Revolution Lullabye

August 27, 2014

Newton, Value-added Modeling of Teacher Effectiveness

Newton, Xiaoxia A, et al. “Value-added Modeling of Teacher Effectiveness: Exploration of Stability across Models and Contexts.” Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 18 (23). 2010. Print.

Newton et al investigate measures of teacher effectiveness based on VAM (value-added modeling) to show that these measures, based on in large part on measured student learning gains, are not stable and can vary significantly across years, classes, and contexts. The study focused on 250 mathematics and ELA teachers and approximately 3500 students they taught at six high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. The researchers argue that measures of teacher effectiveness based solely on student performance scores (those measures that don’t take into account student demographics and other differences) cannot be relied on to get a true understanding of a teacher’s effectiveness because so many other unstable variables impact those student test scores. Models of teacher evaluation that rely heavily on student performance scores can negatively impact teachers who teach in high-need areas. This is especially true with teachers who teach disadvantaged students or students with limited English proficiency.

Quotable Quotes

“Growing interest in tying student learning to educational accountability has stimulated unprecedented efforts to use high-stakes tests in the evaluation of individual teachers and schools. In the current policy climate, pupil learning is increasingly conceptualized as standardized test score gains, and methods to assess teacher effectiveness are increasingly grounded in what is broadly called value-added analysis. The inferences about individual teacher effects many policymakers would like to draw from such value-added analyses rely on very strong and often untestable statistical assumptions about the roles of schools, multiple teachers, student aptitudes and efforts, homes and families in producing measured student learning gains. These inferences also depend on sometimes problematic conceptualizations of learning embodied in assessments used to evaluate gains. Despite the statistical and measurement challenges, value-added models for estimating teacher effects have gained increasing attention among policy makers due to their conceptual and methodological appeal” (3).

Differences in teacher effectiveness in different classes: “An implicit assumption in the value-added literature is that measured teacher effects are stable across courses and time. Previous studies have found that this assumption is not generally met for estimates across different years. There has been less attention to the question of teacher effects across courses. One might expect that teacher effects could vary across courses for any number of reasons. For instance, a mathematics teacher might be better at teaching algebra than geometry, or an English teacher might be better at teaching literature than composition. Teachers may also be differentially adept at teaching new English learners, for example, or 2nd graders rather than 5th graders. It is also possible that, since tracking practices are common, especially at the secondary level, different classes might imply different student compositions, which can impact a teacher’s value-added rankings, as we saw in the previous section.” (12)

“the analyses suggested that teachers’ rankings were higher for courses with “high-track” students than for untracked classes” (13).

“These examples and our general findings highlight the challenge inherent in developing a value-added model that adequately captures teacher effectiveness, when teacher effectiveness itself is a variable with high levels of instability across contexts (i.e., types of courses, types of students, and year) as well as statistical models that make different assumptions about what exogenous influences should be controlled. Further, the contexts associated with instability are themselves highly relevant to the notion of teacher effectiveness” (16).

“The default assumption in the value-added literature is that teacher effects are a fixed construct that is independent of the context of teaching (e.g., types of courses, student demographic compositions in a class, and so on) and stable across time. Our empirical exploration of teacher effectiveness rankings across different courses and years suggested that this assumption is not consistent with reality. In particular, the fact that an individual student’s learning gain is heavily dependent upon who else is in his or her class, apart from the teacher, raises questions about our ability to isolate a teacher’s effect on an individual student’s learning, no matter how sophisticated the statistical model might be” (18).

“Our correlations indicate that even in the most complex models, a substantial portion of the variation in teacher rankings is attributable to selected student characteristics, which is troubling given the momentum gathering around VAM as a policy proposal. Even more troubling is the possibility that policies that rely primarily on student test score gains to evaluate teachers – especially when student characteristics are not taken into account at all (as in some widely used models) — could create disincentives for teachers to want to work with those students with the greatest needs” (18).

“Our conclusion is NOT that teachers do not matter. Rather, our findings suggest that we simply cannot measure precisely how much individual teachers contribute to student learning, given the other factors involved in the learning process, the current limitations of tests and methods, and the current state of our educational system” (20). 

Notable Notes

The problem of variables impacting the calculation of teacher effectiveness: the students’ background (socioeconomic, cultural, disability, language diversity), the effects of the school environment, how teachers perform year-to-year, the curriculum

VAM makes assumptions that schools, teachers, students, parents, curriculum, class sizes, school resources, and communities are similar.

