Occasional Paper I: What Works: A Research-Rich Environment

A Focus on Faculty

Issues Raised:

Successful teaching must be recognized and rewarded both monetarily and non-monetarily.

Graduate fellowship grantees should be required to teach.

At the undergraduate level as well as at the graduate level, tutors and teaching assistants should be taught how to teach.

Fresh Ph.D.s should not be put in front of classes without preparation for teaching.

Teaching skills should be considered as faculty appointments are made.

The Council on Undergraduate Research and the National Alliance of Presidential Young Investigators provide good examples of supportive networks for research-active faculty.

There should be more national awards for those who are recognized by their peers and their students as outstanding undergraduate teachers, such as the Dreyfus Foundation programs.

Administrators must learn the "work cycle" of faculty colleagues, support of them, and tailor incentives to their realistic needs.

In developing new programs, faculty should incorporate procedures for evaluation and for disseminating the results.

  Recommendations:

Recognizing that the key to a strong undergraduate community is support and encouragement of faculty, we recommend:

  • Institutions and funding agencies support a wide range of growth and renewal opportunities, including:
    • programs for graduate students who teach undergraduates to become involved in curriculum development activities
    • mentoring for new post-docs, faculty sabbaticals, and leaves for mid-career faculty to become involved in both research and curriculum development activities
    • grants supporting collaborative and individual disciplinary investigation.
  • Institutions review their criteria for promotion and tenure to determine whether and how they recognize and reward faculty who are committed both to their undergraduate students and to their own intellectual vitality.
  • Funding agencies review their grant award criteria to determine whether and how they support faculty who are successful in incorporating disciplinary investigation into the undergraduate classroom and lab.
  • National professional and educational associations provide forums for faculty at all career stages to discuss the techniques and benefits for themselves and for their students of using research as a mode of teaching.