It is hard to believe that Universities around the country are locked into a Century old paradigm of Research and Reward as a priority over quality education for our next generation.
As a part time educator, myself, I see it first-hand throughout the year at the university I teach at. Now this is not a blanket statement that credentialed, or should I say tenured tracked, professors are shunning their responsibilities toward students (many are exceptional educators with yrs. of quality results). But the system is certainly doing so.
To top this off, many areas of learning, including my own (the business school) have reinforced this broken and outdated system that focuses on terminal degrees over both real-world experience and the ability to educate adults in the classroom.
Ask yourself, if you wanted to learn Accounting, would you be better off with a former accounting business senior partner with 25 to 30 yrs. of real world experience or a rookie PHD with 2 years of a fellowship having done research on some slim segment of the field? Tough call if the PHD can work the classroom or if the retired partner can’t.
But from a practical viewpoint it is hard to reason that the researcher brings more to the table then the experienced practitioner.
In some areas of education such as nursing and social work, universities have provided more of a balance to utilizing a practitioner approach to education and requirements to teach. But for some strange reason the business community has not.
At Adelphi, where I am a senior adjunct in the business school, we are currently grappling with this issue. It is bolstered by ASCSB accreditation requirements that mandate a certain percentage of doctoral level full – time educators. In fact, almost all must be. Tension has arisen over the past few yrs. as adjunct faculty have been bypassed for the opportunity to teach full-time. The business school administration with full support of the university has chosen to go the old school route. Hiring degreed PHD’s over otherwise highly qualified professionals from industry that just happen to be really good in the classroom. They use the accreditation standards as a shield to any and all conversations on the topic.
It’s hitting a crescendo now as several new faculty have appeared as part-timers stare and watch them fumble over curriculum that they rarely have practiced in real environments. The adjuncts are provided the crumbs as they take on the leftover classes. Many adjuncts don’t care as the class is just an extra few dollars or something to do that is fulfilling. However, several do care and even a few, like me, would welcome the opportunity to do this as a full -time gig.
Think of the analogy of a pilot, would you rather have someone who has read about piloting and got an A on the written test and done an extensive research paper on flying, or someone who has flown thousands of hours in the Air force or Navy and has dealt with all types of stressful conditions. We already know the answer.
The crazy part of the conversation is that teaching does not require a degree of any kind to perform. Universities pay premium dollars for tenure track professionals to conduct research, which certainly is of importance, especially in the sciences. But let’s be serious, how many of the journal articles written by the everyday professor is read by even a small number of individuals outside the PHD fraternity…or impact our lives in the smallest of ways? My musings on the SHRM blog and Fistful of Talent get multiple views and reads in comparison (and nobody is paying me for them) and truth be told have more practical impact within the HR community.
So, the question for today is why has the world of Universities and their yearning for PHD’s never changed with the times?
Now that would be something to do research on!