Asking the Question in Higher Education: Do You Love Teaching?

I don’t know of a study that addresses the question Nick is asking here. It may certainly exist — I’m not up on research in higher education. (For the CS folk who read this list, there are actually departments in schools of education just on higher education administration, and you can get your doctorate in it.) What percentage of faculty in various kinds of higher education (community college, liberal arts college, research university) want to teach? Enjoy it? Want to get better at it? The closest that we in our group have come to exploring this question is when Lijun Ni interviewed CS faculty in the University System of Georgia, and was told by one faculty member (at a school with a teaching-primary mission) that he was not a computing educator and was not interested in getting better at it. What’s the percentage overall?

Have we actually ever asked people these key questions as a general investigation? “Do you like teaching?” “What do you enjoy about teaching?” “What can we do to make you enjoy teaching more?” Would this muddy the water or clear the air? Would this earth our non-teaching teachers and fire them up? Even where people run vanity courses (very small scale, research-focused courses design to cherry pick the good students) they are still often disappointed because, even where you can muster the passion to teach, if you don’t really understand how to teach or what you need to do to build a good learning experience, then you end up with these ‘good’ students in this ‘enjoyable’ course failing, complaining, dropping out and, in more analogous terms, kicking your puppy. You will now like teaching even less!

Deepa Singh
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