ERIC Number: EJ895381
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Reference Count: 0
Teaching the Teachers
Beckerman, Nancy L.
Academe, v96 n4 p28-29 Jul-Aug 2010
New tenure-track faculty members come into academia expecting to be able to devote substantial energy and expertise to teaching. They often find, however, that they must learn to navigate a multitude of other, competing demands. Numerous interdisciplinary studies published in the last decade have demonstrated that the normative expectations of incoming faculty members have emphasized publication without placing equal emphasis on teaching. In many disciplines, a record of scholarly publication has become more critical for tenure and promotion across all three tenure-track professorial ranks, and deans have identified publication as the most important consideration for tenure and promotion. The current recession has resulted in another labor- and time-intensive demand that can divert a faculty member from classroom teaching: the need to obtain external funding. With higher education institutions experiencing diminished internal and external financial support for research, many new faculty members have already felt the pressure to succeed at grant writing. Classroom teaching, meanwhile, is surprisingly the least visible of the educator's responsibilities. It is an endeavor that remains private, with student evaluations and collegial classroom observations the chief means by which it is evaluated for tenure and promotion. A review of successful mentoring programs revealed that the emphasis on teaching in mentoring resulted in more enthusiasm for teaching, increased interest in educational research, higher publication rates, and greater numbers of presentations about education at professional association meetings. Those who have researched mentoring have reported that new faculty members who learn pedagogical principles in mentoring relationships are more aware that students learn best when they are personally invested and are actively engaged, receive prompt and comprehensible feedback, and have an opportunity to work cooperatively with their classmates and teachers. Preparation of excellent teachers who will, in turn, be able to train and mentor future generations of educators and practitioners is always of critical importance. Senior faculty members should provide junior colleagues in-class observation not solely for promotion and tenure but also to give feedback on the development of classroom teaching skills. While most teachers have an opportunity to review their student evaluations, they often do not have the opportunity to review in aggregate with a mentor the strengths and challenges of their teaching as perceived by their students. The author contends that academics should be advocates for the importance of mentoring and should not accept the overriding pressures to publish and pursue external research funding at the expense of excellent teaching.
Descriptors: Mentors, Tenure, Educational Research, Teaching Skills, College Faculty, Knowledge Base for Teaching, Coaching (Performance), Teacher Responsibility, Instructional Effectiveness
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A