The variables the researchers collected and measured included CST math or ELA scaled test scores, students’ prior test scores for both average and accelerated students, students’ race/ethnicity, gender, and ELL status, students’ parents’ educational level and participation in free or reduced school lunch, and individual school differences. Tries to look at the issue longitudinally by looking at student prior achievement (7). They were able to link students to teachers (8).

Darling-Hammond, Creating a Comprehensive System for Evaluating and Supporting Effective Teaching

Darling-Hammond, Linda. Creating a Comprehensive System for Evaluating and Supporting Effective Teaching. Stanford, CA: Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. 2012. Print.

This report argues for the development of an aligned, comprehensive K-12 teacher evaluation system that supports students, teachers, curriculum, schools, and communities by being an integral part of a larger teaching and learning system. The report outlines seven “best practices” for creating teacher evaluation systems. Teacher evaluation systems, the report argued, should serve teachers at all stages of their careers and be used for critical decisions at the licensing, hiring, and granting tenure/merit stages. Teacher evaluation systems need to be directly connected to ongoing teacher professional development and encourage collaboration among teachers, not competition. The report makes a distinction between “teacher quality” and “teaching quality,” arguing that helping teachers improve their teaching practices across different kinds of students, contexts, and curriculum will result in better teaching and better student learning. The report includes examples of district and state evaluation systems and procedures that it believes serves as models and starting points for creating a comprehensive teacher evaluation system.

 

Quotable Quotes

“Today, much attention is focused on identifying and removing poor teachers. But what we really need is a conception of teacher evaluation as part of a teaching and learning system that supports continuous improvement, both for individual teachers and for the profession as a whole. Such a system should enhance teacher learning and skill, while at the same time ensuring that teachers who are retained and tenured can effectively support student learning throughout their careers” (1-2)

The problem: “Virtually everyone agrees that teacher evaluation in the United States needs an overhaul. Existing systems rarely help teachers improve or clearly distinguish those who are succeeding from those who are struggling. The tools that are used do not always represent the important features of good teaching. Criteria and methods for evaluating teachers vary substantially across districts and at key career milestones—when teachers complete pre-service teacher education, become initially licensed, are considered for tenure, and receive a professional license.

A comprehensive system should address these purposes in a coherent way and provide support for supervision and professional learning, identify teachers who need additional assistance and—in some cases—a change of career, and recognize expert teachers who can contribute to the learning of their peers.” (i)

Distinction between teacher quality and teaching quality: “Teacher quality might be thought of as the bundle of personal traits, skills, and understandings an individual brings to teaching, including dispositions to behave in certain ways. Teaching quality refers to strong instruction that enables a wide range of students to learn. Teaching quality is in part a function of teacher quality— teachers’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions—but it is also strongly influenced by the context of instruction: the curriculum and assessment system; the “fit” between teachers’ qualifications and what they are asked to teach; and teaching conditions, such as time, class size, facilities, and materials. If teaching is to be effective, policymakers must address the teaching and learning environment as well as the capacity of individual teachers” (i).

Five elements to this teacher evaluation system, as part of a larger teaching and learning system:

  1. “Common statewide standards for teaching that are related to meaningful student learning and are shared across the profession.” These should help direct the preparation of teachers and ongoing professional development (i)
  2. “Performance assessments, based on statewide standards, guiding state function such as teacher preparation, licensure, and advanced certification” – there should be multiple assessments for different points in the profession (initial, mid, advanced) that look at how well teachers can “plan, teach, and assess learning” (ii)
  3. “Local evaluation systems aligned to the same standards, which asses on-the-job teaching based on multiple measures of teaching practice and student learning.” – things like observations, teaching artifacts like lessons plans/assignments, “evidence” of how teachers contribute to their colleagues’ work and student learning (ii) (example on page 11)
  4. “Support structures to ensure trained evaluators, mentoring for teachers who need additional assistance, and fair decisions about personnel actions” – including access to master teacher mentors, fair “governance structures,” and continued resources to maintain the system (ii)
  5. “Aligned professional learning opportunities that support the improvement of teachers and teaching quality” – all kinds of professional development (formal, embedded) that “trigger continuous goal-setting” and “opportunities to share expertise” (ii)

 “To transform systems, incentives should be structured to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing, rather than competition, across organizations” (ii)

“Criteria for an Effective Teacher Evaluation System

“In conclusion, research on successful approaches to teacher evaluation suggests that:

