Asking the Question in Higher Education: Do You Love Teaching?

August 29, 2012 at 11:40 am 2 comments

I don’t know of a study that addresses the question Nick is asking here. It may certainly exist — I’m not up on research in higher education.  (For the CS folk who read this list, there are actually departments in schools of education just on higher education administration, and you can get your doctorate in it.)  What percentage of faculty in various kinds of higher education (community college, liberal arts college, research university) want to teach?  Enjoy it?  Want to get better at it?  The closest that we in our group have come to exploring this question is when Lijun Ni interviewed CS faculty in the University System of Georgia, and was told by one faculty member (at a school with a teaching-primary mission) that he was not a computing educator and was not interested in getting better at it.  What’s the percentage overall?

Have we actually ever asked people these key questions as a general investigation? “Do you like teaching?” “What do you enjoy about teaching?” “What can we do to make you enjoy teaching more?” Would this muddy the water or clear the air? Would this earth our non-teaching teachers and fire them up?

Even where people run vanity courses (very small scale, research-focused courses design to cherry pick the good students) they are still often disappointed because, even where you can muster the passion to teach, if you don’t really understand how to teach or what you need to do to build a good learning experience, then you end up with these ‘good’ students in this ‘enjoyable’ course failing, complaining, dropping out and, in more analogous terms, kicking your puppy. You will now like teaching even less!

via The Key Difference (or so it appears): Do You Love Teaching? « Nick Falkner.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. dennisfrailey  |  August 29, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Teaching and curriculum development were the parts I liked most about being a CS faculty member. I hated the rest – pandering to get research grants so I could pay my way and thus get tenure, participating on boring committees dealing with relatively trivial issues, dealing with administrators who knew little or nothing about how to manage, and so forth. So when I left a full time, tenured position to work in industry I continued teaching on an adjunct basis for nearly 40 years (and I still do it after retirement). I also kept involved in education in other ways such as being an accreditation program evaluator, industry advisory board member, hiring co-op students, advising on doctoral theses (not the official committee chair but being the real faculty advisor), etc.

    The only things I don’t like about teaching are handling students who aren’t serious and honest about their studies, and dealing with bureaucrats who try to tell me how to teach when I know better than they do how to do it. But you run into similar problems in industry so I guess overcoming obstacles is just part of working life.

    Regards, DJF

  • 2. lenandlar  |  September 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    While research is core and most important for upward mobility, teaching is still very critical especially at the Undergrad level. I enjoy it immensely even though it remains a major challenge getting students to focus hard on programming.

    I wonder if there’s any work out there that talks about the similarities and differences between teaching at pre-university levels and uni?


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