Fixing the basics, the future of the university

When I came to Virginia tech to get my PhD, I was expecting to take courses of a much higher caliber than what I was used to in my undergraduate institution in Lebanon. To give credit where credit is due, I have taken really good courses taught  by exceptional professors. Unfortunately, I have also taken courses that are way worse than the worse course that I have taken in my undergrad. I am not going to directly address why these courses were so bad, however, I would like to point out that in my opinion the university’s lack of monitoring and tenure may be the two main culprits. Let me further explain, professors who already have tenure, or are along tenure track, are expected to teach, do research and get involved in service. The problem arises when a very good researcher is forced into teaching, even though this is not his strong suit. Another problem is when professors who want to teach are allowed to, even though they are not good at it. The result is a very bad educational experience for students who are caught in the cross fire.

So, what I would like to see in higher education is an increased emphasis on the quality of teaching. Might it be through more rigorous selection of qualified teachers or the separation of research and teaching. I am not suggesting that professors chose between either teaching or research, rather my suggestion is to at least keep teaching a choice for professors. If this leads most professors to pick research, fine, hire people who actually want, and can, teach. For the professors that actually chose to teach alongside their research, i would expect that the quality of their class is way better than a colleague that is forced. On the flip side, not every professor that wants to teach should be allowed to, a specialized department should evaluate the teaching skills of every professor in an effort to offer the best experience for students. At the end of the day, students are at the heart of every university and actions should be taken to preserve their best interest.


One Reply to “Fixing the basics, the future of the university”

  1. For a research university, they care research and grant more important than teaching. No matter if the professor gets tenured or not. So there are lecturer and adjunct positions. You can’t expect a people to improve a thing which their manager does not care less. Also, if a professor wants to jump to another university, which one takes the most weight in the CV? 1. Research/grant 2. Teach 3. Service. The answer is very clear.

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