Showing posts with label professors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label professors. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What Can't Be Standardized in Higher Education?

Higher education is going through radical changes and struggling universities are moving online to increase their reach and balance their budgets. A number of studies have shown that standardization doesn't lessen educational quality and provides consistency in course instruction. Despite standardization there are two things that still need qualified faculty to complete effectively.

Grading papers and engaging in conversation require a guiding hand to fully function as intended. Both of these course activities are based in qualitative measurements that are very difficult for automated algorithms to calculate. It takes considerable experience and human insight to understand the student's current vantage point and propose new information to push their knowledge.

Each paper comes with a blend of course information, learned experience, thought processes and communication abilities. Professors must try and follow the train of thought and make judgments on the students understanding. For example, the understanding could be high and the writing skills low. The professor can make proper recommendations.

The same thing occurs in grading participation in discussion questions. The individual exists within an online conversation and it is beneficial to determine course understanding by assessing the student as an individual in a group discussion. This requires following complex group ideas and how those ideas build off of each other and create meaning for the student.

Professors ability to effectively grade and further knowledge among students is difficult to assess automatically. Someday this may not be the case yet as of now the qualitative assessments are too difficult for mechanical understanding. Professors skill in assessment and development of their courses is a learned skill that is enhanced over repeated focus and practice. Seasoned online professors are worth their weight in gold bring a human touch to the virtual learning world.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How is a Professor’s Time Divided?

The notion of professors sitting around on plush chairs discussing the nuances of a latest theory is gone. No longer do dusty books, social ramblings, and conversations of historic significance make their way into the ivory towers. A study at Boise State University dismisses the myth of esoteric discussions and replaces it with longer workweeks engage in teaching, administrative work, and meetings. 

The study printed Inside Higher Ed was limited to the university and 30 instructors but does indicate that the expectations of professors have changed. On average professors worked 61 hours a week and worked nearly every day of the week. This means that when they are home on Saturday or Sunday they also engage in their work. 

Around 60% of their work was completed on campus, 24% at home and 17% at off-campus locations. The majority of the time professors worked alone on their projects and used only 17% of their time with other colleagues and 15% with other students.  According to the study findings 58% of time was spent on teaching, 22% on research and 20% on administrative tasks.

Teaching is seen as one of the primary responsibilities of faculty followed by research. Administrative tasks appear to take up additional time and may be a result of the economic changes occurring at colleges. The author indicates that teaching is often encouraged due to the income students provide to the university while many faculty are still personally rewarded for their research.

The study is important because it helps potential professors as well as current professors understand how their normal day will be divided and how much effort they are going to put toward their work. Many of the long hours are part of a “labor of love” as the entrepreneurial spirit of researchers seems to make their way into their lifestyle. It is simply hard for them to ignore their work for any great length of time. Being a professor is more of a lifestyle choice than an occupational choice.