chapter  3
17 Pages

Academics as Teachers

ByLionel S. Lewis

American institutions of higher learning were from the first designed for undergraduate instruction. Faculty work load is calculated largely in terms of hours of formal instruction. By inclination and deed the vast majority of American academics are teachers rather than researchers. With regularity, national surveys of the American professoriate show that many more identify themselves as teachers than as researchers. About twice as many prefer the term teacher to describe themselves than the terms scholar and scientist combined. In evaluating junior colleagues for tenure, almost 90 percent of the chairs agreed that teaching quality was very important. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, in 70 percent of the 31,000 academic departments in four-year institutions, quality of teaching is considered most important in hiring entry-level, full-time faculty. Since the late 1950s, there has been an increase in the availability of research funds, particularly in the early years from the federal government, for college and university faculty.