Re: the future of teaching

Anj Petto (ajpetto@MACC.WISC.EDU)
Sat, 24 Sep 1994 10:45:50 -0600

Even if faculty WANT to develop their skills as consummate teachers,....

We met with our dean to set up a program to encourage teaching excellence
in our faculty. He made it clear that there was a real problem for
tenure-track faculty to concentrate on teaching. Here are the tenure

1) A national reputation in research (as evident in publications in
peer-reviewed journals);
2) A national reputation for teaching (evidence for this is harder to come
by, especially for the junior faculty who are new at it and have to worry
about tenure);
3) Community service (as evident in volunteer activities, advisory and
consultative positions, directorships and other such associations).

So, it is easiest to show that one has accomplished 1 and 3; it is nearly
impossible to demonstrate 2 -- especially in that it doesn't matter how
well one teaches ONE'S OWN CLASSES and students at THIS university. Just
being the world's best teacher won't get you tenure here (or a lot of other
places), the world has to acknowledge you somehow. And in your first 4-5
years of full-time university teaching, how likely is that?

At least it is clear what sort of teaching excellence is valued and how it
might relate to tenure cases. Until the departmental and divisional tenure
committees change these criteria, good teaching is not going to be
encouraged and nurtured, despite warm fuzzy pronouncements of high
university officials.


Andrew J. Petto, PhD
Associate Director
Center for Biology Education
666 WARF, University of Wisconsin
610 North Walnut Street
MADISON WI 53705-2397

Voice: 608.263-0478
Fax: 608.262-0014
Bitnet: ajpetto@wiscmacc