TRANSFORMING GRADUATE EDUCATION: PREPARING FUTURE COLLEGE PROFESSORS TO TEACH. A CALL FOR THE PROFESSIONALIZATION OF COLLEGE TEACHING
St.John's and Harvard University (UNITED STATES)
Given the current state of the professoriate, with low salaries, poor working conditions, the high level of education needed to enter, and the current state of the economy combined with the cost of graduate education, there are less numbers of our brightest students seeking to enter the ranks of college teaching (especially in certain fields). This combined with the fact that as we're moving through the 21st century more and more faculty will be approaching retirement age; the shortage of talented, well-trained faculty will be upon us. It is this difficult condition that can serve as a realistic opportunity to change the future of the professoriate. The change being; developing a college faculty that are not only experts in their given discipline but a professoriate that is also learned/knowledgeable in college teaching.
What is being proposed is the creation of a supplementary program component in college teaching that all Ph.D. candidates must complete if they are interested in meeting the requirements to enter the professoriate. The call is for the future professoriate to have had a common learning experience (preperation) which they will all have shared, as is the case with all other professions. College faculty have almost always eemerged from doctoral programs deficient in most skills of teaching: the formulation of teaching/learning goals, curriculum and course construction, an understanding of student differences, the development of a good lecture, the conduct of lively discussion, the adequate use of teaching aids, and the evaluation of students. Most college professors spend the majority of their time in the classroom or with some teaching related activity, yet most have never been trained/educated to perform any of those functions.
The proposed concept (program) would not only obviously benefit students, by now exposing them to faculty who were much better prepared to carry out their roles, but the faculty would also benefit by being best prepared to teach. The average faculty member of the future after having been trained to teach will be in a position to maximize his/her position in passing on to one's students all they know within and about their disciplines. The additional benefit will be that we will have a true professionalization of the professoriate, who will all have had a shared/common learning experience regardless of their area of expertise. Given these inherent benefits, another likely outcome will most likely be a greater sense of accomplishment and esteem on the part of the faculty, as well as a much more cohesive faculty that will be able to "talk" to each other across disciplines about college teaching. And finally, the professionalization of college teaching will address the public "outcries" regarding accountability on the part of Higher Education.
This paper will present a proposed program addressing the common professional development program that all prospective faculty will be required to experience. The ensuing discussion will also be used to acquire ideas for producing such a program.