During this semester we have been discussing different topics regarding the higher education system. There are several aspects of higher education that requires improvement, but in my particular opinion there is one change that may help to tangentially solve several problems at the same time.
If I were able to change only one thing in higher education, it would be the tenure process. I believe that the process as it is, it’s making a lot of damage to the students and to the universities. As discussed before in the class and in several blog posts, it is very rare to find a professor that is a very productive researcher but also an outstanding teacher. However, the current process force everyone to work in the same way, generating sometimes negative outcomes.
I have seen young faculty members that are completely tired for doing extensive research, they don’t have time to focus on the courses they are teaching, and yet they are in charge of several courses. As a consequence they perform very poorly in they classes.
In the other hand, excellent instructors feel the need to stop being great at teaching, because they need the time to produce more publications, in some fields it doesn’t even matter the quality or the type of publication as long as they are a lot. This generates frustation on the instructor, and also a negative impact on the research outcomes.
My suggestion would be to have faculty member being evaluated in the things that they can do better. I strongly believe that good teaching is a skill that needs to be developed over time. The skill won’t be developed in a couple of courses and seminars but in a constant faculty development program focused on teaching. I suggest that professors with that skill can be able to undergo a tenure track based on the performance that they have in teaching. This has to be a complete evaluation process rather than simply student perceptions evaluations.
In the other hand, faculty members that want to dedicate to research, can spend their time doing it without being force to teach several courses that sometimes they don’t even want to teach. It would be more beneficial to have them teach something that can be an outcome of their research or is directly related.
I think by doing that the outcome will be better classes, therefore happier students, and more productive and sincere research.