How many times have you suffered through a lecture given by an instructor who, frankly, can’t teach? An organizational psychologist at the renowned Wharton School gives his opinion about this state of affairs in the op-ed section of the New York Times.
The argument is built around a recently published study by Figlio, et al., (2014) showing that students in introductory classes consistently learn more from non-tenure track faculty compared to their tenured/tenure track counterparts. The study implies that non-tenure track (read – temporary help in the academy) faculty are more skilled, and better, teachers than tenured/tenure track faculty.
My take on this is that there are plenty of tenured/tenure track faculty who are excellent teachers. This excellent pool of teaching is probably greatly diluted by those whose sole focus is on research and grant writing. Unfortunately, most faculty are required to teach with relatively little emphasis placed on quality. Tenure track faculty at most large universities (MIT, Oxford, Harvard, and Cambridge, etc.) cannot become tenured unless they are running a highly visible research program. Quality teaching and little or no research will not count.
There is far more to this situation than I have written here. Here is the link for the excellent op-ed piece on this subject. An excellent read for anyone interested in academia and the current state of affairs in higher education.