  1. “Teacher evaluation should be based on professional teaching standards and should be sophisticated enough to assess teaching quality across the continuum of development from novice to expert teacher.
  2. “Evaluations should include multi-faceted evidence of teacher practice, student learning, and professional contributions that are considered in an integrated fashion, in relation to one another and to the teaching context. Any assessments used to make judgments about students’ progress should be appropriate for the specific curriculum and students the teacher teaches.
  3. “Evaluators should be knowledgeable about instruction and well trained in the evaluation system, including the process of how to give productive feedback and how to support ongoing learning for teachers. As often as possible, and always at critical decision-making junctures (e.g., tenure or renew- al), the evaluation team should include experts in the specific teaching field.
  4. “Evaluation should be accompanied by useful feedback, and connected to professional development opportunities that are relevant to teachers’ goals and needs, including both formal learning opportunities and peer collaboration, observation, and coaching.
  5. “The evaluation system should value and encourage teacher collaboration, both in the standards and criteria that are used to assess teachers’ work, and in the way results are used to shape professional learning opportunities.
  6. “Expert teachers should be part of the assistance and review process for new teachers and for teachers needing extra assistance. They can provide the additional subject-specific expertise and person-power needed to ensure that intensive and effective assistance is offered and that decisions about tenure and continuation are well grounded.
  7. “Panels of teachers and administrators should oversee the evaluation process to ensure that it is thorough and of high quality, as well as fair and reliable. Such panels have been shown to facilitate more timely and well- grounded personnel decisions that avoid grievances and litigation. Teachers and school leaders should be involved in developing, implementing, and monitoring the system to ensure that it reflects good teaching well, that it operates effectively, that it is tied to useful learning opportunities for teachers, and that it produces valid results.

“Initiatives to measure and improve teaching effectiveness will have the greatest payoff if they stimulate practices known to support student learning and are embedded in systems that also develop greater teaching competence. In this way, policies that create increasingly valid measures of teaching effectiveness—and that create innovative systems for recognizing, developing and utilizing expert teachers—can ultimately help to create a more effective teaching profession” (iii-iv).

 

“Good systems must be designed so that teachers are not penalized for teaching the students who have the greatest educational needs. Rather, they should explicitly seek to provide incentives that recognize and reward teachers who work with challenging students” (24)

Notable Notes 

Need to create a system for evaluating teachers (and developing teaching) that takes into account all the stakeholders at local/state/national levels as well as the curriculum and standards.

The problem with relying on student performance scores to evaluate teaching: a teachers’ scores vary considerably from class-to-class and year-to-year, are affected by and tied directly to the type of students in the classroom (student differences), and the scores themselves are flattened – it’s impossible to discern what exactly impacted student learning: the teacher, the curriculum, the school environment, the home environment? (iii)

Student learning scores can be used in determining teacher effectiveness, but they can’t be the sole indicator and if used, they must be “appropriate for the curriculum and the students being taught” (iii)

Good graphic for representing the three tiers of a teacher career (and the argument to assess and evaluate teachers along these three tiers): initial, professional licensure, experienced/master teacher (7) and an example of New Mexico’s standards-based teacher evaluation system that evaluates teachers at these three tiers (8-9)

discussion of peer-based review of teachers, examples of systems using peer review (28-35)

August 25, 2014

NCTE Position Statement on Teacher Evaluation

NCTE Position Statement on Teacher Evaluation. National Council of Teachers of English. 21 April 2012. Web. 25 August 2014.

This 2012 position statement on K-12 evaluation argues that teacher evaluation is important and necessary way to improve schools, teachers, and student learning. NCTE bases this position statement on the belief that teaching is a complex process that must take into account the socioeconomic, political, cultural, and linguistic contexts of the students teachers teach and the schools and communities that they teach in. The position statement explains that the conversation surrounding teacher evaluation falls into two areas, distinguished by the end purpose of the teacher evaluation. The first purpose is “Test-Based Accountability,” which NCTE defines as using standardized student test scores to rank teachers and identify (and remove) ineffective teachers solely through student test score performance. The second purpose is “Professional-Development-Based Accountability,” which NCTE defines as using teacher evaluation as a way to promote ongoing teacher professional development. Ongoing teacher professional development helps teachers be better by allowing them to continually learn more about their subject matter, pedagogical methods, and their students. This position statement warns that an overreliance on this first kind of teacher evaluation – one based on student test scores – will take the craft out of teaching, resulting in cookie-cutter approaches to student learning and a curriculum focused on testing. The position statement also outlines principles for creating fair and effective evaluations for English Language Arts teachers.

