Thursday, August 24, 2017

UK: The old teaching versus research controversy

"Some [universities] even threatened researchers who failed to publish with extra teaching, and rewarded those who published particularly significant research work with less teaching."

Seems reasonable to me.  Researchers are also expected to teach, though not usually the basics.  Their research activity keeps them at the cutting edge in their field and that is normally used  to keep the students up to date too

New research carried out by John McCormack, lecturer in management at Cranfield University, has found that university teaching staff resent the way they are made to feel second-class citizens, inferior to researchers. With Matthew Bamber, of the University of Toronto, and Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson, of the University of Lincoln, McCormack interviewed 51 teaching staff at 20 research-intensive universities in Britain. Many reported feeling “locked in” by structural and social barriers they felt were insurmountable, and unable to become “proper academics”.

In the latest in a series on the UK’s increasingly precarious world of work, we reveal how many institutions are charging higher student fees while more than half of lecturers are on non-permanent or hourly-paid contracts

Zero hours contracts, pay below the minimum wage (once the time spent marking and preparation is included), and contracts that exclude the summer, are common among a workforce expected to meet ever greater demands from students seeking value for money as fees increase. The spotlight on vice-chancellors’ enormous pay, when many academics struggle with their bills, has added to the outrage felt by many university teachers.

Last month an open letter calling for an end to the proliferation of short-term teaching contracts in UK humanities departments gathered more than 1,600 signatures from lecturers in five days.

Around a quarter of academic staff in the Russell Group of research-intensive universities are categorised as teaching-only – fewer than across the sector as a whole, but the number is growing. This is partly as a result of the government’s new teaching excellence framework (Tef), which aims to help redress the balance between research and teaching. Results of the framework, published in June, show only eight of the 24-strong Russell Group gained the highest rating – gold – in the Tef; the London School of Economics, the top university in Britain based on the proportion of world-leading research produced, was one of three Russell Group members awarded the lowest ranking, bronze.

While many university teachers welcome the recognition the Tef is intended to give their profession, they dislike the metrics on which it is based: it relies on the national student survey – a questionnaire filled in by students about their university experience – and statistics about graduate employment, which they argue gives little idea of what goes on in the lecture or seminar room.

Some are also concerned it will make their job harder. “We will be little hamsters running on a wheel trying to check off the Tef rather than being innovative teachers,” says one. “It changes the relationship you have with students.”

Gervas Huxley, a teaching fellow in the economics department at Bristol University, and once described as one of universities’ minister Jo Johnson’s Numskulls (the Numskulls was a Beano comic strip about a team of tiny technicians who lived inside people’s heads and ran their minds), says challenging the dominance of research over teaching is overdue. But while he supports the principle behind the Tef, he is not convinced it will change things.

He argues that in research universities, an unsuccessful researcher in their early fifties would usually be in a more senior position – and earning more – than a successful teacher. “I would never argue that the most successful academics don’t merit the rewards they get,” he says. “But most academics aren’t superstars and many aren’t producing research that’s particularly original, and yet they have higher rewards than we do.”

He blames the traditional idea that teaching should be led by research. “The problem with research-led teaching is a lot of researchers aren’t good at it, and even if they are, they don’t have time.” He says that as a result, students receive minimal contact time in large groups.

Huxley would like to see the Tef incorporate a measure for class sizes and contact hours. “I think the Russell Group have benefited from higher tuition fees but have not delivered their side of the bargain,” he says. “British universities are among the best funded in the world at a time of unparalleled austerity.”

Others argue that the tradition of research-led teaching means that teaching-only staff are expected to keep up with the latest developments in their subject while dealing with a full teaching timetable and all the pastoral care that goes with it.

Jonathan White, bargaining policy and negotiations officer at the University and College Union, says: “It’s not just they cannot progress or move over from teaching-only to the traditional academic pathway, it’s that they aren’t given time to do the job properly.”

He also questions why, if universities claim to value teaching, most teaching-only staff are on short-term contracts, when that is not true of traditional teaching and research roles.

One teacher at a Russell Group university, who is waiting to see whether her contract will be renewed next year, says she ends up doing research in her spare time in the hope of producing enough publications to secure a full academic job. “I’m really concerned about getting stuck in this kind of work because I don’t think there is very far I can progress,” she says.

Stefania Paredes Fuentes, a senior teaching fellow in economics at the University of Warwick, says that while she now has a permanent full-time contract and a senior position, this is unusual and she is sympathetic to younger staff trying to get a mortgage on rolling one-year contracts. “You get recognition and everything else because of research,” she says. “Research is considered to bring money and prestige and it has created a huge bias in universities, and in some more than others.”

McCormack says: “If you are recognised as a brilliant teacher there is no money in it for the university. The difference between someone who gets very good student feedback as a teacher and someone who gets mediocre feedback isn’t very big.”

