Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Summer as a PhD mom...

After one week of sports camp at "that other school" down the road, Duke (gasp, shock, horror!), my kids are home. How will I be a mom and get my dissertation proposal done?

If today was any indication, I'll take my journal articles to the pool, take swim breaks with them every hour, and write at night.

I think this can work...I think this can work...

I'll get back to you.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Adjuncts are not second-class citizens...

A new site to help adjuncts is being beta-tested by a couple of schools. An article today in Inside Higher Ed explains that AdjunctImpact was developed to help adjuncts with issues such as teaching ideas and even how to dress--information that universities are not providing.

One commenter seemed almost disdainful of adjuncts, telling them

If adjuncting is your main source of income, your spare time would be better spent looking for full-time work.

But, as a former full-time adjunct for almost 12 years, I can tell you that adjuncts are adjuncts for a variety of reasons. For me, I wanted to try teaching as a part-time job while raising my small children. I put up with the abuse an adjunct receives, such as never knowing what classes you'll teach, or how much you'll be paid per class, or even if you'll be replaced next semester by the school's benefactor--all for the privilege of learning about teaching as a profession, sharing knowledge, and developing my skills part-time so that I had time for my children, as well.

We know other business professionals who are interested in becoming adjuncts because they are bored with their corporate careers and want to find a way to energize their lives by sharing their knowledge about what they know. For them, we've tried to be a resource on how to become an adjunct, but this website sounds like it could be helpful, too.

The cold, hard fact is that many schools are hiring adjuncts to save money or fill holes in their curriculum that their own professors cannot fill. There is no reason that adjuncts have to be treated like second-class citizens.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Cellphone policy or mosquito policy?

In my pedagogy class, we developed a course syllabus and talked about our philosophies about classroom behavior ranging from absences to the use of cellphones in class. As you can imagine, most professors frown on having to deal with your cell phone ringing while they are lecturing. That has only happened to me one time in the past two years and I was mortified--and then I learned about the silent option for my phone.

Now, students have a new option--the mosquito buzz. It supposedly rings at such a high pitch that only young people can pick it up. Okay, so I'll be an older professor by the time I graduate and probably won't pick it up, but should I now list this on my syllabus?

"No cellphones will be permitted to ring during class--including mosquito buzzing ringtones."

I'm sure there will be something new in a year to replace mosquito buzzing.

No classes, yet tons of reading...

I'm having a hard time explaining to non-academic types what I'm doing this summer. Since my classes are all over, everyone seems to think I am "free"--able to enjoy my time, lounging around the pool. Truth is, I'm reading furiously, trying to write my dissertation proposal, study for comps in the fall, and prepare the survey I'll be using as the basis for my dissertation study. Oh, yes, in between reading and writing, I'm taking my kids to the pool, too.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Teaching is not all fun and games...

I want to be a professor--that is why at 40+ years old I am returning to academia, studying, writing, and taking tests. After being an adjucnt for 12 years, I know the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a professor.

The good
I know how much I love sharing what is new knowledge to undergraduates as they try to find their place in the world. I love listening to them figure out how to solve problems in marketing, or in business, especially ethical problems.

The Bad
I don't particularly enjoy the grading process as there are always students who will fight with you no matter what. I try to be fair and show them how I got their grade, but there are always students who think they deserve an "A" no matter what. On the flip side, there are sometimes students who don't even care what their grade is, and that is equally frustrating.

The Ugly
An article today in Inside Higher Ed discusses one problem I have encountered as a professor: student suicide. During my time as an adjunct, I've had a handful of students who are suicidal. Some have opted to tell me why they are missing so many classes, and some just disappear, leaving me to wonder when they won't return my emails or phone calls. One student went back home and his parents helped him finish his semester. I think they were surprised that I would send his assignments to him long distance, but I wanted to give him hope that someone cared and that it mattered that he finish. Another male student (the article says more of these depressed students are male), confided in me and I kept tabs on him, making sure he was not being too hard on himself, yet making sure to provide the listening and nonjudgmental ear he needed.

All of this was not in my job description, and is not the prettier side of being a professor, but after having my favorite cousin commit suicide when I was just 11, I don't ever want to be accused of only wanting to be a professor for the fun of it--I want to be there for all of it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Who is accountable for plagiarism?

Today in Inside Higher Ed, there is an article about plagiarism at Ohio U among many graduate students in mechanical engineering and it appears that the faculty involved as mentors or advisors were dealt with more harshly than the students who were dishonest. Many commenters believe the students should have received harsher punishments. You can read the many comments at Inside Higher Ed, but it prompts many questions for me...

1) How could students be proud of their work if they are copying 20 pages word-for-word from previous students' theses?
2) Wouldn't a professor remember 20 pages worth of similar content?
3) How many of these professors have plagiarized themselves?

If those professors condoned and even encouraged this type of behavior, is it logical to assume that they might have engaged in it as well?

It is a slippery slope.