Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Applying for Faculty Jobs at Community Colleges
If you really want to be Professor Kingsfield, weeding out the unworthy, these are not the places for you. But if you attend to the craft of teaching with as much intellectual vigor and love as you do your subject matter, you may find a wonderful life here.
Funny but my piece for next Monday also mention's John Houseman's rendering of Charles Kingsfield. Given that we two may be the only ones who remember The Paper Chase, you might enjoy the piece. It will be at http://adjunctularnoodling.blogspot.com.
But, how often do hiring committees treat someone with a Masters of Arts in Teaching in X field as a serious candidate for a position when compared with someone with a Masters in X field?
I'm really asking a genuine question here... My rationale: such people should have an undergraduate major plus about 12 or 15 graduate credits in the field, and, they should have had some education courses (I know, people love to hate on ed school courses, but what about a "how to teach X" class? Doesn't that seem useful? What about "this is how people learn X" also seems like it would be pretty useful, right?).
I'm really just curious, I have no idea...
Our preference for the PhD degree in the sciences is merely a side effect of depth of understanding of the subject and the knowledge needed to explain subtle concepts. Many MS grads, especially from second rate colleges, just don't have that and getting burned that way is a big problem for reasons that Dean Dad listed.
Agree with DD on the point about c.v. -vs- resume. The key point is that it should not start with scientific research interests and publications. It must start with classess taught as the lead instructor and intersts related to teaching and learning.
I should probably update what I wrote on my blog many moons ago. This article provides a good entry point, but it is part 5 (on CC jobs) from an earlier series that has the most detail.
But, if the course load that the new hire is going to be teaching is 4 sections of Comp 101? Or, 3 sections of Pre-calc and 1 section of Discrete Mathematics? I have trouble buying that a Masters in English or Masters in math is better preparation for teaching that load than a decent undergrad and a couple grad classes coupled with some ed classes.
Maybe I should phrase my question differently; do search committees give preference to people who have taken classes in Educ about learning and teaching in the field (this comment should really be read just about math, I know so little about anything else...)?
But, the question that's really underlying this: if someone comes in and gives a good lecture, is that evidence of "good teaching"? Are candidates even asked, "do you favor lecturing, or, have you adopted any of the research-based undergraduate curricula?" For example, the pre-calc and associated calc curriculum from Arizona that's demonstrating huge gains and is specifically designed for community colleges? (Ironically, the same system in which the researchers designed it has made everything computer-driven).
Everything we know about lecture says that it's good for transmitting information (then again, so are books and the internet) but not much else... Which makes it a decent way to promote memorized facts and skill building. But, even for skill building, things like computer-aided instruction are better.
I'm putting my last answer first: If someone comes in and gives a "good lecture", we consider that to be evidence that they have not adopted any of the research-based developments in how to get students to learn physics, no matter what they say. There is no reason that a teaching demonstration cannot include "pair share" or some other active learning exercise if that is what the person does in the classroom.
I've never been on a search committee for comp, so I don't know what they look for at my CC. (I also don't know how far "outside" they go for outside members. We tend to use math and a really different science for our science positions.) I do recollect asking a comp instructor if they look for people with a degree in rhetoric/composition, after reading about that movement on IHE, and being told they would like that but consider learn-on-the-job experience just as valuable.
Among the great diversity of CCs, ours is one where many of those teaching a high school class like trig or pre-calc are also going to teach calculus through differential equations. (The same is not true for those expected to teach only lower level classes, ones that are NEVER taught by t-t faculty at a university.) Our hires appear to reflect an emphasis on (1) maintaining a standard at least as high as at the universities our best students will transfer to and (2) having a pure math MS plus lots of additional teaching experience and sometimes a second degree such as an MA or PhD in math ed. I have not seen any instance where a math ed degree alone would suffice outside of the HS-like developmental classes.
In physics, most of us know what an MAT consists of at an R1 university and consider it inadequate preparation to teach physics to future engineering or physics majors. We'd like someone who can solve Maxwell's equations at least as well as an EE senior designing antennas. Ditto for the person teaching calc 3, I might add.