The Adjunct Archetype

One of the issues I see in higher education currently s the rise of the Adjunct.

Not to say that adjunct positions aren’t necessary in some cases, but in general I feel that it leads to the demise of the tenure track position and of the quality of education in these institutions. For the most part, adjuncts are just that, an add on. They often do not teach a full load, do not receive benefits, and in some cases they do not even have offices on campus.

The creation of more and more temporary adjunct positions is alarming to those of us who desire that dream job with research and teaching. That job we can begin to build a life around, a reputation from. Adjuncts do not have this security, the pay, the research access, or any of the tools of a tenure track professor. Yet they are expected to give our students a quality education?

I find concerning.

I do feel adjuncts have a place, and it’s a nice stepping stone into a real tenure track position, but it certainly should not be the standard.

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Scholarly Integrity For All

After reviewing the ORI Scholarly Integrity website I came across the project at the University of Arizona. The university is striving to promote integrity in research as all universities should.

I feel that being in social science, research with integrity is discussed much more often as we must go through the IRB process any time we conduct research with human participants. This IRB process really helps you as the researcher to think through what you are doing, why you are doing it, and the broader impact of your study. It allows you to reflect on each component of the research and requires that you carefully consider how your data will impact both your research and your participants. Thinking through how this will impact your participants will hopefully lead to integrity in reporting and conducting all portions of your research.

I feel that the example set by Arizona and the other participating institutions is something that all colleges should strive for. I also feel that the humanities have a leg up, so to speak, on thinking about integrity in their research.

Social Media for the Researcher

Well, I’ll go ahead and admit it, I’m FOR social media in #HigherEd. So you’ve been warned. This will be an article about it’s awesomeness.

I was wandering twitter just now…looking for updates from @Goodreads to see why their website is down. And this popped up on my feed.

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I didn’t know who Austin Frakt was. But someone in the evaluation field I follow, Stephanie Evergreen, does…and she retweeted it.

So what?? Right?

So now I’m following Austin…because that chart was epic!!! I’m a scientist. I need to communicate my research. I need to communicate to the public!! I’ve TOTALLY used those words!! Now I have a way to be a better communicator! Thanks twitter!!

The epic chart made me click the link to the article…because Austin was genius enough to tuck the article into the tweet. It’s not his article from what I can gather, but still. He’s responsible for me finding and reading this research…that isn’t even his!! You can’t tell me that you wouldn’t get excited if suddenly 6000+ people knew about the awesomeness of YOUR research!! Your research that probably sits forever with maybe 3 citations.

One tweet. 5000 people.

One retweet…another 1000….

Even if only one tenth of the viewers see it…and one tenth of those actually click the article..still…that’s 60 people. And yes I’m making up those statistics…but I can tell you this much…899 people retweeted that tweet….so 899 people saw it, liked it, and shared it…with at a minimum of 899 others (assuming they all have at least 1 follower….)

Are you getting my point yet?

Promote yourself!!!! 10 years ago…this was only done at conferences…maybe here and there around the web…but certainly not on social media.

But now…why not promote it? Self-promote, promote a friend, promote a colleague. Whatever! IT CLEARLY WORKS!!! And now that I mentioned it…the article is going even further (or at least if someone reads this it is).

Think of all that reach!! Think of how impressed a tenure committee would be to see your article getting so many views, downloads, citations, tweets, blogs, blerbs, comments…you get the picture.

So yeah, I’m for social media in higher education. I’m ok with that. Let’s be honest, if anyone EVER shared my research 899 times…I would probably screenshot it and add it to my tenure packet, grant proposal, refrigerator door, and mail a copy to my mom.

Where else can you instantly share your passion with that many strangers? And if your research isn’t something you’re passionate and proud enough about to tweet…then why are you doing it?

Open Access in Evaluation

It’s on every graduate student’s mind…publish, publish, publish.

But where?

What happens if you publish in an open access journal? What IS open access?

Well, in the fields of Evaluation and Extension, there isn’t a lot to go on. Other fields have expansive Open Access journals that would add to ones CV tremendously. For Extension the only viable option I have located is the Open Access Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants.  Interesting, but with Agriculture being so broad, I know nothing about this topic…however I am interested in herbal remedy type-things so perhaps I will peruse this in my spare time. But for me, this is not an option for submission. Still fun though!

