New Teaching responsibilities

Elisa was particularly enthusiastic about her new teaching responsibilities. She had taught as a sessional instructor at other institutions while completing her studies but had

been fulfilling short-term contracts where she had had little control over the course con-

tent and teaching approach. Now, as an assistant professor, Elisa could be more creative

when deciding how to approach her classes.

She worked very hard in her first term to create the best educational experience pos-

sible for her students. She recorded each of her lectures and watched them again later to

see where she could improve. She held extra office hours to be more available to her stu-

dents. Experiential learning techniques and hands-on activities were introduced and

seemed to help her students to better understand course content.

All in all, Elisa felt that she had really excelled, and she looked forward to seeing her

efforts reflected in her course evaluations. Her evaluations when she was a sessional instruc-

tor had always been excellent, and she felt that with her new academic freedom there was

no place to go but up. Elisa secretly coveted the recognition of a teaching award and won-

dered if the evaluations might be her first steps in that direction. Other than test results,

the evaluations were her sole means of getting feedback on her effectiveness.

But Elisa had never seen the forms before, and when she did see them for the first time

she was dismayed to say the least.

She had been accustomed to getting detailed student feedback at her previous institu-

tion, when working as a sessional. Those forms had asked a series of 12 questions about the

instructor’s knowledge, teaching style, approachability, and fairness of evaluations. This

being so, it was easy to determine where one was lacking and how to improve. But these

forms were nothing like that. There was an open area to write in feedback, but that section

was optional and she feared that many students would not bother filling it in. Only two

formal questions were asked: (1) Is this course an elective or required? and (2) Select from

the following two choices: Was the instructor satisfactory or unsatisfactory?

The second question distressed her most

· · ·

satisfactory or unsatisfactory? What about

excellence? Was it actually impossible to earn “excellent?” She had strived for excellence her

entire life. Now that formally achieving it wasn’t even an option, she began looking back on

all those hours spent perfecting her lectures and providing one-on-one help to students. She

was still glad the students were supported, but suddenly she didn’t feel the same way about

all that extra work. She looked over her newly purchased book of experiential learning exer-

cises. A part of her couldn’t help asking: Is the extra effort I’m putting in really worth it?

Discussion Questions

1. What seems to be important to Elisa? Put another way, what seems to drive job satisfac-

tion for her?

2. Use expectancy and equity perspectives to explain why Elisa’s job attitudes changed so

dramatically after she saw the student evaluations.

3. If you were Elisa’s manager (department chair) how would you address this issue? What

might help improve Elisa’s job satisfaction?

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