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10/25/2018

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Anon

I am at a state school that considers teaching and research equally in tenure decisions. In reviewing applications, I want to see outstanding teaching evaluations and a strong research track record/ promise. Unless my department was hiring for philosophy of education (which would not happen), I would see research on teaching pedagogy as a distraction from a research program in philosophy. A publication in Teaching Philosophy would impress me only if the candidate had a ton of other publications in another area, and anything else probably wouldn't impress me at all.

If the candidate is junior and their research program is in teaching pedagogy, I'd think that's especially weird given their lack of experience in the discipline. I also don't know what kinds of jobs such a person would be applying for.

To be clear, I think the candidate's research program is super important (!!) and I don't mean to sound harsh. I just think they might have an especially difficult time securing a TT position in philosophy.

Amanda

Anon: You seem to be assuming "teaching pedagogy" is "not philosophy." What justifications do you have for this assumption? As far as I am concerned, philosophy is about analyzing important concepts, making strong arguments regarding issues that are often foundational and ethical, and making the case for why certain ideas are worthwhile or true. I see no reason, in itself, why teaching pedagogy cannot be part of any of the aforementioned. In any case, I would be interested in hearing your justifications for this stance.

As for what the person could be applying for: perhaps applied ethics (which some of teaching pedagogy might be), or certain areas of social epistemology, or virtue ethics, or a job with an open AOS or AOC. I say all this, as someone who has done no teaching pedagogy work myself, but who has enjoyed some of the work of others. The work I have read, by the way, includes a lot of discussion on what sort of virtues make a good teacher, which is just a branch of virtue ethics/epistemology.

Amanda

I will add that, of course, some teaching pedagogy is more sociology than philosophy, but certainly not all of it.

Anon

Anon above also seemed to be worried about publishing and presenting on teaching causing a candidate to publish and present less on their Main Thing.

But plenty of people have something they publish and present on that isn't their Main Thing, so I don't really get how some side research on teaching poses a special problem.

Anon

Amanda,
You are right that my impression of research on teaching pedagogy is likely not justified (I'd have to think really hard about why I have this impression - but I honestly don't have time to think that hard about this - which is, in my experience, also the mental state of a search committee member.) I think more helpful to the candidate is knowing that some search committee members will - through no fault of the candidate's own - have this impression, so that if there is a way of bolstering other research and downplaying the teaching pedagogy stuff, that might be strategically helpful on their file.

Anon

I don't think that a side research on teaching is a special problem at all. I think it is a problem *if* it is at the expense of research productivity in the AOS, like having only one publication and that one publication being on teaching pedagogy.

Amanda

Fair enough - it is good to know reactions of search committee members, whether or no they are justified. But, I do hope you and others will try to be a bit more open-minded about non-traditional areas of research. Of course, some of these areas might not be any good, but some others can be .

Paul

I think that it really does vary by department and type of job. A colleague of mine (who graduated from a major state R1) told me when he was prepping for his teaching demo for this job that his advisor (a very big name in his field) told him that as long as he can stand in front of people without drooling, no one will care. In other words, teaching doesn't matter. And its my impression that this is the case in most R1 philosophy programs, but that is just an impression.

In my interdisciplinary program, teaching is REALLY important, so extra training and/or pubs in pedagogy would be a bonus. The candidate would also need a strong research agenda. But if we do not get the clear impression that you care about teaching and are looking for ways to improve, you probably won't progress to the next level all other things being equal.

As for SLACs and regional state schools, I have a feeling teaching is much more important and that training and publishing in pedagogy would give a candidate a leg up, again, all other things being equal, but again that is just an impression. I would be interested in hearing about the experience of other folks.

FourYear

Having worked at a four year college that cared about teaching, I still do not think that any sort of teacher training would tip the scale on a decision to hire one person rather than another. Other considerations would wash out any sort of advantage. More important would be teaching experience. So the fact that someone had some teacher training could not tip the balance in their favor if they lacked teaching experience. And I do not recall ever looking at equally qualified contenders and it coming down to teacher training. The value of it - if it has value - is that it teaches you something about teaching. I believe it can. But that is a different matter.

Jonathan Tallant

A perhaps idiosyncratic answer: we (Nottingham) have been known to care about training quals quite a lot. Most (all?) of the permanent jobs we've hired to in the last 3-4 years have asked applicants to demonstrate, not just experience of teaching, but excellence in teaching. If a candidate can't demonstrate that they're excellent at teaching, we won't interview them (we can't, not once we list an essential criteria for the job as 'demonstrated excellence in teaching'). Someone just mentioning a certificate probably won't do well against that metric, but if they can unpack what it means, and/or include it as a part of a wider set of evidence of the quality of their teaching, then that really helps.

I don't recall it ever making a difference as to who got the job out of the folks we interviewed.

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