Are Faculty Neglecting Their Teaching Responsibilities?

I have to admit that I get annoyed with the faculty bashing that seems to occur, and in my opinion, started to surface in last week’s class. The view of many seemed to be that good researchers tend to neglect their teaching responsibilities and not put time in to their courses and students. While that may be true for some professors, I doubt it represents the majority of faculty juggling significant teaching and research loads.

A study out of Boise State (an institution classified as a doctoral university) found that faculty spend a majority of their time teaching and in meetings. A much smaller amount of time that we likely expect is spent on research-related tasks.

John Ziker, PhD - Faculty Time Allocation Study
John Ziker, PhD – Faculty Time Allocation Study

As someone who has been fortunate enough to teach my own courses during my time as a PhD student, I can attest to how time consuming it can be. Class sessions need to be developed, tweaked, and delivered several times a week; assignments need to be graded and reviewed; and student emails and meetings attended to. These deadlines are consistent and immediate. This tends to result in research-related tasks being pushed to the back-burner (or even moved totally off of the figurative ‘stove’).

While there will certainly always be room for improving teaching skills (and research abilities!), my wish is that as future faculty we work to acknowledge and appreciate the time professors put in to teaching (often at the expense of their research responsibilities), rather than bashing faculty we believe did not do us justice when we were students in their courses. For those holding this view that researchers do not devote enough time and effort to teaching, I imagine it will change once you get experience on the other side of the desk!

Agree? Disagree? I’d up for dialoging on this topic!






About tanyamh

A PhD Student at Virginia Tech. This blog was created as a class requirement for Contemporary Pedagogy - Spring 2013.


  1. I think the main issue is that in reality there are just some bad teachers. I think the assumption is, if they focused more on teaching and less on research then they would be better? But how do we expect them to be better if they don’t get the proper training? Dean DePauw made a comment in class that she was sad to hear that a lot of us will not have teaching experience before we finish our degrees, and I agree with that. We need to do better at preparing our future faculty on the balance of conducting research and teaching. I agree with you Tanya, I hate this sense of faculty bashing, when for a lot of people, they just weren’t ever properly trained. Teaching is very hard , especially when trying to adapt to different people’s learning styles and the ever growing and changing technology

    1. Agree 100% – training on how to teach certainly needs to be incorporated in to training of PhD students who will enter the ranks of faculty. More so than that, all 3 missions of the university should be highlighted and celebrated [research, teaching, and service] – and faculty should strive to meet all three of them! 🙂

  2. I also have never thought how time consuming teaching can be until I was involved in teaching a class. I understand your point but I feel that the problem lies more in the system. Professors are expected to produce excellent research, bring money to the department through research proposal writing, and teach a number of classes per year. The requirement and the pressure are so much that teachers who find themselves more interested in research sometimes give less time than required for teaching their classes. The current system do not treat the research faculty the same as tenure track faculties. I feel, as we discussed last time in class, faculty need to be specialized in teaching or research. The two type of faculty positions need to be looked upon as equals breaking the current hierarchy imposed by the current educational system.

    1. I disagree about faculty specializing in one area or the other. Is it difficult to juggle research, teaching, and service responsibilities? YES, but all 3 are key missions and functions of the university that faculty are to contribute too.

  3. Well said! Not to mention how completely exhausting teaching can be when you are trying to constantly be excited and engaging with the students. I mean, it really takes an emotional and mental toll, and when you are doing that on top of all your other responsibilities (including usually trying to get funding to keep your entire job afloat), it can really wear you down and make it difficult to get excited about the material. The students can sense that (like dogs, they smell fear! haha) and then everyone is having a bad time of it.

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