The rewards of teaching

The most recent issue of the UK journal Times Higher Education carries an interesting report on a survey carried out by the British Higher Education Academy (not to be confused with our own Higher Education Authority). In a nutshell, the results of this survey reveal that many British academics, including many in the most research intensive universities, feel that teaching is neglected in terms of institutional strategies and is under-funded and under-rewarded. The article suggests that academics feel that, apart from the inadequate rewards (in particular the difficulty in making it count for promotion purposes) there are also obstacles, including the erosion of staff-student ratios and the standardisation of curricula.

It seems to me that we cannot correct this by downgrading research, not least because high value research is now critical for the economic recovery that we all need. However, it is also true that we cannot develop research  at the expense of teaching, and that we must ensure that teaching is adequately resourced and properly taken into account in academic career development. The latter issue is now critical, and in my university we are going to look more closely over coming months at how we can ensure that good teachers are recognised and promoted. This is important not just in order to encourage self-esteem for those who are both talented and dedicated teachers, but also to provide for students what they have a right to expect: that their learning experience is a priority for the university.

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2 Comments on “The rewards of teaching”

  1. Morgan Says:

    I’m interested in your opinion on the following:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/opinion/l23grades.html


  2. Morgan, this is an understandable phenomenon, and I doubt it’s really new. When we work hard and feel we have mastered the material, we are not always open to the judgement that we didn’t get it right. However, we also need safeguards to ensure that the assessment is correct – hence the system in these islands of external examiners.

    But I know that the disappointment of a grade that is far below what we had anticipated is hard to take! And of course sometimes – though I hope very rarely – the grade is indeed wrong, or at least arguable.


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