S4xE3: What is in a Teaching Faculty Job Title?

March 4, 2024
S4xE3: What is in a Teaching Faculty Job Title?

Episode Summary

In this episode, we talk with Professor Adam Blank, Teaching Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences at Caltech. Our conversation focuses on college teaching faculty that only have a master’s degree by discussing how the job title should be about a person’s skills and knowledge, as opposed to the degrees they hold. We start off by defining terms, then move on to what a teaching faculty actually does and needs to know to do the job and how a Ph.D. is a proxy for signals that could be seen with different evidence.

You can also download this episode directly.

Episode Notes

PIER program at Carnegie Mellon University


[00:00] Kristin: Hello and welcome to the CS-Ed podcast. A podcast where we talk about teaching computer science with computer science educators. I am your host, Kristin Stephens-Martinez, an Assistant Professor of the Practice at Duke University, and I use she/her pronouns. Joining me today is Professor Adam Blank, Teaching Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences at Caltech. We are going to discuss teaching faculty with only a master’s degree. Adam, thank you so much for coming on the podcast!

[00:27] Adam: Thank you for having me, Kristin.

[00:28] Kristin: So, Adam, first, I’d like to ask, how did you get to where you are today? Given our topic. I think just answering that will help set some of the stage for this episode.

[00:38] Adam: Yeah, sounds great. So, I’m Adam Blank. I use they/them pronouns and as most of us, I think, my path has been pretty weird to get here. So, I started in undergrad TAing a lot and realized that this was what I wanted to do. And between undergrad and grad, I was told basically, you need a Ph.D. There is no way to do this without a Ph.D. And I being the stubborn person that I am said, OK, but I don’t believe you. So, I started my Ph.D. at CMU, and partially through I realized that I was not really enjoying the research as much as the teaching, which I kind of already knew, but it confirmed it. I got kind of sick. I found out I had celiac disease at the time. And so as a result of that, I kind of was like, I can’t, I can’t do this right now. So, I took a summer to get better and decided not to go back. As a result of that, I also applied to other jobs and managed to get a lecturership at the University of Washington, where I was for four years. And after that, I moved to CalTech and I’ve been here five years now.

[01:42] Kristin: Awesome. So, you are going on nine years of teaching experience at this point.

[01:46] Adam: Yes. Plus technically one from the, from what I did during grad school if you count that.

[01:51] Kristin: Yes. And so I think that gives us some nice foundations for this topic. And I think the main thing I want to get out immediately is when you hear “master’s degree only teaching faculty,” people probably think of certain things just like I did when I first thought of this topic or was first discussing it with Adam. And I think what’s important to start with is defining our terms. And so I think, let’s start with, what do you mean by faculty? And then what do you mean by teaching faculty in this context?

[02:26] Adam: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, I think by faculty, what we mean is anyone who’s in a position of authority over students in a department. So, that includes teaching, that includes research mentorship. Because, as we’ve seen, there are multiple categories, right? We’re just talking about teaching faculty, but of course, there’s tenure faculty, research faculty, all kinds of other categories as well. So for teaching faculty, I would narrow that down a little bit and say, if like more than 60% of your duties are teaching, then your teaching faculty, which is actually interesting because it takes some of the people at liberal art schools who maybe not don’t consider themselves teaching faculty. And I would argue to an extent they really are.

[03:06] Kristin: So how does staff fall into that ecosystem? Because my first thought when you define faculty, like people who are in charge of students and like technically, some people that you would call staff also are in charge of students. So, how does that fit into this terminology?

[03:25] Adam: Right. So I think that’s the fuzzy part is that some departments will consider lecturers staff. And so it’s unclear how to make that boundary because there isn’t really one that’s consistent across schools. If you’re asking me what staff means and at my school it would mean administrative staff.

[03:44] Kristin: Yeah. OK. And, and I feel like this, we, we dove straight real fast right into definitions are hard.

[03:47] Adam: Sorry.