Then looking at Evaluation there was a bit more to go off of. The one I found most notable was Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation. Much closer to my interests!! It is peer reviewed and has been around for 15 years. Pretty impressive! The articles are all mainly focused on education and statistical tests. I’m familiar with these facets of assessment but it’s not my main focus, however looking over their policy page I do see that they publish “Issue papers” on controversial topics. With my focus on Evaluation Culture I wouldn’t necessarily call this a controversial topic, but I think I could work something out.

Interesting options for publication.

Do you think it’s easier or harder to get published in an open access journal? Do you have any experiences? Would you try it as a graduate student?

Project Personal Mission Statement

A professor in my department has a personal mission statement that she shares when doing her “elevator speech”. It’s usually what she leads with. Hers is really more of a tag-line almost. It’s “Science literacy for all”. As a recovering high school science teacher, I love it. I am totally on board.

And clearly, this personal mission statement sticks with you when you hear it. It’s how I define this professor in my head when thinking about her research interests and general professional work. I look up to her a lot as we have a lot in common, being the former science teachers in the Agriculture department. (Honestly, I look up to her a lot in all manner of ways. She’s a pretty inspiring person.)

So this has gotten me thinking. Perhaps I should craft a personal mission statement or tag line.

What do you think? Do you have one?? I’d love to hear it!

I’ve also discussed this idea with one of the professors on my committee, Dr. A. He said he had seen similar things in the Evaluation field, and I could use it in my email signature or in the blog, or even on the CV. Hmmm…

Right now, mine is rather lengthy…and mostly in my head. So let’s try to get it written out and then maybe work on shortening it, shall we?

Ok. Here goes.

Evaluation should be used to help you improve. It’s a snapshot, not a snap judgement. Evaluation should not be intimidating or used to threaten. It should be used to focus on how you can grow either as an individual or as an organization. I want to take the negative connotation out of the thought “I’m being evaluated”. It should be helpful, not harmful. Productive, not destructive.

What do we think about that? Ok, enough with the “this…not that”. Too many? Haha.

Ok…let’s try for the short version

 Evaluation is a tool. Not a judgement call.

Yes? Maybe? Does that get my point across or allow questions that I could then elaborate my point?

What parts do you like? Anything you disagree with? I’d love to hear from you!

Reasons TO Go to Grad School

So you want to go to grad school….

So you want to be broke.

Really broke.

So you want to hear all those 100 reasons NOT to get a PhD.

Have you READ the Chronicle lately?? According to 70% of their articles, this grad school thing is a waste of time. My chances of getting a professorial job are slim to none.

Then I remember when I swore I would never take another job that required me to clean a bathroom ever again.

Then I remember how much I value education.

Then I look at my fiance who took the first job he could to move up here with me. I think about his job which doesn’t require a degree although he has one (three). I think about his last job working with troubled youth that got him hit in the face with a 2×4. I think about the fact that right now, even though he’s upper level management, he hasn’t been able to come home in days because of the weather and he has to write his employees up for not coming in even though we are in a state of emergency. He feels like crap. He doesn’t agree with it. He’s not happy. He’s barely getting by. Thankfully once I graduate we should both be able to apply for jobs that fit with our degrees…or at least one of us can.

I don’t want that to be me.

Do I want to make a decent amount of money? Of course

Do I want to get an amazing tenure-track position? Who doesn’t? (Ok my fiance doesn’t. His problem.)

Will I? Maybe. It’s not impossible.

But if I don’t? Was grad school still worth it?

YES

I’ll still KNOW I’m highly educated…and this matters to me. A lot. More than anything, this is personal. For a lot of reasons, I need to prove this to myself. (Basically why my fiance went to school…his degree is kind of useless…but he knew that going in.)

I’ll find a job. Even if I go back to teaching high school. That still doesn’t require me to clean a bathroom. Is it my dream job? No. But it’s A job.

I won’t have to clean bathrooms.

I’ll be more likely to be in control of my career path.

Will I be in debt? Yeah. Who isn’t? (Ok…again my fiance isn’t. Don’t ask how he managed a PhD without D-E-B-T)

But WITH this PhD I will be more capable of achieving my dream job. I’ll be able to at the very least say that I have published research. At the least I will be a step closer to becoming a professor, researcher, and evaluator. I will be more in control of my career and my life. I won’t have to be miserable every day at my job. I will have a chance at a career. Why does it seem like everyone is SO against people pursuing their dream careers? Why does every article discourage the pursuit of the PhD? What’s with making this all seem so hopeless? I mean I get being realistic, but really, to say to every student that they can’t be a professor?? You managed to do it…and clearly you won’t be around forever. Someone will need to fill your shoes eventually (and I hope sooner rather than later).