 

Quotable Quotes

Epigraph: “For more than two decades, policymakers have undertaken many and varied reforms to improve schools, ranging from new standards and tests to redesigned schools, new curricula and new governance models. One important lesson from these efforts is the repeated finding that teachers are the fulcrum determining whether any school initiative tips toward success or failure. Every aspect of school reform depends on highly skilled teachers for its success.” – Linda Darling-Hammond, 2010

“NCTE recognizes that quality assurance is an important responsibility of school leaders and accepts that a successful evaluation system must assist school leaders in making major personnel decisions such as retention, tenure, and dismissal. Still, it firmly believes that an overemphasis on accountability rooted in testing sets the bar much too low for school improvement and leads to a curriculum too heavily devoted to test preparation.”

NCTE believes that multifaceted teacher evaluation is a significant component for student, teacher, and school improvement and advocates strongly for a system that emphasizes professional growth. English teachers must continually study their subject along with the craft of teaching in their efforts to make learning happen.”

“Student test scores are unreliable indicators of teacher performance and should play a very small role in evaluation.”

 

Notable Notes

Principles for creating teacher evaluation systems for ELA teachers:

  1. “based on a comprehensive review of effective teaching behaviors”
  2. “relies on a wide range of evidence”
  3. “aligns quality assurance purposes to professional growth”
  4. “is fair and nonthreatening”

Popham, Tough Teacher Evaluation and Formative Assessment

Popham, W. James. “Tough Teacher Evaluation and Formative Assessment: Oil and Water?” Voices from the Middle 21.2 (December 2013): 10-14. Print.

Popham argues that teachers who commit to using formative assessment techniques in their classroom will have better student performance on the new Common Core student assessments, and therefore these teachers, whose evaluations increasingly depend on student performance on high-stakes assessments, will have better evaluations. Popham explains that although the high-stakes state and federal assessments seem to only value summative assessments, students and teachers who regularly do formative assessment do better on these tests. Popham’s article shows how federal policies, such as the 2009 “Race to the Top” initiative and the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, not only change curriculum and testing but also change teacher evaluation. He explains how teacher evaluation criteria vary considerably from state to state and district to district. Althoguh there is great diversity in the measures and the relative weight of those measures used, Popham insists student performance scores on high-stakes assessments are going to continue being one of the most significant factors used to evaluate teacher performance and effectiveness.

Quotable Quotes

“In short, because students’ achievement will play such a prominent role in almost all states’ teacher-evaluation procedures, and because teachers who employ the formative-assessment process will almost always engender improved achievement in their students, this is precisely the moment when sensible teachers should learn to employ the formative-assessment process. The higher the stakes associated with a given teacher-evaluation system, the greater should be a teacher’s interest in becoming a skilled user of formative assessment. This is a classic “win-win” situation” (14).

Notable Notes

explains formative assessment – not a particular kind of assessment, but a process of using a few or occassional “checks” to determine how well students are learning and to adapt instruction based on that feedback. Describes it as a “means-ends approach” (11)

Analysis of the teacher-evaluation system: is it that simple, really?

March 6, 2014

Mayher, English Teacher Education as Literacy Teacher Education

Mayher, John S. “English Teacher Education as Literacy Teacher Education.” English Education 44.2 (January 2012): 180-187.

Mayher calls for English education programs to form alliances with colleagues and departments across their campuses in order to restructure English teacher education as literacy teacher education. Mayher argues that integration is necessary and overdue, especially in the context of the Common Core State Standards, which emphasize literacy education across the curriculum. Mayher points out that English education programs that focus primarily on literature are not preparing their students to teach all the students they will encounter in the 21st century American school system. Mayher calls on national organizations like CEE and NCTE to take the lead in conversations about literacy education, and part of taking this lead, he contends, is re-examining the assumptions that form our English teacher education programs.

Notable Notes

Mayher notes that there are at least four discrete teacher education disciplines that prepare students to teach literacy: secondary English education, early childhood/childhood education, TESOL, and special education. Added to that is the emergence of literacy education (K-12) programs (182).

the problem with specialization within national organizations – we’ve become fragmented, have different cultures, but we need to move beyond these cultural boundaries to work together to prepare teachers to meet the challenges of the modern American school system and CCSS. (184)

need to support beginning teachers after they graduate from teacher education programs – they still are not expert teachers and need ongoing mentoring and support. Teacher education programs need to reach out to the schools their students are placed in and give them more hands-on practice in how to teach – focus on “the transition to teaching” (186).

