Posted to Diigo 06/30/2010

    • Faculty members with strong research records and below-average teaching routinely get to be full professors, while outstanding teachers with below-average (and sometimes average) research productivity don’t get tenure
    • Depressingly many research papers are published that have little or no impact on technology or society and are never cited by anyone other than their authors
    • If university administrators were being honest, they would state that they need massive amounts of external research funding to function, the chancellor of a university that proclaimed teaching to be of secondary importance would have to face some hard and unwelcome questions, so what happens instead is rationalization
    • There is no logical reason to expect productivity in research and effectiveness in teaching to be closely related, since research and teaching have different goals and require different skills and personal attributes
    • The goal of research is to advance knowledge, while that of teaching is to develop and enhance abilities
    • Excellent researchers must be observant, objective, skilled at drawing inferences, and tolerant of ambiguity; excellent teachers must be skilled at communication, familiar with the conditions that promote learning and expert at establishing them, approachable, and empathetic
    • Having both sets of traits is clearly desirable but not at all necessary to succeed in one domain or the other
    • Moreover, first-class teaching and first-class research can each consume well over 40 hours a week, so that time spent on one activity is inevitably time taken from the other
    • It should therefore come as no surprise if studies reveal no significant correlations between research productivity and teaching effectiveness
    • Argument: Research productivity correlates positively with teaching effectiveness. Fact: Wrong. Correlations between numbers of papers and grants and measures of teaching quality such as student evaluations, peer evaluations, and learning outcomes are mostly negligible and sometimes negative

    • Argument: Research-intensive universities provide the best undergraduate education. Fact: Wrong. In reality, significant negative correlations have been found between a university’s research orientation and numerous student learning and satisfaction outcomes

    • Argument: Only active researchers are sufficiently current in science and engineering to be viable teachers. Fact: Never demonstrated, and almost certainly wrong

    • Argument: Faculty with active research programs bring their research into the classroom and use it to inform and enliven their teaching. Fact: Usually wrong, especially in undergraduate classes, and when research is integrated into teaching it’s not always a good thing. Most current research is well beyond the scope of all but advanced graduate courses, and rigid curricula make it challenging to bring in new material

    • Argument: Research experiences enhance undergraduate education. Fact: True for some students. No supporting evidence exists for this presumption; in fact, much undergraduate research directed by research faculty has students functioning more as unpaid lab technicians than as true researchers

    • In short, the unwritten rule that all university faculty should be active researchers places unreasonable and unhealthy demands on faculty members; weakens departmental teaching programs; keeps potentially outstanding teachers from devoting enough time and energy to teaching to realize their potential; deprives students of some inspirational and possibly life-changing instructors, mentors, and role models; and is unsupportable by either logic or research
    • Flexible Thinking: In a world in which future workers are likely to have as many as eight careers or more in their lifetimes, lifelong learning will be essential but flexibility of thought will be equally critical, enabling individuals to move seamlessly from one transition to another
    • Multiple Interpretations: The New Civic Discourse driver from the 2020 Forecast depicts a world in which continuous, bottom-up communication will be the norm, bringing an ever-widening circle of individuals with divergent views into contact with one another. If this dialogue is to be fruitful, not fractious, we will need to develop a new capacity for dialogue which includes the capacity to see multiple perspectives
    • Willingness to Experiment and Learning from Mistakes: Dynamism and acceleration are hallmarks of our current age. To innovate in this world, rapid beta-building and the habits of mind such as a willingness to experiment and reframing of “mistakes” as failures, to “mistake” as learning opportunities will be required
    • Visual and Spatial Abilities: If we are to make sense of the vast amounts of knowledge we are creating, the knowledge era must become the visual era. We need to develop the capacity to bring multiple streams of information together in new ways to provide sophisticated and elegant pictures of complex situations