His study found that many research-intensive universities offloaded heavy teaching allocations to teaching-only staff to give researchers more time to publish. Some even threatened researchers who failed to publish with extra teaching, and rewarded those who published particularly significant research work with less teaching.

A Russell Group spokesman says its members are independent when it comes to staffing matters but all consider quality teaching a core element of the student experience. “Our universities have always made teaching a priority,” he says. “Our universities are keen to recognise and reward skilled teachers through education-led routes to promotion and teaching awards.”


The Re-Education of America

There is a Cultural Revolution taking place in America today. The stated goal: to purge capitalism and traditional American culture from society. Leftist educational curricula in schools and anti-establishment messaging via television programming (all streaming devices) deliver the dogmatic ideology of the revolution.

The Leftist re-education programming begins long before college. Pre-school educational programs with fanciful characters and talking animals are not benign. Sesame Street creatures are not advocating individual growth, independence, critical thinking skills, excellence, and the merit system which support capitalism and democracy. They are advocating group-think, dependence, passivity, mediocrity, and collectivism which prepare your children for socialism. Students already indoctrinated toward collectivism enter the university re-education programs passive, unaware, and compliant. The re-education curriculum at the university reinforces their passivity and students graduate uninformed, disinformed, and misinformed with degrees in the orthodoxy of liberalism that is tyrannical in its demand for conformity.

The graduates are now credentialed “authorities” in the social sciences who become zealous members of the Leftist echo chamber that reinforces collectivism and dominates television. The left-wing liberal narrative of political correctness, moral relativism, and historical revisionism is reflected in the programming and commercials being streamed into your household and mobile devices twenty-four hours a day. Television programming and television advertising are in the business of social engineering. They are purging capitalism and traditional culture from American society. They are selling socialism.

Their sales strategy pits subjective reality against objective reality. This is how it works.

The Leftist re-education programming presents subjective reality in televised commercials. In the real world of objective reality most families are not intermarried and every play group, luncheon, dinner table, and family picnic does not have one Asian, one white person, one black person, and one Hispanic in attendance. In the real world most couples are not homosexual, white men and women are not all idiots, and black men and women are not all judges, doctors, and lawyers. Why does television programming and commercials portray contrived fabricated scenes and plots of subjective reality instead of factual scenes and plots of objective reality to sell their products? Because they are not selling products they are re-educating America.

The radical left-wing agenda is selling socialism. They are re-educating America on television just like the schools are re-educating America in the classroom. The unreal subjective reality of the programming is intentionally confusing and creates cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the destabilizing state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially relating to behavioral decisions and attitude changes. Cognitive dissonance creates extreme stress because people seek psychological stability and consistency. The contradictory images being televised do not comport with objective reality so they threaten and destabilize the viewer’s sense of what is real. Cognitive dissonance is the psychological equivalent of physical pain – people will do anything to stop it.

Democracy lives in the adult world of objective reality and facts. It embraces diversity that includes differences of opinion, protects freedom of speech, and insists upon individual personal responsibility. Socialism lives in the childish world of make-believe, subjective reality, diversity that excludes differences of opinion, restricts freedom speech, and rejects personal responsibility. The Left seeks to destroy objective reality and create social chaos. WHY?

Social chaos is the prerequisite for seismic social change and the Leftists seek to destroy American democracy and replace it with socialism. How does it work?

The medium is the message. In 1964 Marshall McLuhan explained that the medium is separate from the message and has a separate social effect upon the recipient. Television is the greatest vehicle for social engineering and mass psychological indoctrination ever invented. The images on the screen become familiar and familiarity brings acceptance. The separate social effect of television (including any screening device) is that the images are accepted as reality. For children talking animals and cartoon characters acquire authority. For older kids, adolescents, and adults the characters in the plots become reality and their fictitious lives no matter how anti-establishment become normative and acceptable. The breakdown of rules, restrictions, and cultural norms appears progressive to an adolescent but is in fact extremely regressive to an adult.

The anti-establishment strategy is to present television commercials and programming that attack established cultural norms of American family, religion, and government with destabilizing images and messages creating cognitive dissonance. By destroying the three pillars of society the Left hopes to advance its agenda of socialism. The Left advertises socialism as the structure that will provide social justice, income equality, and escape from cognitive dissonance. Socialism is advertised as the stabilizing equalizing answer to your problems. Anyone who watches television commercials knows that there is little truth in advertising. Wiping a rag across the shower door does not remove the soap scum.

