Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Student projects and tenure

I am still musing about the life style of being early in the tenure track. It would be fun to compare my thoughts after tenure (the reality of it) to the guesses I'm making now, but among other things, I expect that once I feel more secure, my attitude to student projects would change.

For now, I cannot afford having my "independent" student projects fail. I need them to produce good publishable results, which means that I am stealing a bit from their experience (maybe): I micromanage their experiment designs, protocols, and data collection; dictate the logic of the study, and generally stay a bit too close to what they are doing to truly call it an independent project. They have to succeed, you see. They cannot afford to fail.

In a more secure situation, I guess I would have given them much more leeway and freedom in terms of both what and how to study. Or at least this is the attitude I see among my more senior colleagues: they don't micromanage nearly as much as I do. Which is probably better for the students; at least for strong ones. But we'll see.

Apparently, there are changes in the teaching style that come with tenure as well, from what I hear. Early-career untenured folks put much more effort into performing in front of the class: the demos, jokes, stories, stage effects. Tenured profs do what is best for the students, which sometimes (not always, but frequently) is less entertaining than spiels and tricks. Controlled group work for example is not nearly as much fun as a well-staged lecture-performance on a hot topic. Yet we know (from some real pedagogical studies) that it works better. And tenured folks seem to be doing more of it, even at the expense of half a grade in the teaching evaluation, because they can afford to care about the result of their teaching, not about the impression they make.

Strongly speaks in favor of tenure as an institute, I guess.

No comments:

Post a Comment