Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Faculty Pay based on teaching

My colleague provides some interesting links about better and effective teaching. Taking this to an extreme, my alma mater, Texas A&M University, has recently instituted a system where a bonus pay of $10,000 per year will be given based on teaching evaluations by students. This seems to be a blatant approach of consumerism to higher education. While student evaluations of faculty are important, it is well known that "good" student evaluations can always be obtained if the faculty gives out easy grades and does not give out hard assignments. A major study by Ohio State University in 2007 found absolutely no correlation between student evaluations and actual learning.

But Aleamoni said that even if his research suggests that some student evaluations — designed in ways that differ from the Texas A&M approach — can be reliable, he has always stressed that these evaluations should never be the sole basis for a decision about the quality of someone’s teaching. “Students are only in a position to judge performance in the classroom,” Aleamoni said.

Any real evaluation of teaching, he said, must include peer analysis of such issues as, “How well was the course designed? Are the materials current and up to date? Have they set up the right kinds of standards for the students?” And students aren’t in a position to judge these things, he added.

Of course, one does not have to worry about this in IISc, where teaching is minimal. At one time I used to teach three main courses and now I have decayed to teach three students in one course.

However, this is not dissimilar to the schemes instituted by the Government of India wherein one gets paid various amounts of money (sometimes, concurrently) if faculty get fellowships like the Swarnajayanthi, JC Bose etc., or awards like the Bhatnagar or are elected as Fellows of Academies. As Professor Balaram notes in his recent editorial, most of these are given based on promise and patronage rather than performance.

Wouldn't it be better if the rewards are given without personal money but with huge research or teaching grants? This would result in the faculty actually doing science rather than writing proposals to various funding agencies or lobbying to get themselves nominated for these fellowships.


msn said...

what does it really means "Of course, one does not have to worry about this in IISc, where teaching is minimal." ?

I feel teaching in IISc is only for "top" guys and not really stressed on the practical usability of a particular subject...

Giri@iisc said...

Teaching is minimal in the sense that most faculty teach less than one course a year and practically no one teaches more than two courses a year.