I have been pondering the role of research in higher education and what role it plays in opportunity for students.
In graduate school, we train people in research. When hiring to teach higher ed, we (generally) expect people to have PhDs or a similar terminal degree in a discipline because then they should ostensibly be somewhat knowledgeable about not only the history of the discipline, but the current trends, and how new knowledge in that field is constructed (I realize that there are fields that are exceptions to this). And when we take them out of the field of study, that is take them away from research, do we not take them away from this endeavor? That is to say, are we not doing the students that they train a disservice to not have faculty remain current in research? Part of my joy is sharing my research (or heck, other people's research as I come across interesting papers) with my students, even my non-majors. How does this translate to a community college professor teaching 5 classes, multiple preps, not doing research, and (I assume? Perhaps I am incorrect?) largely unable to keep up with current literature? What about students who want the chance to actually try the field on (i.e., see what research in a given discipline really is)? Does it matter that early?
I feel like knowledge keeps progressing, techniques change, and I wonder how CC profs are able to keep up, because I really don't know. Sure, Socrates and the first law of thermodynamics aren't going to change, but what we have learned in the past few years has. I suppose the question could equally apply to the increasing reliance on adjuncts at other places as well as lecturers who have no research program; I understand the cost tradeoffs here (and that some people even prefer this path), but my same question applies. I am curious what your wise and worldly readers have to say about this, as well.
Please understand, my goal here is not to make judgements but simply to ask how research informs teaching and whether it factors in at the community college level (and to educate myself). I also understand that at research-intensive schools, there are plenty of faculty who do research yet don't give a rat's behind about integrating it in the classroom...or really the classroom at all. For what it's worth, I am largely in the SLAC world, and in the sciences, which both color my views.
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