Comments on: Historiann has a man-date. . . History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:41:03 +0000 hourly 1 By: Another Damned Medievalist Mon, 31 Aug 2009 19:06:21 +0000 nicely put, Historiann!

By: Historiann Mon, 31 Aug 2009 18:38:56 +0000 Quixote–I don’t think either ADM or I were saying that there’s *NO* difference, just that the way you feel each day when you go to work is pretty much the same. In other professions, getting a “promotion” means getting a new job, and having new challenges presented to you. In academia, getting a promotion means that you are permitted to continue doing pretty much the same job. It’s up to you to find the new challenges, and that’s sometimes a daunting (and disappointing) surprise to people who have just won tenure.

By: Another Damned Medievalist Mon, 31 Aug 2009 18:19:34 +0000 Quixote — That’s fairly insulting and implies that tenured faculty are somehow removed from reality. This stint in academia started with five years as contingent faculty and then the last three in a T-T job. I *just* got not-really-tenure last spring.

Basically, this is not true where I work. I think that’s a lot of the impression, though. I’ve had two tenure files in my career: one where I taught as a visiting person, but on a long-term appointment, so union rules required I be observed as if I were tenure-track, just in case, and one where I am now (although we don’t have actual tenure). I would have tenure at the other place, too, had something happened to the person I was replacing. I said no to things then, and say no to things now. In both positions, I had a reputation for being outspoken, but also thoughtful and willing to back up my arguments with facts. I have certainly clashed with The Powers That Be.

I was also department chair here before actually getting tenure-like-thing. Most of my friends are senior to me, and they are mostly chairs of their departments, running search committees, on Faculty Senate or its committees (me, I’m on a major university committee, chair, a faculty liaison/trainer person for a new software program, in charge of freshmen advising for my department and two others, unofficially in charge of setting up faculty mixers, on the governing board of one professional organization and my dean has just put my name forward to be on the board of a journal in our field — and none of that counts the ad-hoc meetings I’ve been called into by our Provost in the last three weeks, which would be 2 plus writing up FAQs for new faculty). I have an average load, and many of my tenured colleagues have similar ones. We have lots of committees on which junior faculty cannot sit, so that takes some of the load off them.

To be sure, some of this is having a dean and provost who want junior faculty to do well and stay here. My colleagues in the professional schools are more likely to go through what you are describing, but even then, I’ve never worked anywhere where there was a guarantee of employment after contract OR the ability to fire without cause. But my institution can refuse to renew my multi-year contract at any time. So I feel no more job security than I ever have.

By: quixote Mon, 31 Aug 2009 16:53:18 +0000 I couldn’t disagree more re the assertion that tenure is just one of many stages. Only a tenured professor would say that, and one with a rather short memory, to boot.

Anybody who’s paid attention in an academic department can pick out the untenured faculty. They’re the ones who never object to anything and who do anything they’re asked to do even if it means getting less than four hours of sleep a night.

That changes after tenure. Certainly, people then have further goals, but they can no longer be fired as easily as an illegal day laborer. Don’t tell me that’s not a huge difference.

By: Clio Bluestocking Sun, 30 Aug 2009 19:08:52 +0000 Katherine, thanks! Maybe that’s why I can’t find any information.

By: Katherine Sun, 30 Aug 2009 17:00:14 +0000 Clio, I was a graduate student/TA at Berkeley in the 80s, and we didn’t do evaluations instead of grades. But UC Santa Cruz has a long history of doing that — I think they still do. Perhaps the students you met were from there?


By: Clio Bluestocking Sun, 30 Aug 2009 12:11:25 +0000 ADM, we can wholly agree on both of these point. Rubrics actually helped my grading, too, making it both faster and more uniform and therefore fair. I also figured a way to work in an indication that, if they do the bare minimum, they receive the score of x, the quality of their answer will move them up or down from x. That quelled much of the “but I turned it in, where’s my A?” protests because they could figure out what I was looking for much more easily.

On the other point, I remember in grad school realizing that this, what I was doing at that moment in trying to write a dissertation, and teaching a full-time load scattered across three institutions, and having to show up for whatever meetings or job talks were requires was exactly what the rest of my life would be. Somehow, I had slipped into the thinking that, once I had graduated, life would be easier (provided I found a job). Then, I realized. Maybe some of the benefits and privleges would be better, like having more job security or simply health insurace, but the work was the same, I’d just be working toward tenure, and after tenure, someething else. So, I had to love the work itself and not just do it for the supposed goal. The goal was to be employed doing something that I loved so that I could continue to do what I loved to do. Sure, I complain — a LOT — but I wouldn’t trade what I do for the world; and I don’t even get tenure where I am.

Now, on the grading, I have a question because I can’t find much on it: I remember, way back in the 1980s, meeting students who had gone to Berkley. They said that, there, they hadn’t received grades, but evaluations. Has anyone heard of that?

By: dance Sun, 30 Aug 2009 03:49:33 +0000 Thanks for the link and commentary, Historiann!

Re my Enhanced Grading idea—Ruth, actually, it’s not a rubric. Or that is, it’s a rubric for the entire university, and would *only* work if institutionalized and is really only valuable in the aggregate—eg, the student whose transcripts shows a very high average across many classes for “generated original ideas” but yet has C and D grades—well, that communicates a lot more than just a GPA, and maybe the animation studio wants to hire that person over the A student. It was a response to the “no one knows what a A means! A’s mean nothing! every professor has different criteria for an A!” critique as linked/discussed here:

I posted it via Academic Cog because I thought it offered some brainstorming on how the university might quantify/communicate the more qualitative things that we do….I am unfortunately not as allergic to Taylorization as I probably ought to be.

Janice, I will have to ponder using it in individual classes. Had not even thought of that. Sounds like it would work better if it were a “check box if student is exceptional” rather than rating each student.

By: Another Damned Medievalist Sat, 29 Aug 2009 23:02:12 +0000 I use rubrics … ones that show what skills I’m looking for, e.g., supporting an argument with specific evidence from primary sources. I find that my grading is more consistent, although sometimes I find a really well-written that doesn’t necessarily follow the rubric, and then I have to look at the assignment, and then the rubric, and then the essay, and ask myself if I really created an assignment that asked for what I was looking for. And usually? it’s a well-written essay that doesn’t actually answer the question I asked.

Will be writing that post tomorrow, as my team lost today and I shall be drowning my sorrows hanging out with a colleague!

By: Ruth Sat, 29 Aug 2009 22:47:14 +0000 The “multi-part grading system” is very much akin to what high school teachers know as a rubric. I use one for grading student writing at intro level and encourage my TAs to do the same. It can make grading both quicker and clearer. It’s basically a grid: on one axis are areas that we grade: thesis, argument, organization, evidence, writing–this might vary depending on the paper) and on the other axis are letter grades. Then, in each box of the grid, is what you have to do to get that grade. For example: under “Evidence,” A = “Argument supported with textual evidence, clearly explained”; B = “Much of argument supported with evidence; much of evidence clearly explained”; C = “Some use of evidence, clearly explained”; D = “Some evidence,” F = “No evidence or only misused evidence.”

This rubric is distributed to the students in advance, so they know what I am looking for. Then when I grade a paper, I attach a copy, with the appropriate box in each column circled. This does not replace individual comments on the paper, of course, but it replaces the generic ones. I find that it saves time and means fewer students asking “Why did I get this grade?”

We don’t do it with course grades, but I don’t think it would be especially time-consuming if it did. Especially as we now enter grades on line, there could be a drop-down menu for each student on each issue. It would provide more information than a grade, and would be a lot more useful than a lot of the hoops that faculty have to jump through.