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« Approaching the job market: not a lottery or about philosophical worthiness | Main | Phasing out letters from dissertation committees? »

09/17/2018

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Perspective

I think the person with the query is misunderstanding something. That they have taught forty courses does not put them ahead of everyone who has taught 30 or less courses. At teaching schools, we look for people with teaching experience. But six courses could be adequate to give a sense of one's abilities. One certainly does not count the courses taught in drawing up a short list. What you look for is some breadth, but breadth that matches needs. At small places, people might even be proprietary about particular courses. Someone might say: "We do not want this person who has taught philosophy of mind numerous times (for example) because I teach that". So even if they look good on other counts, they may be perceived as a threat to someone.
With that said, people are (sometimes) reasonable, so colleagues won't (always) stand by as a good candidate is pushed out of the running.

Amanda

I get the impression, but someone correct me if I"m wrong, that when it comes to the pure *number* of courses taught as lead instructor, it is kind of like a barrier standard. This is similar to how the GRE is used for grad school. If a student scores above a certain number, they are deemed as impressive enough to be seriously considered. Any extra amount above that number does not help much. Likewise, teaching schools want to see that a candidate has taught above a certain number of courses as lead instructor, I think that number is likely around 4-10. Anything above that number won't help much. Instead, a teaching school might look at the following factors:

-the variety of courses taught
-the type of institution and students one has taught
-creativity in syllabi, teaching statement, etc
-teaching recommendations from other instructors
-student evals
-special ability to connect with the students at the particular institution
-having gone to an institution similar to the one applying to when the candidate was an undergraduate.

Of course, these are only teaching aspects. There is also research and some other criteria.

Anon

I have been on search committees at a teaching school, and I will say this: I care less about how many courses you have taught and more about your teaching evaluations for the courses you have taught and your teaching reference (if you have one). This might not help the OP who claims to have great evals. So I'm not sure what's up with your application. I honestly just think that there are too many candidates with amazing applications out there and not enough jobs.

I also care a LOT about research. This is because you will not get tenure at my institution (a teaching institution) if you fail to publish consistently. As a search committee member, I am thinking: Will this candidate get tenure here? And my thoughts immediately go to research, because - from my perspective - it's harder to meet research tenure requirements than it is to meet teaching tenure requirements, at least where I am.

SLAC tenured professor & chair

Research is so important, even at so-called "teaching schools". What people fail to understand is that I don't even work at an elite teaching institution and we literally get hundreds of applications from amazing candidates. The last person we hired had multiple books with major university presses and a fantastic variety of articles. The one before that had published in 2 of the top 5 journals in philosophy by most people's standards. All of our last hires come from fantastic schools.

This thought that teaching and lots of it is sufficient for these jobs is hilarious. The market sucks (sadly), and as a result, smaller departments can be incredibly selective, and publishing is what is going to get your foot in those doors, and any others as far as I know.

Derek Bowman

Marcus: "A related issue here is that one should not, in my experience, underestimate the extent to which teaching schools can care about research."

SLAC prof/chair: "The market sucks (sadly), and as a result, smaller departments can be incredibly selective, and publishing is what is going to get your foot in those doors, and any others as far as I know."

Yes, this matches my experience and that of others I've known on the candidate side. It's why I find much of the dialogue about "teaching schools" highly misleading - basically inviting frustration of the sort captured by your reader's query.

I get why this is so - if the conversation assumes that everyone reading only knows about or is only interested in ranked R1s, then it makes some conversational sense to minimize the role of research.

But in practice, I think that defensiveness from those at teaching schools is out of place. Sure, you probably get lots of clueless applications from folks who don't understand what your school is about. But - as your reader's experience illustrates - you still get enough teaching-focused applicants to turn plenty of them away.

In general I wish candidates heard more from folks like 'SLAC tenured professor & chair" in these discussion.

Sam Duncan

One thing people seem to be overlooking here is that when we talk about breadth of teaching experience it's not just the number of different courses that one has taught that teaching schools might find relevant; the variety of institutions one has taught at also matters. Or at least it does for community colleges like the one I teach at. Teaching lots and lots of classes at Harvard or Stanford or even UVA or UNC successfully isn't necessarily predictive for being able to teach our students effectively. Those places have completely different populations of student than we do or than do most teaching focused state schools and many SLACs. For what it's worth, I don't teach that much differently here than I did as a grad student and adjunct at UVA, and to the extent I do I think a lot of that is that with more experience I've just gotten better at teaching. So my feeling is that if you can teach well at say UVA, UNC, or Berkeley you can almost certainly figure out how to do it here. But as previous posters have pointed out it's a buyers market so why should a teaching focused school take a risk on that when they almost certainly have applicants who've proved they can teach well at an institution like mine? (I don't necessarily agree with this thinking, but it's out there and it's not irrational.) One thing that will help applicants at many teaching focused jobs is to get some experience teaching at institutions that serve different student populations than do the sorts of schools that tend to have philosophy PhD programs.

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