Thursday, June 18, 2009

Teaching and research

Both research and teaching are at the core of what a university is about. From a faculty member's point of view, however, a clear distinction emerges: research gets you recognition from your peers from across the globe, while teaching gets you recognition from your students. Let's face it: whatever we do, we want peer recognition more than anything else (which explains why Oscars are more coveted than Film Critics' Awards).

The reward systems reinforce this bias towards research. Think of academic status markers -- promotions, awards, fellowships at elite academies, conference invitations, &c, &c -- they all use research output as the primary -- if not the only -- yardstick.

These not-particularly-original thoughts were triggered by Satya's post: Are students drawn to universities because of their teaching or their research programs. It also spurred me to collect a bunch of links that came my way through Google Reader and put them up here:

  1. Scott Jaschik's article in IHE -- The Mystery of Faculty Priorities -- summarizes a recent paper by Dahlia K. Remler and Elda Pema: Why Do Institutions of Higher Education Reward Research While Selling Education?

  2. A response to Jaschik's piece from Libby Gruner at Mama PhD: Why I do Research

  3. Roals Hoffmann (Chemistry Nobel winner, 1981): Research Strategy: Teach (pdf) [Link via Ross H. McKenzie's Condensed Concepts]

  4. Tomorrow's Professor Blog: Ten simple rules to combine research and teaching

  5. Dr. Redfield's Research Lab: Researchers as teachers.

  6. Incoherent Ponderer: On teaching.

  7. Paul Gray and David Drew in Tomorrow's Professor Blog: What they didn't teach you at graduate school.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Thanks Abi for the post. One related observation: in the UK universities the postdocs/students are at least encouraged to get some teaching experience (supervisions/tutorials, some classroom lectures maybe) to prepare them for academic job search. I know for a fact that the teaching experience is taken seriously in university appointments there. In India, this does not seem to be the case- the teaching experience on a candidate's CV hardly counts. Seems like teaching is considered a secondary activity from the very beginning.

  2. Anonymous said...


    Did you see a recent post by Seth on teaching versus research (with an analogy to an NY club?) Would have made a nice mystery link addition to your list.