[03:48] Kristin: No, I think this is great. Like, it’s important to remind ourselves that even things that we consider cut and dry are not actually cut and dry, and definitions are often still fuzzy and messy once you like actually look at them under a microscope. And so, two other terms that we discussed, I think, that was good to define before we really get into a discussion is content knowledge versus pedagogical knowledge. So, would you like to define those two? And then we’ll dive more into the discussion about master’s degrees only teaching faculty.

[04:21] Adam: Yeah, sounds great. So, content knowledge is gonna be the thing that you basically learn in classes, right? And by classes, I mean, normal computer science classes, not ones about education which would delve into pedagogical knowledge, right?

[04:34] Kristin: Yes.

[04:35] Adam: Where you know, content is what you’re teaching and pedagogical knowledge is how you’re teaching it basically. You know, and, and again, I think there’s a boundary there that’s unclear because when you combine them into education-based classes, then you end up doing both at the same time. So, it’s also fuzzy definitions, but still, like, good to have.

[04:56] Kristin: Yeah. So could you give an example, though of the difference between content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge where, like a concept or a specific portion of a lecture?

[05:04] Adam: Yeah. Sure. So, one of my favorites is link lists. So, understanding kind of how to traverse a link list is gonna be content knowledge and then pedagogical knowledge is going to be what’s the best way to draw the link list on the whiteboard.

[05:18] Kristin: Ah, OK. I was totally expecting you to say something like what are ways that students struggle with learning linked lists but drawing the link list is also pedagogical knowledge. You’re right.

[05:31] Adam: Yes, yeah.

[05:33] Kristin: Interesting. OK. I like that. It was definitely like my brain didn’t go in the same direction, but I like it when that happens. So given we’ve defined our terms now, let’s dive into what is your argument around master’s degree-only teaching faculty?

[05:50] Adam: So I think it boils down to that we use degrees as a proxy for a lot of things, but they are always just a proxy, and there are ways to get the skills that you get from your degree by, for example, teaching for a while, right? And so my argument is just that, look, there are always special circumstances. Industry has figured this out. Google doesn’t necessarily only hire people with bachelors in CS, right? And so, while it’s kind of harder in academia because we’re so entrenched in our own institutions, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And you know, one other just pragmatic reason is there’s a shortage of teaching faculty and, you know, you, you can’t, you can’t kind of say, oh, there’s a shortage, we don’t want anyone and then somebody applies and you’re like, no, you’re not good enough because I said so. Right.

[06:41] Kristin: So, in your mind, what is the qualifications that a person should have to be qualified to be a teaching faculty?

[06:51] Adam: So, I think that depends on how much of a lecturer versus teaching professor they are.

[06:55] Kristin: Ah, OK, so let’s, yeah, let’s define what a teaching faculty does.

[06:59] Adam: So, depending on your definition, there’s always going to be a mix of teaching service and research. Most teaching faculty, to my understanding, the research is very limited, or it’s kind of like above 100%. So, like, if you want to do research, you can, but you’re not gonna be judged on it. There are exceptions to that. I think Kristin, you’re one of those exceptions, I believe, right?

[07:19] Kristin: I am one of those exceptions in the sense of like at Duke, the teaching faculty are expected to teach, service, and do other scholarly work. And so, like when you say scholarly work, it doesn’t necessarily just mean you do research. It could mean other things. In my case, I decided to go a bit overboard. Please don’t use me as a role model to aspire to because I feel like I do too much; in doing research and doing this outreach thing, like my podcast and stuff, and doing service way outside of Duke, such as working for the SIGCSE Technical Symposium. So, like, I think all of those things that I have done fall under scholarly work that my department kind of would count as like, yes, she’s doing more than just teaching. But I think a lot of that that’s not the case for many teaching faculty.

