EXCERPTS & REVIEWS

Faculty Development

By Craig K. Comstock

New York Times story by Evans Jenkins on report on “faculty development” drafted by Craig K. Comstock for a committee of which he was a member, The Group for Human Development in Higher Education:

A group of scholars proposes in a report being made public today the establishment of an insurance system to make it easier for college teachers to leave their profession at mid career.

 

The proposal is the most drastic of several designed to improve the quality of teaching at a time when declining enrollments and the resulting economic pressures have sharply curbed both the mobility of faculty members and the flexibility of institutions in hiring.

 

More and more schools are concentrating these days on the report’s topic, “Faculty Development.” The term embraces not only the improvement of pedagogical skills, but also the retraining of faculty members whose disciplines have dropped in popularity....

 

The thrust of the report is the improvement of teaching proficiency, as opposed to research capability.

 

Two assumptions underlie the group’s recommendations: That at least part of what makes a good teacher can be taught to others, and that in a no-growth climate such improvement can come about with minimum expenditure.

 

“During the era of mobility,” the report says, “neglect of faculty development was harmful, but the loss was concealed; in a time of retrenchment continued neglect could become profoundly depressing.”

 

 The group’s recommendations included the following:

 

+ Efforts to upgrade teaching performance through review, evaluation and instruction by colleagues, students and outside experts.

 

+ Grading of students by third parties rather than the instructor of a given course.

 

+ Grants for teaching projects of the kind now given only for research work.

 

+ Heavy emphasis on instruction of graduate students, most of whom will become teachers...

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