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The Sciences

Do Scientists Value Teaching?

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyMay 6, 2010 5:50 PM

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There have long been complaints that teaching gets relatively short shrift in academe--especially at major research universities--and that what everybody really values is research. Well, there's some new data out on the topic--a survey by Nature Education, reported on by Times Higher Education:

The analysis is based on a survey of 450 university scientists from more than 45 countries who have both undergraduate teaching and research responsibilities.

It states that while in theory most consider teaching to be as important as research, their actions suggest otherwise.

While 77 per cent say that teaching and research are equally important and only 7 per cent say that research takes precedence, when asked to select a candidate for a role involving both duties, 48 per cent chose a star researcher with no significant teaching experience.

The report says that the respondents believe that this is the appointment their institution would want them to make, adding that despite missions to educate, most top-level universities are "far more interested" in pursuing a research than a teaching agenda.

It notes that such institutions tend to "direct more funding, awards and job security to outstanding researchers than outstanding teachers".

You can read the full report on the Nature Education study here

. My take: We knew this already. But compelling data can compel action, so having some is a very good thing.

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