[08:08] Adam: Right. And yeah, and so just to use myself as an example, too, just to give you at least two. Research is completely optional for me. It’s above and beyond. And I take summer students and do research with them, but that’s pretty much the extent of what I do. That said for obviously I teach a lot, but I do a lot of service. Service is kind of my thing if you will. I would say I spend possibly more time doing service than teaching some weeks, actually. And so the idea here is if we’re gonna talk about teaching faculty, right? The difference is going to be you’re doing at least two of these significantly as opposed to you teach, go home, come back tomorrow, teach, go home, come back tomorrow, right? And, and that, that kind of cycle is, which is more or less what an adjunct is, right? To, to a certain extent. Is not what we would normally consider teaching faculty. So I think that’s the, the distinction here is, there’s at least two of three and you’re actually part of the department instead of just being someone who comes in and teaches their classes.

[09:07] Kristin: So, now that we’ve defined what teaching faculty is and the difference between a teaching faculty and what we’re going to call more, what lecturer do we want to use that word in this conversation to mean someone who is not teaching faculty?

[09:20] Adam: Yeah, we can say lecturer. There are other names for it. Like instructional staff, sometimes is what people use.

[09:25] Kristin: How about let’s use the word instructional staff. Because, like here at Duke, we have lecturers that I would call teaching faculty. I would not consider them just like a staff member that does stuff. They are, they are teaching faculty and are treated as faculty in our department. So, now that we’ve defined the difference between teaching faculty and instructional staff let’s go back to our prior question. Which was for a teaching faculty, how can someone be qualified for that position?

[09:51] Adam: So, I think this goes back to our definitions. You’re gonna need the last two that we talked about were content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge, right? And I think you need both to be qualified. I think that what’s interesting is you know, if you do a Ph.D. in I don’t know, I’m just gonna pick on a random discipline, machine learning. You’re not necessarily going to have that pedagogical knowledge, and we allow that to work anyway. So, if we’re talking about instructional staff, I see no real reason why we can’t make the same argument where you don’t have pedagogical knowledge yet. And that’s why you’re not faculty yet, but you are good enough because you did a master’s. You’ve taken classes, you’ve thought about classes, you’ve TAed classes. So, why not give you a shot, right? Why not give you a start to your career? And then the hope is that you gain that pedagogical knowledge through, actually working as opposed to, through the Ph.D., which you could get it either way. It doesn’t really matter. But my point is they’re effectively the same unless you choose not to. And then you can stay as instructional staff, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some people want that job just to be a job and then go home and then go do something else, and that’s, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you do end up deciding that you want to do something more, then at that point, going back to get the Ph.D. is almost ridiculous in my, in my head, right? Because you’ve, you’ve already gained that knowledge that you would get, and sure doing a Ph.D. is going to contribute to the literature, and that’s great. But that has nothing to do with your ability to be a teaching faculty.

[11:21] Kristin: I guess part of me, and this is me partially being extra, I know, is that I want to push back and say, but you could still go and get the Ph.D. It’s just going to be in like computer science education. So, then you’re trained in how to be able to conduct research in your discipline. The thing that you are most interested in which is computer science education. While at the same time, I acknowledge that not everyone wants to do that. And there is a difference between wanting to create more knowledge versus just consuming it and being able to apply it. And there’s this fine line where some people will argue. And I kind of agree with this argument that you will not be able to as easily or quickly judge if research is any good unless you have done it yourself.

[12:09] Adam: Oh, I think that’s totally valid. But, but here, here’s, here’s my counterpoint is that while you’re absolutely right that if you haven’t done research yourself, I don’t think you can, you’re, you’re qualified to judge it that has no impact on half of these teaching faculty jobs which have no research component.

[12:25] Kristin: That’s true. I guess you don’t really need to be up-to-date on the latest research. You can wait till someone translates it into like a teaching handbook or something.

[12:33] Adam: And, and I’m not saying people should do that. But I am saying that there’s a, there’s a almost a fine line between what’s necessary and what’s, you know, like when, when you look at job ads. There’s always the requirements and then the nice to haves. Right. And this is very clearly, at least a nice to have. There’s no way around that, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it should be a requirement. That’s my point.

