Archive for September 3, 2010
My suspicion is that this doesn’t really work like this. There are faculty in our School who bring in more money, and those that bring in less. Some of those who bring in less have expertise and teach classes that we want in our School, that nobody else in the School can replicate. There are lots of areas in Computing that don’t bring in a whole lot of external funding, but are important, and I know I can’t teach their classes. Even if the classes aren’t large, we need to have them. As long as the overall School covers its costs, isn’t it okay if individual faculty don’t?
Then as we move beyond Computing, the case gets more complicated. We’re a lot better situated for external funding in Computing than other schools/colleges on campus. Should we stop teaching Philosophy or Art except in huge classes, in order to cover individual faculty costs?
We’re going to see more of these kinds of efforts.
A several-inches thick document in the possession of A&M System officials contains three key pieces of information for every single faculty member in the 11-university system: their salary, how much external research funding they received and how much money they generated from teaching.
The information will allow officials to add the funds generated by a faculty member for teaching and research and subtract that sum from the faculty member’s salary. When the document — essentially a profit-loss statement for faculty members — is complete, officials hope it will become an effective, lasting tool to help with informed decision-making.
American Radioworks is making two claims in this piece that I find disturbing (though both could very well be true). First, that it’s not possible to make teachers effective — they’re either good or they’re not. From the below quote, the authors of the piece aren’t comfortable with that idea either, since they quickly shift to a project showing progress in improving teachers and thus dispute Hanushek’s claim.
But the scarier claim is the implicit challenge to the old Bruner claim: “We being with the hypothesis that any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development.” I’m presuming that adults (even ineffective teachers) are a kind of “child at any stage of development.” At some point, is the Bruner hypothesis false, and we just have to give up? That there are humans who lose the plasticity of their cognitive systems and can no longer be reshaped and reformed?
Is it possible to take ineffective teachers and make them better? Economist Eric Hanushek, who has done some of the most influential research about the importance of teachers, thinks the answer is, “no.”
Hanushek: My interpretation of the evidence is that teachers are born and not made.
There have been only a few big studies of programs that are supposed to help teachers improve, and the evidence is: they don’t work. That’s why Hanushek thinks the focus should be getting rid of bad teachers, and recruiting better ones. But there are more than three million teachers in the United States. If every child is really going to have a good teacher, there needs to be some way to help teachers improve.