CCSS asks teachers from all subject areas to focus on literacy across the curriculum, something English teacher education programs should prepare their student to work towards in their schools (183).

English teacher education programs need “to be inclusive and therefore more than the traditional literature-centered subject English” (182).

The lit-centered English teacher education curriculum doesn’t prepare teachers to help students who are not proficient in the literacy skills they needed to master in the early grades (183).

Quotable Quotes

“The need for integration stems from the need to better serve the pupils our students will teach and to better prepare our students to do so” (182).

“Whatever one thinks of the ways being attempted to change schools, the fact is that the problems are real and we must play a central role in helping to solve them” (180).

“So if we are serious about building a teacher education culture that is responsive to the complex, interconnected, and integrated demands of K-12 teaching, we have to find ways to open up our curricular boxes and reconceive them across all the sub-specialties that touch on literacy education” (184).

“The common denominator here must be literacy teacher education for K-12 schools” (185).
“The Common Core, the NAEP, NCLB, and the state standards as well all recognize the centrality of literacy to the educational enterprise. What we must do is move into that center and claim the pedagogical high ground. Let’s change our name, our stance, and our capacity to collaborate with those who are also trying to help the children we serve. The time is now” (187).

November 5, 2013

Dixon and Westbrook, Followers Revealed

Dixon, Gene and Jerry Westbrook. “Followers Revealed.” Engineering Management Journal 15.1 (March 2003): 19-25.

The authors argue that employees at higher levels of organizational management (executives) have stronger followership characteristics than employees at the mid-manager level and operational level. Their argument is based on their survey of nearly 300 employees from all organizational levels who work at 17 different engineering and technology firms. Dixon and Westbrook used Chaleff’s theory of courageous followership (1995) and his five followership attributes to frame and design their study. They argue that their finding shows that the most successful leaders know how to be good followers, and they introduce the idea of the leader-follower concept – that employees are neither just leaders nor followers but can switch between the roles as appropriate.

Notable Notes

Always more followers than leaders – always more to the conversation than your own argument

Followers work with leaders to produce knowledge and find meaning

Argues that managers need to cultivate followership attributes in their organizations, give strategies for doing so

References a change in 21st work – less employee/employer attachment, desire of managers to reduce overhead. Employees are different and are motivated differently in today’s global workplace.

Chaleff’s five behaviors of courageous followership: courage to assume responsibility, to serve, to challenge, to participate in transformation, and to leave/take moral action. These behaviors drive action in a successful organization.

Quotable Quotes

“But preoccupation with leadership hinders considering the nature and importance of the follower and the interrelationship and interdependence required between leaders and followers” (20).

“Being a follower is a condition, not a position” (20).

 

Cox, Plagens, and Sylla, The Leadership-Followership Dynamic

Cox, Raymond W. III, Gregory K. Plagens, and Keba Sylla. “The Leadership-Followership Dynamic: Making the Choice to Follow.” The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences 5.8 (2010): 37-51. Print.

The authors give a framework for a follower-centric definition of leadership, putting the focus on the followers, not the leaders. They argue that it is followers, not leaders, who determine an organization’s success, and in order for an organization to be effective, both leaders and followers need to trust one another and understand each other’s roles. Following and followership are not the same – following can be passive, but followership is an active choice. The authors draw on leadership studies in history, psychology, management, political science, business administration, and public administration and present an in-depth overview of leadership and followership theories from the early twentieth century onward.

Notable Notes

Leaders have to solve problems, so one of their jobs is to recruit problem solvers (46). – leaders have to find someone to follow them (47)

James MacGregor Burns (1978) – argued for two kinds of leadership: transactional v. transformative. Their definition of a follower-centric idea of leadership depends on Burns’ scholarship and definitions

Challenges the notion that leaders alone can make an organization better (38) – acknowledges that there has been a shift from transactional leadership to transformational leadership (38)

Defines leadership, followership, leading, following

Gives a detailed overview of the history of leadership theory – the evolution, corrections, recorrections: leadership as command, cooperative leadership, leadership of groups, the psychology of leadership, organizational leadership, the new public management, the leadership-followership dynamic

Leadership-followership dynamic: cites early and mid-20th century theorists that were interested in worker motivation and their affinity to the organization, the human/follower component to leadership. Leadership requires legitimacy (ethos) (44)

Quotable Quotes

“followership is an a priori choice (self-conscious) of the individual in the context of his or her relationship to the nominal leader” (48) – followership is not compelled by rank or hierarchy; following is (48).

