Monday, October 20, 2014

Ten Before Tenure encourages learning at Boise State. From the Boise State Arbiter.

If Socrates were alive today, he wouldn’t get tenure. This is largely because he polluted the minds of his students with ideas and had a tendency to shake things up.

At Boise State, students don’t really have the Socrates problem. Sometimes, however, they get a tenure-track professor who takes a safer approach to teaching, which helps them secure tenure but negatively impacts the overall experience for students.

“There are certainly people who get very comfortable teaching in a particular way and, for most of their careers that’s the way they teach,” said Susan Shadle, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning.

For this reason, the Ten Before Tenure program was created.

The Rest.


  1. OK, I read the article, and I haven't the foggiest notion what's going on. It's a program, or a course, that's supposed to alter the way faculty (those life-long students) respond to teaching or evaluations, or something. It's supposed to shake up our teaching methods (which didn't develop for reasons, at all) by making us students again? Or just yelling "FLIP THE CLASSROOM!" until we surrender our syllabi to Coursera and EdX?

    I don't get it.

    1. I'm still trying to figure out ten what before tenure.

      Conks upside the head with a two-by-four would be my guess.

    2. I, too, am stumped. I also suspect that, unless Boise State is a lot better *really* taking teaching seriously as a criterion for tenure than the great majority of American universities, that it might make a lot more sense to run this program just *after* tenure, when professors might be feeling a bit of post-book depression, and also might feel they have the time to reflect on seven years or so of teaching and ready to experiment a bit.

    3. OK, so, "Ten before tenure" is apparently described in this page [linked]. Could the article have included a citation of that page? But nooooooooooooooooooooooo!

      Some flava:

      "Ten Before Tenure is a voluntary program for pre-tenure faculty, comprised of two components. / * ten teaching-related development experiences . . ." Now I already know something about you, because you cast "comprised of" o'er the seas travelled by educators.

      "Service-Learning involves the design of courses to include a student service experience connected in an explicit way to the course content and learning outcomes." Oh, great, something that "involves" something to "include" something "in an explicit way". Actually, I'd wager that that service-learning IS a student service experience explicitly connected to the learning outcomes. Design of courses to include that stuff would be service-teaching, n'est-ce pas?

      I must stop now.

    4. Thanks, OPH. So basically it's normal professional development on a point system, with a bias towards whatever the deans think is selling in reports to donors this year.

  2. I would encourage Ben to stop putting so many articles up and just post original things that come from readers. I don't have the tiniest bit of interest in what Boise does.

    1. I'm not in charge here. I just do a bit of the Twitter thang for CM.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. As Jonathan says, the article isn't real informative. However, I get the impression that the lady who runs the program is an idiot. (Maybe the author misrepresents what the CTLE director really said. I don't know but I hope so.)

    The author claims, "to her, the reason teachers may want to keep the same teaching style is because the strategy they use is effective for students." Bullshit. More likely, it's because the faculty either think they are already excellent teachers because they teach the way they were taught or they don't give a shit because they know research is all that matters. (I'm guessing that teaching is less important but I don't know Boise State's promotion rules.)

    The other statement that makes me wonder about her sanity is, "Shadle believes most faculty pay attention to student evaluations and, if their approach is not effective, they gradually make changes until it is." You're joking, right?

  4. Um.

    Please understand that the contents of this blog are mostly provided by its readers. If you want to contribute, it is (as far as I have seen) relatively easy to get posting rights. One is always free to read or not read the posts. And of course the best way to get the content that one desires posted here is to post it oneself.

    In the nicest possible way: complaining about the content is unlikely to cause people to be motivated to write and post the content that suits you (or ME, or ANYONE in particular).

    How about it, why don't you give CM some content?

  5. Just to put matters into perspective, about Socrates: he was in fact condemned to death for precisely the reasons you cite for his not getting tenure if he were to come back now.