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View Diary: Open thread for night owls: How the growing use of adjunct faculty is destroying the academy (115 comments)

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  •  Unfortunately, (10+ / 0-)

    the structure of academia (especially in the sciences, but also in the liberal arts to a lesser extent) requires that grad students vastly outnumber professors.

    Scientific research could not be done at current levels of funding without armies of grad students. And in almost all fields, teaching undergraduates relies on those armies of grad students as graders, TAs, and instructors.

    I'd say roughly half my classes as an undergrad - almost all of the 100-300 level classes with under 50 students - were taught by a grad student. Of the other half, most were large lectures which had at least one grad student per 30 students working as a TA or grader. I only had a few small, specialized upper-division courses which were taught entirely by professors.

    So discouraging students from going to grad school would set us up for a whole new set of problems.

    "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

    by kyril on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:28:06 AM PDT

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    •  Agreed - varies by field of study. (0+ / 0-)

      In some science and engineering fields most people who get their PhD never spend a day in academia after completing their study. In those fields, the armies of grad students will still exist. Of course, in those fields, there seem to be plenty of opportunities for top notch PhDs within academia as well. Obviously, most people who obtain their PhD's in any field are not "top notch" compared to their peers and in science and engineering, unlike liberal arts, these people can almost always get a good job within their specific field in the commercial world (assuming they are open minded and flexible).

      This may not be true for Physics however (which was one of the example fields mentioned).

      I was fortunate in that I don't recall having any grad students as instructors in undergraduate science and engineering (although, in the larger classes, they served as TAs and in sciences also lead lab sections). I'm probably spoiled in that respect by going to a fairly good university but studying in a field that was not nearly as popular as it is now almost 40 years later.

      Students need to be educated and urged not to rely on their PhDs being worth anything in fields that don't offer ample directly related opportunities in the commercial sector.

      •  Yeah, my department might have made (0+ / 0-)

        unusually-extensive use of grad students as instructors (math department at enormous state flagship university).

        I wouldn't say it was a bad thing for students; it allowed them to offer every math course after the intro calculus sequence as a small class of 20-40 students. We could see the board, ask questions, have discussions in class, have our work graded by the actual instructor.

        I'd certainly rather they'd hired a few hundred professors, but given that that's completely unrealistic without a major change in budget priorities, I'll take the UW model over the alternatives.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 10:30:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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