“Leadership means understanding how to promote excellence and protect values in the workplace. This collaboration requires changes in the assumptions about leadership and its definition. Leadership emerges through a stance of flexibility and adaptability, trust from the followers, and accommodation to inevitable change. This creates a partnership instead of a hierarchal relationship” (43).

“In summary, leaders and followers both must have the ability to interchange their role. Meaning that the leader must be decisive and desirous of becoming the follower, and the follower must be capable as well as desirous of leading. In addition, leadership is not only a behavioral attitude but it also includes ethics and intention” (45).

“The follower is no longer a mere subordinate who accepts and obeys the dictates of the leader. The leader or leadership also is transformed due to the complexity and the necessity of collaboration. Understanding each other’s role and values is essential in this transformation of the traditional view in organizations” (47).

 

October 28, 2013

Blachard, et al, Followership Styles and Employee Attachment to the Organization

Blachard, Anita L., Jennifer Welbourne, David Gilmore, and Angela Bullock. “Followership Styles and Employee Attachment to the Organization.” The Psychologist-Manager Journal 12 (2009); 111-131. Print.

The authors, interested in the relationship between two followership behaviors identified in Robert Kelley’s 1992 study on followership, argue that strong followership behaviors do not necessarily correlate with positive job satisfaction or organizational attachment.

Through a survey of 331 faculty members at a R1 institution, the researchers investigated the attitudes and behaviors associated with two components of followership: independent critical thinking and active engagement. They found that employees with high levels of active engagement (those with a sense of ownership and responsibility, who take initiative and do high-quality work) generally have high levels of both extrinsic and intrinsic job satisfaction as well as affective and normative organization attachment. However, those employees with high levels of independent critical thinking often have low levels of extrinsic job satisfaction and normative organizational attachment (feelings of obligation toward their employer) because, as the authors state, these “critical thinkers, through the process of
questioning and evaluating information at work, may ultimately become more
aware of the negative aspects of their jobs” (126). The authors warn managers that independent critical thinking – behaviors and attitudes associated with analyzing situations, considering alternatives, critquing, and making evaluations – may not be a desired trait, especially among those employees who have low levels of organizational attachment. The authors suggest to managers that to offset the potential negative effects of independent critical thinking, they should help cultivate high levels of active engagement among their employees.

Notable Notes

testing the validity of Kelley’s followership traits – are they all positive?

relies on organizational behavior theories

Quotable Quotes

“Our results indicate that independent critical thinking can be a double-edged sword” for managers (127)

critical thinking skills – “These highly desirable skills” may be “detrimental to the organization and their employees” (128).

critical thinking – analyze situations, consider alternatives, evaluate and make judgments, give constructive criticism, think for themselves, approach problems creatively (112)

October 25, 2013

Artze-Vega et al, Privilgeing Pedagogy

Artze-Vega, Isis, et al. “Privileging Pedagogy: Composition, Rhetoric, and Faculty Development.” College Composition and Communication 65:1 (September 2013): 162-184.

This article, written by seven scholars who work in the “border” between comp/rhet and faculty development, demonstrates the connections between comp/rhet scholarship and faculty development work and argues for more collaboration between these two fields. The authors define faculty development as a “transdisciplinary site,” (166) list the ways comp/rhet theory and work prepares scholars for faculty development work, explain how faculty development research has informed their own teaching and scholarship, and argue for greater emphasis on faculty development theory and training in comp/rhet graduate programs. Their article includes an annotated bibliography for faculty development scholarship.

The essay makes a case for the political importance of comp/rhet scholars taking on faculty development roles: these administrative positions give comp/rhet scholars the opportunity to affect change on the institution and influence higher education in directions that could privilege teaching and learning.

