Thursday, January 10, 2013

Apparently Research University Professors DO Care About Teaching

At least this is the argument of a new book by three University of Washington administrators, Inside the Undergraduate Teaching Experience . The book is based on a study of 55 faculty members at Washington.  Colleen Flaherty describes the making of the book at Inside Higher Ed.  Here is a taste:

...Extensive interviews with the faculty members, a mix of those recommended by department chairs for exceptional teaching, those randomly selected, and those selected to demographically round out the group, reveal that virtually all faculty in all groups constantly think about how to be more effective teachers. Even when they didn’t know they were doing it, professors described changing course assignments, content and student engagement strategies to improve learning outcomes. Much of that work was done experimentally, with professors using student behavior and performance as gauges of success.

“[Sometimes] I think my career is like 'Groundhog Day,' the movie – I have to keep doing this over and over again until I get it right,” said one math professor. Another described her teaching as an “invasive species,” making adaptations to changing environments in order to survive. The professors in the book are not named.


Paul M. said...

Heh. I bet if you asked three groups of parents--all selected differently--you'd find that all of them thought being a parent was really, really important. #meaninglessstudies

Wayne Kantz said...

The idea that professors become consumed by research and forget about the critical aspect of teaching is as old as some their topics of research. The idea that groups of professors are starting to think about doing something about it is refreshing and hopefully will lead to meaningful change in instruction.

John Fea said...

Paul: I thought the same thing.

John Fea said...

Wayne: Let's hope so.