respected, highly ranked public New York State University. He is in his 3rd semester. Once again this term he has told me about one or more teachers he has that seem to be filling some sort of required role, as opposed to trying to truly teach.
This term, one teacher is basically rewriting problems from the text book on the board. That's pretty much it. What value is that adding? How is that ‘teaching'? One day a different teacher conducted the class and after apologizing for not having taught it for over a year and possible being a bit rusty, he proceeded give the students an experience several likened to being taught more in one class than the regular instructor had in a month.
It is all too often I hear about teachers like this that make the lecture hall a boring, staid experience. It seems that the goal is simply to ‘survive' the lectures and the class while pretty much teaching yourself, and most certainly not to be inspired, intrigued and stimulated by learning.
Maybe I'm naive. Maybe I'm spoiled by working in a small private college where we really do have the opportunity to work more closely with each student and try our best to reach them. In any case, I am rather disturbed by the fend-for-yourself-with-limited-support approach for which my family pays a lot of tuition dollars. And I have no doubt this is a much wider spread occurrence than this one university in this one state. Of course, we can all also be very thankful for the many dedicated teachers across the entire spectrum of education who are giving their all every day to help make a difference in student's lives (and have some fun in the process).
I realize there are research requirements for many university faculty and this can lead to having grad students teach, and other considerations that may impact the reality of having the best teaching faculty actually teaching. That still doesn't make poor teaching acceptable practice. Even if these other considerations can't be readily overcome, there is certainly an opportunity here for leveraging some instructional technology tools and techniques to create a better teaching and learning environment without having to pull faculty away from other responsibilities.
I've had to have the frank and discouraging conversation with my son to inform him that I guess part of what we are paying for is the university's name on the degree he hopes to persevere for, as opposed to good teaching and learning. Ugh. We're hoping it gets better after he makes it through the first two years (like he's running a very expensive gauntlet in order to earn a good education!).
Is this really supposed to be acceptable in a country widely regarded as one of the best in the world at higher education?
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Thanks Wayne. The lack of required education training is a given in Higher Ed, and from my perspective, it is (should be) the requirement of each institution to ensure that each hired instructor is capable of teaching (just like any organization should work to ensure that their employees can do their jobs, right?).
We can expect some duds in any role anywhere, but having this as a frequent occurrence in highly rated teaching institutions just blows my mind.
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I believe that a large part of the problem is the lack of training. These instructors have the requisite degree, but have never been taught how to teach college students.
Thanks Chris – I replaced the link you provided (it was leading to a lot of different content, much of it unrelated) with this video I found. You’re right – he’s looks like a dedicated Prof! There are so many out there giving in their all like him. Thanks for sharing.
Check out Dr. Derek McLachlin at the University of Western Ontario.
I wish I had profs like this when I went there.