Denial of tenure for effective teachers!

Here are some thoughts from the latest Tomorrow’s professor post (Message #1170):

The results of this exploratory study provide some interesting insights into the differences in student versus faculty perceptions of an effective teacher. In general, students and faculty define effective teaching very differently. From a faculty perspective, an effective teacher should love the subject and be able to present it in multiple ways. From a student perspective, an effective teacher should be funny, interesting, and able to relate to students.

Here lies our dilemma. From an administrator’s position, if we are dependent on student evaluations to better our professors’ efforts in the classroom and, ultimately, a professor’s tenure and promotion, then are we not concerned when many students perceive an effective teacher as someone who perhaps does not deliver correct information but who keeps them entertained?

If we are interested in effective teaching, then perhaps other methods for evaluating teaching (peer observations, evaluations from those in the field of education, or the model of “teaching to the test”) should be incorporated into the mix. It is disconcerting to think that an effective teacher may be denied tenure because he or she did not induce laughter in the classroom. Again, if we are truly interested in rewarding effective teaching, then let us be assured that we understand the various definitions of effective teaching. If colleges and universities are committed to the idea of teaching and learning, then they must begin by defining this amorphous phrase of effective teaching. Research such as this study only begins to address this issue.

All these might seem fairly straightforward and obvious; however, in my experience, I have  found that these thoughts do need emphasis — lots and lots of — before they become part of our psyche.

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