As you may know, one reason I created this website, and the more spartan College Teaching Tips website, was to serve as a launching pad for writing a book or two. I really need to move forward on this. Below, you will find some introductory information that may appear in my first book.
I know you are thinking, “Rather arrogant of him to predict the best college teaching book ever.” Okay, you are right. Actually, maybe I can write a pretty good book.
BUT FIRST …
Each semester, college instructors confront a myriad of problems and challenges. Some are brought on by students, and others are of their own making. Inevitably, there were steps instructors could have taken to avoid some problems or to deal more effectively with ones out of their control.
“He can’t teach.” “I don’t understand anything she says.” “He hasn’t returned any our homework.” “She tested us on things she didn’t cover in class.” “He can’t even answer our questions.” These are some of the complaints students lodge against their instructors.
“She thinks she is entitled to good grades.” “He thinks he knows more than I do.” “She misses half the classes and then argues with me when I don’t explain things well.” “He shows up late for every class and sits in the back of the room texting his friends.” These are some of the complaints instructors have about their students.
“She didn’t enter her final grades, which were due last Friday.” “His student told me that he does use the textbook.” “She dismisses class early every evening.” “He didn’t hold class last night.” These are some of the complaints college staff lodge against instructors.
“If he really said that in class, no wonder his students are angry.” “She never told me she would be canceling class.” “This student may be right; it does look like he calculated the grade incorrectly.” “What she did for that individual was unfair to the rest of her students.” These are some of the thoughts that go through a dean’s mind when he or she discovers that an instructor has not performed up to standards.
Who Should Read this Book
If you are new to college teaching, this book is for you. If you are struggling to deal with difficult students, this book is for you. If you are receiving complaints from students, this book is for you. If you are not having problems and want to keep it that way, this book is for you.
The assumption is that those who read this book have the subject matter knowledge and interpersonal skills to be a good college instructor. However, in many cases these individuals have been thrown into a situation, teaching college students, for which they have neither training nor have experience. This book is a safety manual for these individuals to help them avoid the problems that can bring an otherwise promising teaching career to an abrupt end.
This book does instruct the reader on how to find a college teaching job. There are numerous resources available to those seeking part-time college teaching positions.
Note: This would not be included in the book, but here are a few resources I can provide:
This book is not a how-to manual for teaching. Teaching is both an art and science. There are many books with much helpful advice written on this subject. In the real world, many new college faculty members, particularly adjuncts, learn on the job. Some confront problems that keep them from
About the Author
My name is Paul Hummel. More than 14 years ago, I left the manufacturing industry to start a new career in higher education. I still introduce myself as a recovering engineer and probably will continue to do so until I no longer get laughs. In January of 1996, I began my first of four full-time college positions as a consultant to manufacturers. Manufacturing Extension Program Manager was the title on my Elgin Community College (ECC) business cards. A few years later I became the coordinator for non-credit professional development programs, and a few years after that moved into the most rewarding position I have ever held. I joined the ECC TRiO Students Support Services program, and over a four year period I had the privilege of helping more than 400 disadvantaged students pursue their educational dreams. In addition to my full-time employment, I also did some part-time teaching for ECC and two other colleges. In actuality, my part-time teaching endeavors began more than twenty years prior when I taught my first course for ECC, Business Statistics.
I began work on my doctorate shortly after starting at ECC. My concentration was instructional technology with a focus on educational psychology, and my research culminated with a dissertation entitled “An Explanation of Continuous Quality Improvement Practices by College Faculty.” Graduating in 2005 and armed with my degree, I left ECC to accept the position of Dean for Technology, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at Waubonsee Community College .
At the time of this writing, I am hiring from 70 to 90 adjunct instructors each semester to teach more than 200 course sections. Each semester I am gratified to see so many faculty members, including many brand new adjuncts, dedicate themselves to serving our students. While I have drawn heavily on my observations of their good teaching practices, this is not what prompted me to write this book.
Each semester, there are a few adjuncts who struggle. Some of those problems are of their own making, often because instructors did not follow college policies and procedures. Some other problems are student related, and a few of these situations escalate into crises. As a dean, I have gained valuable experience mentoring my faculty on how to avoid problems and helping them solve problems that arise. These experiences are the basis for this book.
I dedicate this book to the hundreds of adjunct faculty members and dozens of full-time instructors with whom I have worked. It is through those relationships that I have learned so much about what it takes to be a successful college instructor.
So, that should give you a sense of what I have in mind. As those of you who have been following me know, my mission is to help college adjuncts and new faculty in general avoid to problems that all too many of them confront. If you have your own advice to share, pass it along!
© 2010 Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.
January 23, 2011