Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Well another services marketing class, another class argument started by Ed. Today we were talking about how an organisation can achieve optimum performance by setting adequate measurable standards, and unfortunately for the teacher she decided to bring up the example of setting “hard standards” for lecturers… Ed POUNCED…

Firstly I argued that ensuring that someone “has at least a masters degree” and “can operate computers proficiently” does not really mean that they will be any good at teaching students and communicating information, that what is important in a lecturer can’t really be defined in such closed terms. This of course led to a giant debate in the class about what does and doesn’t constitute a good lecturer. This was followed by the bombshell from my friend Joe who brought up the very valid point that whether you like it or not… lecturers are not there to lecture, in fact I find that the title of “lecturer” is quite misleading altogether.

The people who stand before you (for the most part) are primarily interested in research in their relevant fields, teaching is a nuisance that gets in the way for a couple of hours a week, and the sooner over the better. Universities don’t even pretend that teaching is an aside to their primary goal, research, all you have to do is snoop around a bit to find that out. Above is the UCD “mission statement” which clearly states that what they are really after is research.

So I guess my view on this is similar to the old situation with the weathermen on Irish TV, I might have this story slightly wrong, but way back when they had meteorologists present the weather, turns out that most meteorologists made pretty poor presenters, sooooo they just got people who were good at communicating to read the weather. I am on the staff/student forum and I have hear multiple complaints from students that the academics teaching them are poor communicators, often not having a high enough standard in English to teach them to any sort of adequate level. I have no doubts that the individuals in question are probably very qualified with many letters after their name and furthermore brilliant researchers… but they can’t teach.

In the Edward Fidgeon-Kavanagh school of business (at EFKU) I would recruit some people to specialise in doing research and nothing else, and others to specialise in how to best communicate this information to students. Then we could have researchers and actual “lecturers”

Although I feel I will rant on this again quite soon


Rowan Manahan said...


Nicely spotted and well ranted.

I have a relation who is head of department in a major university and also served as Dean of Research for almost 10 years (which role spanned multiple departments and committees).

His attitude to undergraduates was, and I quote, that they are "a pain in the ass, almost always a total waste of time, and they get in the way of the smooth running of the university."

He assures me that this worldview is the norm in the groves of academe ...

jedimasterbooboo said...

Good schools have this problem, schools that I went to, the students only competed with the professor's night club time.

Ed has a good idea for his school with the two different job classifications. Don't forget the third person you need to hire to serve the sunny delight. !