Friday, July 11, 2008

Learning to be an Assistant Professor

An article in Inside Higher Ed cites a study showing that a majority of Assistant Professors don’t feel well prepared for many aspects of their new jobs. They feel much more confident after five years of on the job training. I’ve mentioned this general topic before, as I think graduate schools need to provide classes and/or seminars on what is required of professors.

The American Political Science Association has a new book on writing and publishing, which are obviously critical skills, but the profession requires much more. You start your job and suddenly have a host of responsibility you are unfamiliar with. As the editor of an academic journal, more than once I’ve been asked by prospective reviewers exactly how to go about writing their review. I am happy to do so--I was similarly not taught how to do so, and only started picking it up after reading reviews of my own submissions. But that sort of skill should be taught in Ph.D. programs.


Miguel Centellas 10:05 AM  

I agree. My PhD program at Western Michigan University did prepare us for teaching. We were required to take a total of three credits (a one-credit and a two-credit course) on teaching. But we didn't do much about publishing and/or writing book reviews, manuscript reviews, etc.

Greg Weeks 10:16 AM  

Teaching is better than nothing--I was a TA (where I did learn a lot about teaching) but did not get any formal training.

Anonymous,  11:59 AM  

A friend of mine taught a graduate course on teaching this year. It included "teaching" a 50-minute class to the other grad students.

I think they used a few articles from a column I'd recommended, James Lang's On Course column in the Chronicle of Higher Education. See


Greg Weeks 7:56 AM  

I think that sort of thing is good, but teaching is just one part of what professors do. For whatever reason, there is little discussion about the profession as a whole.

Anonymous,  9:04 PM  

My mom makes the same comment about seminary not preparing her to actually be a pastor (management and such). Of course she went 30 some years ago and hears they´ve gotten better.

Greetings from Brazil (I´ve been posting about the experience a bit on my personal blog)!

Greg Weeks 8:06 AM  

Yes, I could see how that might have a similar dynamic. Enjoy Brazil! I'll check out the blog.

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