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CHAPI13R 17 Rewarding ExceUence in Teaching: An Administrative Challenge William H. Mobley Samuel H. Smith, Rapporteur The session of the conference described in this chapter opened with the assumption that a balance between teaching and research is established as a clear need in the university. This chapter turns our attention to how to achieve that balance through administrative influence, action, and encouragement. Specifically, this chapter is concerned with the process of recognizing and rewarding the most effective teaching, thereby leading to the improvement of under- graduate programs in universities. An organizing premise of the entire conference was that scholar- ship, research, and undergraduate education are interactive in the university. We have built our faculties on the basis of the fact that if one is improved, so are the others. Setting standards of expecta- tion of anyone who teaches in the university and rewarding excel- lence in teaching does not mean a Reemphasis of research and graduate education. It means reinstalling undergraduate education as a priority in the comprehensive university. A challenge to presidents and provosts will be to ensure that deans, directors of experiment stations and extension services, and department heads recognize that undergraduates are vital to their self-interests. In a larger sense, the undergraduate program dic- tates the nature of the pipeline. It is the one component that must be concerned about future teachers, scientists, deans and direc- tors, innovators and entrepreneurs, agriculturalists, and human ca- pabilities. We accept the principle that the university gains in intellectual strength through its research and scholarship. The reputation of the university grows as the extent of its research and graduate 141
AGRICULTURE AND THE UNDERGRADUATE programs grows in quality and scope. That is the national focus. Society's support, however, particularly support by state legisla- tures, public support, and the support of economic institutions within the state, region, and country, is dependent more on the quality and success of the baccalaureate and professional program grad- uates. Undergraduate education represents the strongest con- stituent influence on legislators. Although doctoral graduates are a strong demonstration of the quality of a faculty and can help to facilitate aspects of the collegial and granting agency networks, relatively few doctoral graduates have helped us in the state leg- islature. The challenge to the university administration lies in facilitating such a reemphasis of teaching. it is a matter of creating the appro- priate climate or ambience. The administration must communicate its desires and intent to reward teaching. It will be only rhetoric until actions that include loath extrinsic and intrinsic rewards con- firm the administrative intent. The university administration should recognize the fact that the faculty that will carry out teaching activities is already largely in place. The faculty is there, although faculty turnover- and perhaps growth provides opportunities to set new directions. Most universi- ties and colleges of agriculture have faculty members who want to teach. They take pleasure in their work and desire to do it well. it may be a matter of simply giving them the opportunity and time to do so. it is more likely, however, that it is also essential to recog- nize and reward those who want to teach and do it well and make them feel that their efforts are relevant and important in the modern university that aspires to preeminence. Too frequently we criticize poor teaching, but we fail to adequately recognize and reward good teaching. The current system of evaluation and reward is based on the concept that the business of the comprehensive research univer- sity is developing and transmitting knowledge. (Increasingly, inno- vation is added to the mix of missions of the university as technol- ogy transfer becomes a greater goal of national policy ) The system of rewarding research is established by the scientific community. Peers reward research by evaluating and accepting publications for research journals. Grants are rewards for well-written ideas and peer-evaluated research. Promotion, tenure, and salary are rewards for those who have become competitive in the scientific and academic marketplace. Within the bounds of the university's goals and objectives, it is fairly easy to administer the rewards for research. It is more difficult to administer well the rewards for teaching. The system for evaluating research is well developed and en- trenched. Such evaluation is, in fact, a means by which universi- ties compare themselves with each other. Exceptional teaching is 142
REWARDING EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING also recognized within all institutions. But universal standards for evaluating teaching similar to those used for evaluating research simply do not exist. it is more difficult to compare the teaching excellence in one university vis a vis that in other universities. Teaching is not validated by a disciplinary Uinvisible" college of colleagues. A professor highly valued for his or her pedagogic abilities does not really have his or her value set by the academic market. Some sense of the knowledge of the recognized teacher may be obtained, of course, if the faculty member contributes to the synthesis of knowledge in books, book chapters, teaching mod- ules, reviews, summaries, national or institutional study commit- tees, and campus distinguished teaching awards. For the outstand- ing, well-loved professor, however, there is no universal prize that recognizes professional competence. The reward system for excellence in teaching is, in fact, not a single issue. It involves a multiplicity of factors. The rewards for teaching