Research in the classroom

It has recently come to the attention of many students that their professors are spending more time on research, and less on teaching. It’s not only the fault of the school or its professors; it’s a systemic problem of universities becoming more research-intensive and less focused on undergrad education, mainly for the purposes of funding.

As Kim Richard Nossal told the Journal, “The teaching function of the university is negatively affected by an increasing emphasis on research.”

Many students and faculty choose to be a part of this university based on its prestige. With such a renowned reputation for research, it’s hard to expect—or demand—more from an undergraduate experience. It’s unfortunate that professors have taken so much heat for something that is often beyond their control. Especially with new professors, research takes priority when tenure evaluations come up. In order to publish regularly, they need to focus primarily on their research. Moreover, as
professors supervise more graduate students, undergraduate teaching—a difficult measure to quantify—often falls to the bottom of their priority list.

One way to alleviate the increasing tension between students and faculty would be for professors to bring their research into the classroom and use it as a teaching tool. If they were able to showcase their research, and relate it to what the class is studying, it would help to engage students in the material. The best professors are able to balance both research and teaching, and by integrating the
two and including students in their work, they may be able to lecture more passionately in their class.
Although it’s surprising that students are not speaking up about what some are calling a “Zellers education”, they may be protesting in a less vocal way—by not attending classes. Of course students expect a quality education but they have no concept about what university life used to be like. How can we demand a better education when our knowledge and understanding of what university could be is limited to our own personal experience?

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