Perlman, B., & McCann, L. I. (1997, Fall).The Place of Teaching in Faculty Recruitinga. The Department Chair, 8(2), 10-11.
In previous articles we have discussed ethics and planning as each relates to faculty recruiting. We now focus on the place of teaching in the hiring process.
An Emphasis on Teaching Makes Sense
To maintain and improve the quality of teaching, recruitment committees must emphasize teaching ability as a selection criterion. Keep in mind that most faculty spend a great deal of time teaching, an average of 64% of faculty time, and as high as 70% in community colleges (Bowen & Schuster, 1986, p. 15). Good teachers motivate students, recruit majors, and represent a discipline in the classroom. In addition, the hiring and retention of good teachers need not be antithetical to hiring faculty who are also good scholars or artistic performers.
A successful faculty recruitment requires the identification of good teachers through a process of obtaining teaching information from applicants and assessing it. Four rules of thumb are:
o Even a small increase in attention to teaching yields large dividends
o Be patient. A greater emphasis on teaching may be different from previous recruitments and require some adjustments o Be open to and appreciative of the various teaching styles and models you will encounter during the recruitment process
o Keep in mind the need for a fit between candidates' teaching interests and expertise and the needs of your department and students.
Teaching Information To Obtain and Abilities To Look For
Let us assume that you are ready to hire and support a good teaching faculty member. You may find that the potential to teach well is more difficult to judge than scholarly potential. How do you identify the best teachers from among the various candidates who differ so much from one another, and from you, on how they approach students, pedagogy, and the classroom? We suggest focusing on what good teachers do and learning as much as possible about a candidate's teaching. Whenever possible, it is valuable to request candidates' self evaluations of their teaching.
I. The McFadden and Perlman Model of Excellent Teaching
McFadden and Perlman (1989) have developed a model that identifies three basic elements each with three underlying dimensions. Recruiters should attend to each of these nine facets as they read teaching statements, portfolios, and letters of recommendation, and talk with and observe candidates teach.
1. Self Efficacy. Do candidates believe they can teach effectively? Confidence and a sense of purpose based on experience are important ingredients of good teaching.
o Intellectual - Knowledge of subject matter and pedagogy.
o Emotional - Excitement about the subject matter and students.
o Moral - Ability to recognize and resolve ethical (moral) issues in teaching.
2. Interpersonal Skills. Teachers interact with students and colleagues daily. It is important to assess how well candidates relate to others.
o Intellectual - Relates to others intellectually, discuss ideas, and accepts differing viewpoints.
o Emotional - Establishes rapport, and relate to students appropriately.
o Moral - Sensitive regarding ethical conduct with students both in and out of the classroom, and with colleagues.
3. Pedagogy. Someone who is or has the potential to be an excellent teacher must have a good knowledge of pedagogical issues or a willingness to obtain such knowledge.
o Intellectual - Understands the techniques and process of teaching.
o Emotional - Responds well to the emotional situations inherent in teaching (e.g., the down feelings following failed lectures, and one class endlessly following on another).
o Moral - Appreciates the moral issues inherent in teaching in terms of viewpoints presented, the acceptance or rejection of student ideas, or in exam and grading practices.
II. Practical Teaching Activities
Another way to identify good teaching involves attending to the practical things teachers know and do. Candidates may not have experience nor excel in all, but they might be expected to discuss them knowledgeably.
1. Course Preparation. A good teacher must manage course development.
2. Classroom Work. Your new colleague must perform well in the classroom.
3. Teaching in the Laboratory or Studio. Laboratory or studio teaching includes skills and responsibilities that differ, at least in degree, from those required in the more typical classroom. Does the candidate have the requisite skills?
4. Instructional Technologies. Candidates must be familiar with ever-changing instructional technologies.
5. Teaching Within a Context. Courses differ in their placement within an overall program or institutional curriculum. Successful teachers must be able to alter course focus and content depending on whether the course is part of a Liberal Arts Curriculum, Pre?Professional Major, or Graduate School Preparatory Track.