must be tied into the academic programs, the entire re- ward system, the administrative philosophy, the physical environ- ment, and the appreciation of the faculty7s perception of the job. Understanding the last factor may be the most important. Faculty members are each educated in depth in a subject matter or discipline. Few are educated in educational psychology, meth- ods of instruction, or ways to change human behavior. They are employed because they have skills and special knowledge, and they probably will resist attempts to get them to perform in ways in which they are not equipped. At Texas A&M University, we have created the Center for Teaching Excellence to provide a focal point for enhancing faculty teaching skills, researching approaches that enrich the classroom experience, communicating effective ideas and approaches, and providing diagnostic, evaluative, and devel- opment services on the individual and departmental levels. One of our Capital Campaign goals is to endow this center, and we have found it to be a very attractive concept for donors. Whatever we do, the lecture-seminar-laboratory-testing-grading method of instruction will continue to dominate university education. The single teacher-knowledgeable, experienced, and insightful with a group of well-prepared students will continue to characterize the best of undergraduate and graduate teaching. Thus, the most im- portant factor is the faculty member. The rewards can be recognition, promotion, salary, and tenure. Also, they can be improvement of the environment of the teaching faculty: graduate assistants to help develop courses, word proces- sors, assistance with slide preparation, and secretarial assistance. Or they can be titular recognition, pedagogical research support, travel to national meetings, sabbatical study, and time to focus on instructional development activities. We are well aware of the cyni- cism that can develop among our faculty and students when we 143
AGRICULTURE AND THE UNDERGRADUATE give only lip service to excellence in teaching but reward only excellence in research. The administrative challenge will also be to recognize the special problems of the faculty. Young tenure-track faculty members face immense problems. There is a bureaucracy with which they must cope. They must seek financial sponsorship. Many would like to teach, but they have uncounted pressures on their time. The sys- tem makes little allowance for cultural and personal problems. Mi- nority faculty members face special problems brought on by both the general competitive aspects of faculty life and the need that they act as role models and mentors for the minority students and serve on a disproportionate number of search, academic, and other committees. Although there is an extensive amount of literature critical of university teaching, particularly undergraduate teaching, the admin- istration has had only scant guidance on what is truly feasible. The common recommendation for the evaluation of teaching is the peri- odic, regular student evaluation of the course. The greatest value of such an evaluation is probably that it has caused faculty mem- bers to think about their performances, course contents, methods of delivery, and cooperation with each other. The student evalua- tion may become less reliable at least less approbative when there is an intent to introduce greater rigor into the course. At present, however, there seems little that can replace it-nor should it necessarily be replaced but it does need to be supplemented. We have institutionalized the practice of student evaluation of teaching. Additional approaches, however, seem desirable. One might be reports of the faculty members themselves. Another might be peer evaluation of the ability of the faculty member to perform, for example, in a seminar, if not in a classroom. Another, too, might be the evaluation of materials prepared by the faculty mem- ber, or videotaping for self or peer critiquing of classroom presenta- tions and interactions. We are not looking for a radical change in the kind of teaching carried out in universities. What we are looking for is improvement in the effectiveness of the teaching- a reaffirmation of an old priority. The primary factors that should be measured are those charac- teristics that we can expect faculty members to have: · Rigorous academic preparation for the subject being taught. One technique to achieve this is for the faculty member to spend time in research and scholarship. · The ability to prepare adequate test materials and assignments. Improvement of teaching lies in the demand for precise and de- manding requirements of student performance; but experimenta- tion, innovation, nontraditional courses, and encouragement of broader education are valuable as well. 144
REWARDING EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING · The characteristics of energy, ability to perform, enthusiasm, humility, generosity, honesty, and sense of reality and balance. Add to these the encouragement, as far as possible, of the one- on-one relationship of each student with some mature, adult faculty member. This is not a wide range of expectations, but they are the marks of teaching excellence that the university administration must strive to reward. The answers will not come by climbing aboard some bandwagon. Until an accepted general formula is devised, the answers will likely come from innovative approaches that can be tested within each university. Several possible innovations may be worthy of explora- tion. For example: · Differentiated career tracks for pedagogical professors and re- search professors. All would have teaching, research, and service expectations, but the mix would differ. · A proportion of the faculty dedicated to undergraduate instruc- tion as the primary dimension of the professional role. · A separate faculty and reward