Why College Professors Are Failing Students

Are professors spending too much time publishing and not enough time teaching?


What I want to share with you today is an research paper that argues that professors are neglecting students because they are so busying writing papers and books that hardly anybody cares to read.

The reason for the fixation on scholarly research is simple, according to Mark Bauerlain, a Emory University English professor who wrote the study, Professors on the Production Line, Students on Their Own.  Professors receive raises largely based on their scholarly research — the publish-or-perish syndrome. In contrast, universities place little value on whether a professor is an excellent teacher.

Consequently, this is what’s happened:

In the past 50 years, published academic research has soared 500%. Five decades ago, professors cranked out 13,00 published works a year compared to 72,000 annually today. Yet sales for the typical scholarly book in the humanities hovers around 300 copies.

Here is partial scorecard of the academic research that profs have produced between 1980 and 2006:

  • 1,776 studies on Emily Dickinson
  • 3,437 studies on Charles Dickens
  • 3,584 studies on William Faulkner
  • 3.969 studies on John Milton
  • 21,674 studies on William Shakespeare

I realize that I’m being naive when I suggest that colleges and universities should refocus on what should be their top mission:  teaching students.

Further Reading:

Hold Your Nose: US News & World Report Releases Its Latest College Rankings.

Rating College Professors.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and the college blogger at CBSMoneyWatch.com.

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