6. Teaching Across the Curriculum. Many instructors consider the extent to which they might appropriately include the teaching of science, mathematics, writing, critical thinking, ethics, or cultural diversity in their courses.
7. Assessing Student Learning. This is an essential, though rarely popular, instructional component. The candidate should be prepared to deal with the various elements of evaluation.
8. Out?of-Classroom Work. Many interactions outside the classroom significantly influence student training and education. Candidates need a good working knowledge of, and probably some practical experience with such subjects as the ethics of student?faculty relations, holding office hours, and advising/counseling students.
III. Candidate Preparation and Experience
You may wish to learn about the following items, each related both to good teaching and to the fit between candidate and position.
1. Depth, Breadth, and Expertise
o Specialty area and courses they could teach in this area
o Breadth, other areas and courses they could/can teach
2. Preparation and Experience
o Past teaching including teaching assistant experience
o Information and observations on courses taught
o Teaching innovations
3. Instructional Materials and Feedback
o Course syllabi, reading or repertoire lists from courses
o Student evaluations/opinion data
o Peer evaluations of teaching
o Examinations and assignments
o Teaching technology and equipment needed
o Work with students outside the classroom or studio
o Outcomes of teaching (e.g., student posters, papers,
o Videotape of teaching, artistic performance, art work
4. Teaching Development
o Books/articles read
o Other evidence of development
Learning About Candidates' Teaching
Insist on information related to teaching for use in making your decision.
Require a Teaching Statement
People writing letters of recommendation may not have seen candidates teach, and many applicants' resumes contain little information on teaching. We advise that all applicants be required to submit an initial one or two page statement addressing their teaching philosophy, strategies, goals, and the rewards of teaching.
Require A Teaching Portfolio of All Semi-Finalists
A wider array of materials which document teaching experience should be specifically requested and then evaluated for all semi-finalists. We recommend that modified Teaching Portfolios be required only after the number of candidates has been sufficiently reduced to allow the recruitment committee to read each one carefully. A few points to keep in mind:
Portfolios Are Helpful for Candidates. Preparation of this document for one position will result in its availability for submission with any subsequent application, to candidates' potential benefit.
Make Teaching Portfolios Useful and Relevant. Decide what teaching abilities and experiences are most important as selection criteria and then request portfolios with that information. You may want to let candidates provide any other materials they wish. This process assists candidates (and you) in deciding whether they are a good fit for the opening.
Limit Portfolio Length. No rational recruitment committee would ask for all of the information above. Limit the portfolio to 5 to 7 pages (plus appendices, e.g., syllabi, student course evaluations). Candidates should be concise and focused in what they say, recruitment committees in what they require.
Attend to Teaching During Campus Visits
Have candidates guest teach a class with faculty and students in attendance, and discuss teaching with them. By asking questions and listening carefully to candidates' responses you will learn a great deal about their philosophy of, and experience with teaching.
Assessing Candidate Teaching Information
Develop a rating sheet each recruitment committee member can complete when reading files. Label topics required from all candidates as Core Areas, and leave space for remarks and ratings of optional areas and comments. You may want an overall ranking on a candidate's teaching and/or separate rankings on each major area. We strongly advise restricting your evaluation sheet to one page.
Be Aware of Candidate Experience
Experienced candidates have taught more and their portfolios may be fuller, and more polished and thoughtful. Remember that relatively new faculty lack experience but may have the potential to teach well. Look for good ideas, good writing, and maturity.
Use Multiple Sources
Expect to have to follow up on teaching statements, portfolios, and campus visits to obtain more information for some candidates. Look for a good fit with the most important areas for the position in all application materials.
Attention to teaching in the recruiting process requires little additional effort, but it pays big dividends in terms of better instruction for your students - and fewer problems for the department chair.
a Based on Perlman, B., & McCann, L.I. (1996). Recruiting Good College Faculty: Practical Advice For A Successful Search. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing.
Bowen, H. R., & Schuster, J. H. (1986). American professors: A national resource imperiled. New York: Oxford University Press.
McFadden, S., & Perlman, B. (1989). Faculty recruitment and excellent undergraduate teaching. Teaching of Psychology, 16, 195-198.