From the category archives:

The Academy

Lecture v Active Learning

by Dr Davis on September 14, 2015

“Given that active-learning approaches benefit all students, but especially those who are female, minority, low-income and first-generation, shouldn’t all universities be teaching this way?” NYTimes, “Are Lecture Courses Unfair?”


Something to Think About

by Dr Davis on September 13, 2015

“English majors, for example, effectively subsidize engineering students because engineering is more expensive to teach.” Adam Davidson, “Is College Tuition Really Too High?” New York Times, September 8, 2015.


T&P Portfolio

by Dr Davis on September 11, 2015

For the next little while my uni is doing the tenure and promotion portfolio online.

My boss said the essay for teaching should be about 20 pages. Mine is 84.

Scholarship is supposed to be 5-7. Mine is 35.

Service is supposed to be 5-7. Mine is 32.

No wonder they moved them online, since they were getting so bulky. Right now my t&p is 173 pages long…

Hmmm. My teaching portion is only 4x as long as they said, while my scholarship is 5x as long. Maybe I need to expand my teaching section.

Note: I went to the CHE fora and found that other SLACs have 500-1000 pages. Maybe I am missing something.


A Class on How to Live Wisely

by Dr Davis on September 9, 2015

I would take that!

I would also love to teach it.

“How to Live Wisely” in the New York Times

A number of campuses have recently started to offer an opportunity for students to grapple with these questions. On my campus, Harvard, a small group of faculty members and deans created a noncredit seminar called “Reflecting on Your Life.” The format is simple: three 90-minute discussion sessions for groups of 12 first-year students, led by faculty members, advisers or deans. Well over 100 students participate each year.

Then Richard J. Wright describes the 5 exercises.

Maybe we should have this class for 50-somethings.


Tenure and Promotion Portfolio

by Dr Davis on September 7, 2015

Eight days ago a senior colleague told me that my portfolio was due this year. The deadline for that is tomorrow.

So I stayed up late and worked on it and got up early and worked on it.

Then I found out that, no, it is not due until 2016. However, I thought that since I had already started it, I should just keep going.

My goal was to get it finished by the time it was due and then send it to some folks for review.

While it is not perfect, I think it is much improved over last year. I certainly took the recommendations to heart and worked on significant improvements.

So today I sent the link to folks to have them look at it. Hopefully it will be what people were looking for. (I thought it was last year when I did my pre-tenure review, but it wasn’t.)


Medical School Lures English Majors

by Dr Davis on August 21, 2015

NPR on May 27, 2015 has a story by Julie Rovner on a medical school revamping requirements to lure English majors.

Dr. David Muller is Mount Sinai’s dean for medical education. One wall of his cluttered office is a massive whiteboard covered with to-do tasks and memorable quotations. One quote reads: “Science is the foundation of an excellent medical education, but a well-rounded humanist is best suited to make the most of that education.”

At first it is about Mount Sinai’s own program. Eventually, however, they get to the relevant parts for non-Mount Sinai students:

The effort has worked so well, in fact, that Mount Sinai is expanding it, opening it to students in any major from any college or university. Eventually half the class will be admitted via a slightly reconfigured program, which has a new name: FlexMed.


The more often you tell me, the less I believe

by Dr Davis on August 20, 2015

Okay, I don’t think this should be applied to “I love you,” but other than that, yeah, I am starting to be a believer.

The more you tell me that “everything is awesome” and “we will have some storms,” the more I am sure the boat is leaking and a hurricane is coming.

Just saying.

Rhetoric of everyday.


“Summers Off”

by Dr Davis on July 8, 2015

Summer is a time when many academics do not teach. For some of us, particularly adjuncts, that is a time of financial hardship. But even for adjuncts without paid instructional work, and certainly for those in full-time positions, no teaching does not mean we have the summers off.

Academic work is judged on teaching, publications, and service or publications, teaching, and service–depending on the type of institution for which you work. Either way publications are an important part of the equation. Even community colleges, given a surfeit of applications, use publications to determine who to interview and hire.

Since teaching is a (sometimes more than) full-time job, work on publications is often shifted to the summer and Christmas break. We research and teach during the school year and write and submit over the summer. Or we revise and resubmit over the summer.

This summer, I have two book chapters, an article R&R, and a book to finish.

I also have to prepare my tenure and promotion portfolio.

No teaching does not mean I have summers off.


Academic Publishing

by Dr Davis on January 6, 2015

Hybrid Pedagogy begins its discussion of the digital humanities and the future of academic publishing by saying:

It is not enough to write monographs. It is not enough to publish. Today, scholars must understand what happens when our research is distributed, and we must write, not for rarified audiences, but for unexpected ones. New-form scholarly publishing requires new-form scholarly (digital) writing. Digital academic publishing may on the surface appear as a lateral move from print to screen, but in fact it brings with it new questions about copyright, data analysis, multimodality, curation, archiving, and how scholarly work finds an audience. The promise of digital publishing is one that begins with the entrance of the written, and one that concludes with distribution, reuse, revision, remixing — and finally, redistribution.

Digital publishing is a field worthy of rigorous research and deep discourse. In a post-print environment, for example, social media — Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, WordPress, or Tumblr — have supplanted the static page as the primary metaphors for how we talk about the dissemination of information. Digitized words have code and algorithms behind them, and are not arrested upon the page; rather they are restive there.

The most fascinating part of the article, and the one I really want to spend some time dwelling on at some point = “Traditional academic publishing is aimed at a scholarly process that is private and gradual, deliberate and uninterrupted by the memes and news of the day. Digital publishing is public work, packaged and poised for ready distribution.”


HOF: Everyone Helps

by Dr Davis on January 1, 2015

We all bring such different things to the departmental table. A wildly popular but not-too-rigorous teacher is essential thing for any department, because her courses entice more majors and satisfy the bean counters. A rigorous and stern teacher who students fear and only take because they have to is another valuable department member, performing an essential weeding function and providing cover for the rest of us. The professor does an adequate-but-perfunctory job in the classroom but cranks out eh grants and publications is a godsend at accreditation time and in raising the profile of your department. The colleague who is not a great teacher and has not published in years but does yeoman’s work in advising students how to graduate on time is solid gold.

These are very different things, and a strong department needs them all. And if you are really, really good at one or two things and proud of that, it is way too easy to disparage and diminish the essential roles played by your colleagues–particularly if it is someone you dislike. You mentally count the number of times you see students waiting outside the door of your colleague who often misses his office hours, forgetting that he also took a van full of undergrads to the national conference the week before.

It is also true that there are colleagues who bring nothing to the departmental table. But in 15 years at two different institutions, I have never worked with such a person. I have had colleagues I disliked, who let me down or blocked me on important projects or otherwise offended. But objectively speaking, they all contributed to the department. There are very very few genuinely negligent colleagues.

From larryc