Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In case you're wondering ...

5. Why do Institutions of Higher Education Reward Research While
Selling Education?
by Dahlia K. Remler, Elda Pema - #14974 (ED)


Higher education institutions and disciplines that traditionally did
little research now reward faculty largely based on research, both
funded and unfunded. Some worry that faculty devoting more time to
research harms teaching and thus harms students' human capital
accumulation. The economics literature has largely ignored the
reasons for and desirability of this trend. We summarize, review,
and extend existing economic theories of higher education to explain
why incentives for unfunded research have increased. One theory is
that researchers more effectively teach higher order skills and
therefore increase student human capital more than non-researchers.
In contrast, according to signaling theory, education is not
intrinsically productive but only a signal that separates high- and
low-ability workers. We extend this theory by hypothesizing that
researchers make higher education more costly for low-ability
students than do non-research faculty, achieving the separation more
efficiently. We describe other theories, including research quality
as a proxy for hard-to-measure teaching quality and barriers to
entry. Virtually no evidence exists to test these theories or
establish their relative magnitudes. Research is needed,
particularly to address what employers seek from higher education
graduates and to assess the validity of current measures of teaching

When I read this I instantly think of a GTF vs. a professor. A professor is knowledgeable they are able to understand most questions that are thrown at them. This comes about through experience. Experience is gained by being in the field or researching the field. A GTF, on the other hand, has little knowledge of application. This is evidenced by the fact that I have asked many questions off topic and the GTF is unable to answer if the answer does not come from the book. Just some thoughts.
I think it make perfect sense where there is separation created between high ability and low ability people but validating is really difficult because they may seem like high or low but different aspects of individuals like health or mental state or family background or divorce' or other many different factors can bias the experiment...
I know a professor in university of washington. She told me that, professor is teaching the same class for more than 20 years. They can't teach better than the GTFs sicne she told me GTF will prepare a lot of stuff and try to get answer and reply email immitediatly. I think it's realy hard to separate the high ability and low ability person.
This seems like it is clearly providing the wrong incentives to some professors, particularly true given that many students can attest to the disinterestedness of their graduate teaching faculty in teaching those intro-level classes that everyone hates.
While research is important in a professors career for monetary benefits I feel that the social impact of helping a student should outweigh the cost of spending time on your research. I have noticed this get in the way of at least one economics professor at UO and discouraged me when he told me during his office hours he had no time because he had other deadlines.
This article questions the universities commitment to having teachers perform research and teaching and its effects. While I feel that sometimes professors research can get in the way of their attention to their students it also allows the teachers to remain constantly updated allowing for the most relevant information pertaining to their study. Research also brings recognition to the prof and the school so that should benefit the students with increased grants for better facilities or studies, or possibly just bringing in more study intense students.
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