The truth about Leftist diversity is that it only includes people who LOOK different not people who THINK differently. There are no conservatives invited to the luncheon or sitting at the picnic table. There is no diversity of thought. American democracy is founded on principles of equality, freedom of speech (thought), and individual rights. Socialism is collectivism and values the group over the individual. There is no social justice or income equality in socialism. In the long run socialism never works because as Margaret Thatcher said, “Eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

The re-educated students and television “authorities” indoctrinating America toward collectivism should go back to school and take an actual history lesson. They should read about Che Guevara and how he helped free Cubans from the Batista regime but then enslaved them under the Castro regime. Maybe they will think twice about wearing their Che t-shirts. There is no income equality in socialism – the Castro brothers lived in splendor and the Cuban people still live in poverty. The self-righteous re-educated students should read that socialism is a stepping stone toward globalized one-world government. One-world government is the goal and underlying motive of the elite globalists who are financing the Cultural Revolution in America and fomenting the anti-establishment campaign to re-educate America.

The enthusiastic left-wing liberal lemmings committed to the re-education campaign are too arrogant to understand that they are being used as useful idiots by the globalist elite who have a different end game of their own.

Socialism with its complete government control is the prerequisite social structure for the globalist elite to internationalize sovereign countries, globalize the police force, and impose one-world government upon the world population. One-world government is the new world order that the globalist elite intend to rule themselves. It is unapologetically described in chilling detail by aristocrat Lord Bertrand Russell in his book “The Impact of Science on Society” written 65 years ago. One-world government is a binary socio-political system of masters and slaves. There is no social justice in one-world government, there is no income equality in one-world government, there are no Leftists, environmentalists, humanitarian hucksters, bullying prevention, diversity, contrived television commercials, or political agitators of any kind in one-world government – only a passive, compliant population of slaves ruled by their globalist elite masters.

President Donald Trump was elected because he believes in America first, American democracy, American sovereignty, rejects socialism, rejects globalism, and demands to live in the adult world of objective reality. President Trump’s insistence upon objective reality has made him the existential enemy of the regressive Left who require subjective reality to sell socialism. President Trump’s insistence upon American sovereignty has also made him the existential enemy of the corrupt establishment politicians and greedy never-Trumpers who require subjective reality to sell globalism. Re-education is the strategy that replaces objective reality with subjective reality to sell socialism and globalism to America. Re-education is the medium for the Cultural Revolution.


Want to get into your first-choice college? Better book a plane ticket

On university campuses, a summer tradition has unfolded: High school juniors and their parents are inspecting dormitories, checking out libraries, and visiting classrooms as part of the college tour.

Such visits have become increasingly mandatory for students looking for an edge in the highly competitive admissions process. As colleges try to winnow large application pools, many use a student’s interest in the school as an important factor in admissions.

But the practice has some counselors and researchers worried that low-income students who can’t afford to travel or those who aren’t savvy about the importance of the college tour may lose out.

“It’s a phenomenon everybody has to take into account,” said David Hawkins, executive director for education content and policy at the National Association for College Admission Counseling. But for “students who don’t have the means, it raises the bar for them one more time.”

Many colleges now rank a student’s demonstrated interest — through campus visits, e-mails, and outreach to admissions officials and professors — as a crucial factor in deciding whether a student receives an acceptance letter. In some cases, it is as important as the application essay, having a parent who attended the college, or being the first in a family to go to college.

Colleges say that technology enables students to send a standardized application to multiple institutions, making it difficult for admissions officers to discern whether the high school senior really wants to go there or if the school is a back-up.

Colleges are also ranked in publications by the number of applicants who are accepted and then enroll. Therefore, many want to make sure that the applicants who get acceptance letters have a high probability of enrolling.

As a result, many universities track who visits, who calls, and who returns e-mail inquiries in an effort to ensure that students who apply really want to attend and will show up on the first day of classes.

Recent research by economists at Lehigh University and Mathematica Policy Research suggests that the more money students spend on showing their interest, the more likely they are to be admitted into the school, especially if they have good SAT scores and are applying to a competitive university.

Talking to admissions officers at a college fair or when they visit a high school is fairly basic.

But students who scored among the top quarter on SATs increased their chances of getting admitted into a college by 40 percentage points if they not only made contact off-site but also visited the campus, according to the researchers, who examined admissions data at one unnamed college. Students in the second-highest quartile of SAT test-takers improved their chances by about 20 percentage points in the same situation.

“It’s a surprising finding,” said Muzhe Yang, an economics professor at Lehigh University. “It’s very important to demonstrate interest in a school, to show that you’re excited. You have to pay a high cost to come to a campus. If you’re willing to pay the high cost, then you have a genuine interest.”

To offset the disadvantages of students who can’t afford a trip, some universities are trying to reach out to more remote communities so they offer students a chance to meet admissions officers and ask questions if they can’t visit campus. Some universities pay for groups of students to visit, while others encourage Skype interviews. [Which seems to defeat the purpose of such encounters]


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