system for servicing the core curriculum. · Required course(s) and supervised teaching internships for graduate assistants. · Dramatic reduction in the use of multiple-choice examinations and an increase in essay examinations and didactic instruction. · Increased emphasis on matching learning styles and instruc- tional methodology. · Increased use of well-developed, individualized, interactive, pro- gramed instruction in basic courses. I established the University Multiple Missions Task Force to ex- amine such issues. Administrators have an important role to play in helping to create expectations and reward systems that effectively reaffirm our com- mitment to undergraduate teaching in the multiple-mission, compre- hensive research university. RAPPORTEUR9S SUMMARY A clear message was articulated by William H. Mobley during his comments concerning the rewarding of excellence in teaching. The message was that if an institution wishes to maintain or enhance quality in teaching, it needs to establish clear expectations coupled with a consistent reward system. 145
AGRICULTURE AND THE UNDERGRADUATE 1 have attempted to capture the tone of the discussion that fol- lowed the formal presentation and hope that the messages it con- tained are equally clear. Teaching is a major function of any college or university. Unfor- tunately, over the past few decades, as research and public service have been included within institutional missions, the roles of teach- ing and teachers have become blurred. Many in our institutions were hired as teachers prior to this change and are now frustrated or angry. The rules of the game have changed. The perception is that rewards go to researchers or grant ugetters," with little recogni- tion of teachers' efforts. The frustration that teachers feel in not being recognized for their teaching ability is altering the actions of newly hired or junior fac- ulty members. Those new to academia quickly learn how to ad- vance their careers. in many institutions, particularly the larger ones, the most rapid career path is often through research. it is not surprising, then, that younger faculty members shy away from teaching. The problems relative to recognizing teaching are further compli- cated by the fact that institutional officials are constantly stating that they truly value teaching, but their reward system clearly shows that these statements are hypocritical at best. It has been sug- gested that the best means of valuing an institution's desire to reward teaching excellence is not to count the numbers of plaques given out annually for teaching performance but to compare the growth in budgets for teaching, research, and public service. Dur- ing our discussion, a participant asked when was the last time anyone had heard a university president boast of recruiting an out- standing teacher? A participant also asked when we had last heard of an outstanding teacher being recruited away by another institu- tion, being given a major salary increase, or being asked to bring his or her teaching assistants along when starting a new job? Before we despair, however, the problem of rewarding excel- lence in teaching is relatively clear, and there are options. We looked first at how to evaluate teaching. The obvious way is that used for peer evaluation of research, which uses the numbers of refereed journal articles as a measure of quality or productivity. in our discussion, it became clear that peer evaluation of research is broader than the individual institutions and is closely linked with international professional standards. These superinstitutional stan- dards were then contrasted to those for teaching, which tend to be linked most strongly to an individual institution. We need to recog- nize that research evaluation is largely globally based, and in most instances, teaching evaluations are generally local. The local nature of teaching evaluations should be viewed as positive rather than negative. It is easier to affect local evaluation systems than it is to affect teacher evaluations on a global basis. We should not be anguishing over the lack of a widely accepted 146
REWARDING EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING system of evaluations for teaching but, instead, attempting to im- prove the systems that exist in our own institutions. The concept of valuing research by counting the numbers of research articles or grant money is probably more expedient than accurate. This means of valuing research, although probably not terribly accurate, is generally accepted. Discussion was particu- larly aimed at those who are searching for the perfect means of teacher evaluation, or the "Holy Grail," in the words of one of the discussion participants. It was strongly suggested that, although it is good to keep searching for the Holy Grail, we still need to de- velop an evaluation system that would be accepted at individual institutions. In other words, do not delay the establishment of an accepted evaluation system while looking for the Holy Grail. An accepted means of teacher evaluation could be used to shape behaviors of faculty members as well as those of departmental, college, or university administrators. The institution would be com- municating its expectations while it would be positively reinforcing behavioral patterns consistent with those expectations. During the discussion, the need to positively reinforce teachers was stressed, and the advancement of faculty members solely because of their research was lamented. This discussion was, as a whole, realistic yet optimistic. It was recognized that the changing role of institutions of higher education has resulted in the creation of a role broader than teaching. This more inclusive role was not viewed negatively but was recognized as creating a need to set expectations in teaching and couple them with a consistent reward system. 147