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GRE-AW-Issue-Faculty, practical experiences, working outside the academic world


jackrw 2 / 9  
Feb 13, 2011   #1
TOPIC: ISSUE50 - "In order to improve the quality of instruction at the college and university level, all faculty should be required to spend time working outside the academic world in professions relevant to the courses they teach."

WORDS: 652 TIME: 00:45:00

Only armed with professional experiences can a college faculty member be considered as improved in instruction. To some extent it has been accepted widely as commonsense. In AACSB accreditation, an international renowned business education accreditation, faculty members are all required to have "real world" experiences. This requirement is also adopted by EQUIS accreditation, a counterpart of AACSB accreditation in Europe.

"Real world" experiences, in many ways helps the tertiary education. First of all, most of the graduates from college and university end up chasing a career out of the ivory tower. Faculty members can have first hand perception and unverstanding of the demand from the industry through their participation into the operation of the industry. Bearing the demands of the industry in mind, they will be proactively able to identify the purpose of the course in contribution to the final competency profile of a qualified graduate from the program. The design and arrangement of different contents and key points will, thus, become more clear. The instruction is therefore improved.

Beside a more clearly-structured course, the "real world" experience has other spill-over positive effect. In the past years, my data collection reveals that faculty members with strong related industry backgrounds tend to surpass in teaching evaluation the faculty members with little or no similar experiences. The individual interview to the students shows that faculty members who has spend time working outside the academic world in professions relevant to the courses they teach can bring life into the classroom through real life stories and simulations games. As case study, a pedagogy developed by Harvard Business School in early 1920s that is in a form of group discussion while facilitated by a faculty member, becomes more and more used in classroom, a recent trend shows that those good facilitators and commanders of this method are all with strong background in industry.

More over, it is explicit that faculty members with "real world" experience are also able to diversify their profile of teaching tools. One of our most successful and welcome professor in leadership development course not only deliver lectures but also invite "real world" leaders to come and talk to us, not only guide the students to analyze cases but also force them to dress up and play the King Leer in a collaboration with local theatre. He "accidentally" has abundant indutry connections and experiences. Students in tertiary education are also adults and share very different characteristics in learning in comparison of students in primary and secondary education programs. Psychologists have long proved that adult students need a teaching tool box beyond mere lectures to truely remember and understand. It is the "real world" experiences that most likely offer the raw materials for it.

However, given all the above said, can we draw a conclusion that industrial experience is necessary for good instruction across all disciplines in college and university? No is the answer.

Teaching skills is not cultivated in real world life. In order to improve the instruction quality, workshops and seminars on teaching skills are necessary and can NOT be supplement by experiences in industry. The teaching skills are then further developed through the real teaching experiences, which is very similar to the process of language adoption. It is also important to admit that for certain subjects, i.e. theoretical physics or mathematics, etc, it is impossible to have working experience outside the academic world for these theoretical-oriented subjects, let alone the value added of these experiences is quite doubtful.

Admittedly, real world experience is very important to the quality improvement of instruction in many disciplines. However, it is over-generalized to draw a statement that all faculty members should have real world experiences. However, it is much more prudent and true to say that for practical-oriented subjects, it is very important for faculty members to have working experiences outside the academic world while the necessity would significantly reduce for faculty members from theoretial-oriented disciplines.
EF_Susan - / 2364 12  
Feb 19, 2011   #2
Faculty members can have first-hand perception and unverstanding understanding of the demand from the industry through their participation in the operation of the industry.

... contents and key points will, thus, become more clearer.

In the past years, my data collection reveals that faculty members with strong related industry backgrounds tend to surpass in teaching evaluation the faculty members with little or no similar experiences. ---Are you really in a position to collect such information? This makes it sound like you are conducting a research study. I think you should say this instead: ...In the past years, my observations reveal that ...

The teaching of skills is not cultivated in ... real world life what do you mean to say here? I tried to fix it, but I don't know what you mean to say...

That last sentence in the essay is very astute, but I think it is important to add a conclusion paragraph after that. Add a paragraph to summarize your points and restate the main idea. :-)


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