I realize getting a PhD now isn’t as useful as it was 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. But I also realize a high school diploma is now next to worthless unless my career goals include golden arches. You can’t just tell people to stop going to grad school (Although really, most of you are saying that). Yes, there ARE too many PhD’s. But are all of them equal? Are all of them trying to become faculty? No and No. So someone has a chance. Someone can get that position. Or even if they don’t, aren’t they better off (yes, depending on their field they won’t be) with this degree than they were before? Aren’t they at least even proud?? And it’s not like you, writing those articles on how a PhD is a waste of time and money, have never wasted time or money on anything. Heck, that’s what most of us are best at.

So quit knocking people for getting a higher degree. Quit trying to pull them down. I’m not saying don’t be realistic, but just once in awhile, some encouragement wouldn’t kill you, would it?

Multiplicity of Mission Statements

For class this week we were assigned to review some mission statements. I chose to look at the three colleges where I would most want to gain future employment and see how they stack up.

First off: University of Tennessee

Mission

Our primary mission is to move forward the frontiers of human knowledge and enrich and elevate the citizens of the state of Tennessee, the nation, and the world. As the preeminent research-based, land-grant university in the state, UT embodies the spirit of excellence in teaching, research, scholarship, creative activity, outreach, and engagement attained by the nation’s finest public research institutions.

UT’s Carnegie Classification is “Research University” (very high research activity). Most undergraduates are full-time, and admission is selective with a fairly low transfer-in rate. Admission to graduate and professional programs is also competitive. Graduate offerings include master’s, doctoral, and professional programs that focus both on research and practice. Nationally ranked programs, as well as our partnerships with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, are among UT’s unique characteristics.

I find it interesting that they mention admission and their transfer rate. Once I complete my degree program I very much want to continue both research and teaching work. In any mission statement I view, I prefer to see research as a high priority, and UT certainly does that. Go big orange!!

Next, let’s look at my current institution where I am a doctoral student and would very much like to continue at once I graduate.

Virginia Tech:

Mission Statement

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is a public land-grant university serving the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world community. The discovery and dissemination of new knowledge are central to its mission. Through its focus on teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement, the university creates, conveys, and applies knowledge to expand personal growth and opportunity, advance social and community development, foster economic competitiveness, and improve the quality of life.

2001 Mission Statement adapted in 2006, by the Board of Visitors

Again, we see here another land-grant university. Given my current course of study, land grants offer me the best job opportunities. Given Virginia Tech’s motto Ut Prosim I would hope to see a bit more about service in their mission statement, but they do mention outreach and teaching as part of their goals. Growing up just outside of Blacksburg I’ll always feel at home with Virginia Tech.

Finally: NC State

Statement of Mission

The University of North Carolina is a public, multi-campus university dedicated to the service of North Carolina and its people. It encompasses the 16 diverse constituent institutions and other educational, research, and public service organizations. Each shares in the overall mission of the University. That mission is to discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and society. This mission is accomplished through instruction, which communicates the knowledge and values and imparts the skills necessary for individuals to lead responsible, productive, and personally satisfying lives; through research, scholarship, and creative activities, which advance knowledge and enhance the educational process; and through public service, which contributes to the solution of societal problems and enriches the quality of life in the State. In the fulfillment of this mission, the University shall seek an efficient use of available resources to ensure the highest quality in its service to the citizens of the State.

Teaching and learning constitute the primary service that the University renders to society. Teaching, or instruction, is the primary responsibility of each of the constituent institutions. The relative importance of research and public service, which enhance teaching and learning, varies among the constituent institutions, depending on their overall missions.

This mission statement is very interesting as it includes “personally satisfying lives”. This speaks to what I envision to myself and why I returned to graduate school to pursue my doctoral degree. Overall I find their mission statement the most detailed and focused. I would have to say that this is probably my favorite mission statement of the three because of the amount of detail. However their focus leans more towards serving the state rather than the country and the world. I appreciate that the other two had that component.

 

Overall, mission statements to tend to mirror one another and can blend together. If you really look you can find nuianced differences that can help your decision making process when looking for a job or deciding to pursue higher education.