Sadly, I don’t actually have time to read this book just now as I am writing one of my own. However, from the sounds of this review this is one that every active faculty member SHOULD read.
A few comments that resonated with me:
the impact of educational research on faculty-teaching practice and student-learning experience has been negligible.
‘much of our current approach to teaching in higher education might best be described as practices of convenience, to the extent that traditional pedagogical approaches continue to predominate. Such practices are convenient insofar as large numbers of students can be efficiently processed through the system. As far as learning effectiveness is concerned, however, such practices are decidedly inconvenient, as they fall far short of what is needed in terms of fostering self-directed learning, transformative learning, or learning that lasts.’
‘…research suggests that there is an association between how faculty teach and how students learn, and how students learn and the learning outcomes achieved. Further, research suggests that many faculty members teach in ways that are not particularly helpful to deep learning. Much of this research has been known for decades, yet we continue to teach in ways that are contrary to these findings.’
I posted this on FB this morning, and one reply suggested that giving faculty smaller classes and more time would improve the situation. In other words, he thought that faculty would improve their teaching if only they had more time.
After 33 years in academia, I don’t.
The way people teach has far more to do with what faculty value and far less to do with class size or available time. I don’t believe that most of the faculty actually would improve their teaching. What is it that faculty are rewarded for? Teaching? Hardly. If they had more time, most of them would simply publish more and write more grant applications. This is often true even in education faculties.
Many, perhaps even MOST faculty don’t value teaching – especially in “research institutions”. They see it as a chore. I know faculty who routinely have small classes and VERY low teaching loads and their teaching still sucks. All they care about is getting grants and putting their names on papers. Notice I didn’t say publishing. I dare you to find a professor who has NEVER put his or her name on a paper that he or she didn’t actually write (at least in part). I know a few, but my point is, I know VERY few. And I know LOTS of professors.
The longer I stay on the periphery of the Academy, the better my perspective. 20 years ago I could NOT understand why ANYONE would ever want to leave the Academy. Now I absolutely get it.
Faculty are forever bellyaching about how the ‘system’ is this or that, but the truth is, the faculty ARE the system. Faculty make the rules. That’s what institutional governance is all about. THE FACULTY THEMSELVES decide what is important and, more to the point, THEY decide how their colleagues (and they) are assessed and how they get tenure and promotions.
So, take your pick:
1. change the system,
or, to put it bluntly,
There is a third option: leave.
I ended up being forced to choose Door Number 3 because there was only ONE other person in my department (out of 45) who was actually willing to stand up and try to change things. I had plenty of people telling me how much they were behind me, and how much they agreed with me,…. but none of them were willing to risk anything.
Remember that story about The Little Red Hen? Well, that’s pretty much what happens. Except in this story, the little red hen ends up having to move away just so she can grow her grain and make her bread without the other critters trying to ruin her work.