Notable Notes

How comp/rhet scholarship and training prepares people to take on faculty development positions:

  • “established focus on pedagogy and the trend toward preparation for administrative duties” (166)
  • valuing of teaching and learning
  • insights into how students learn that can be applied across contexts and disciplines
  • good writers/rhetoricians, can prepare professional reports, materials, etc
  • understand that all learning, writing is rhetorically situated
  • interest in how people learn
  • WPA work is oriented to teaching/educating, not just managing
  • work often with instructional technology and digital media
  • familiar with networking through WAC, WID, writing centers

How faculty development scholarship can impact writing education

  • research on student motivation
  • research on student development, especially young adult/adult education
  • research on the impact of the holistic student experience on student performance in individual courses

how a faculty developer can be an “intellectual bureaucrat” (Richard E. Miller, 1998) – make change at higher institutional levels (171), opportunity to be a campus leader.

Problems with the faculty developer position – sometimes seen as an inferior scholar, funding issues (necessary to build strong relationships and connections across campus) (176-177)

Possibilities for graduate education: courses dedicated to faculty development, include faculty development as a possible career path and area of scholarly inquiry, internships in CTL (centers for teaching and learning) or other faculty development positions (training TAs, WAC and WID work, etc.)

Quotable Quotes

“Success in faculty development begins with admitting that we have more questions than answers and with accepting the challenge of continually revising our teaching and reassessing our learning” (177).

“These courses [in composition theory and pedagogy], we feel, could benefit from a closer alignment with insights developed in the field of faculty development: principles of learning from a general perspective, explicit discussion of institutional politics beyond the writing program, inclusion of models for leading and adapting to change within institutions, and broad exploration of curriculum design and assessment. Such training will prepare students to be effective participants in a wide range of institutional and department cultures as well as potentially providing them with access to an alternative (and greatly satisfying) career path” (176).

“Both groups [faculty developers and comp/rhet scholars] believe that continued professional learning is a desirable professional norm” (174).

“We [WPAs} know that teaching and learning are not the same thing, and this insight is central to faculty development work” (168).

“In order to be effective, professional development needs to be sustained not only over the course of a year but over the course of a career” (168).

 

October 24, 2013

Gilbert, The Problem That (Still?) Has No Name

Gilbert, Sandra M. “The Problem That (Still?) Has No Name: Our Brilliant Careers in a World without Work.” College English 76.1 (September 2013): 29-34.

Gilbert comments on Susan Gubar’s essay “Our Brilliant Career: Women in English, 1973-2010,” which is published in the same September 2013 issue of College English. Gilbert and Gubar met as young assistant professors in the English Department at Indiana University and collaborated throughout their careers. In her essay, Gilbert asks whether the present reality of women in the humanities and women in society more broadly measures up to the expectations and hopes of the generations of women who worked to disrupt patriciarchal structures and assumptions and give women opportunities in the workplace, in politics, in business, and in higher education. She questions whether women can “have it all” and names some of the new problems facing women and specifically women in the humanities: eroding departments and support for research; attrition of women on the tenure-track; the feminization of the humanities.

Notable Notes

draws on personal experiences and her own history like Gubar – she was in the first wave of women academics, encouraged by early feminists (Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, Kate Millett)

the excitement – bliss – expectations of the early years of the 2nd wave of feminism contrasted with the realities faced today, struggles & challenges that weren’t anticipated

“diminished things” (32)

Quotable Quotes

Getting and keeping a tenure-track job in the 1970s, 1980s: “Yet there [Indiana University], as almost everywhere, the attrition rate of tenure-track women who didn’t make it through complicated professional hoops or had to move (as I did) for personal reasons was high” (31).

About traveling to conferences, giving talks with Gubar around the country and leaving behind children/husbands: “But the pangs of separation often seemed worth it: I used to carry a picture of the Cabinet around with me – a bunch of dark suits circling a long table, backed up by a woman carrying a coffee pot. When I asked myself why am I on this airplane? I took out the picture and told myself, that’s why” (31).

“Still, change is slow; it comes in increments, as wise voices tell us. Our country has a (male) African American president, and we women are now professors, doctors, lawyers in numbers that would have astounded Virginia Woolf. We are Supreme Court judges, we are corporation presidents – and we are a majority of graduate students in English departments. Wasn’t it worth the wait? For here it is, the world we struggled for. But sadly, as Susan so incisively laments, the humanities we sought to change have become ‘a diminished thing.’ In fact, more than a few of the other workplaces to which English PhDs might have aspired – libraries, research foundations, museums, nonprofits – have become diminished things” (32).

“Yet still: still, as I look around me, brooding on the hopes of my children and their children, my students and their students, I can’t help thinking, ‘Never such innocence,’ to quote Philip Larkin in an even more dreadful manner” (33).

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