[12:55] Kristin: I can see that, and I definitely agree that we are using degrees as a proxy for something, and potentially, now is the time to start stepping back and asking ourselves, is that still a useful proxy versus potentially writing things out in a different way. So, given that, I’m going to pivot us for a bit and point out that because I’m sitting here now imagining the faculty meeting where you potentially going to pitch, “What if we change the degree requirement to master’s degree and put under optional Ph.D.” like that’s not going to go well unless you have a good argument and you have other things to say potentially. So, what do you say differently? Because I think we both are on the same page and that we don’t think someone straight out of a master’s program is qualified to be a teaching faculty unless they have something else.

[13:56] Adam: The short answer to this question is this just happened at one school, which I’m not gonna name out specifically. But they, they did actually have this vote and the way that the people who wanted it suggested it was, hey, look, we have these lecturers who are clearly doing as much as everyone else. And why can’t they be teaching professors and the faculty were like, yeah, you’re right. These people are really important. They’re integrated into the department already. They’re super good at what they do. That’s, it’s ridiculous that they can’t be the same level as everyone else. Right. And, and usually just seeing an example of someone who’s in this position with a master’s degree and no Ph.D. and has already risen to the level of the same like thing that a teaching professor is doing in that department usually creates a dissonance where it’s like, well, yeah, that doesn’t make any sense. Why are we doing that? And so that vote actually did pass.

[14:45] Kristin: OK. So, what about titles? Generally speaking, when you say someone is a professor, you can high probability assume that they have a Ph.D. and I suspect some people care about such titles. You, your title is professor even though you only have a master’s degree. So you’re kind of the opposite of that norm. How important is that? What’s your response to someone who basically trots that one out?

[15:07] Adam: So, it depends on who I’m talking to. If I’m talking to a teaching professor who trots that, that out, I would say, do you particularly enjoy being called a second-class citizen because you’re creating a third-class citizen when you do that? And so I would make the argument that, like we all know as teaching faculty what feeling like, I’m a second class is, and creating a third class is really not going to make things better, right? Of someone who is a full departmental member, right? You know, if, if, if we’re, if we’re saying creating a third class or somebody who’s teaching a class every once in a while, that’s completely different, right? Because in that sense, it is a different job, right? But, if we’re looking at two people that are doing more or less the same job, given some delta, calling them different things because someone has a degree and someone doesn’t, could be very strange. Right?

[15:59] Kristin: I think it’s interesting that the thing that you’re trying to get us all to focus on is what the job entails as opposed to what the requirements of the person that is doing the job. And that is, to some people, a subtle distinction, and to other people probably is glaringly obvious. And in academia, it’s one of these funny things where titles are actually more tied to what your pedigree is, in essence, rather than to what your job is. Setting aside, like, just focus, just focusing on like professor or that kind of title part, not me. Are you the director of whatever, whatever, or you’re like vice chair or whatever? Like those titles are actually like job titles. While, professor, and though in the, in the laddar ranking and all of that is more based on like, what you have done so far, what you have accomplished some set, probably it’s more like it’s based on a subset of the things that you have done so far.

[16:59] Adam: Yeah. And I think, I think, see you were, you’re trying very hard to say, not, you were trying very hard to not say what you’ve accomplished because that leads exactly into the, the, the job is what you do. Right. Like, if you, if you have accomplished, let’s say tons of service and you’re on like a bunch of senate committees or whatever, at that point, are you really all that different anyway? Right. Did you start out different? Of course. Right. I understand that everything starts off differently and we, we’ve already kind of made the baseline that I’m not necessarily saying someone should be a teaching professor immediately out of a master’s. In fact, I think I’m saying they probably shouldn’t be unless there’s extreme circumstances to choose some other reason. But that, you know, again, time can be spent in a lot of different ways, right? And if you spend it getting better at your craft and you spend it trying to understand how to do research and you do research with, let’s say, colleagues, right? Because we all, we all collaborate, right? They can actually somehow teach you the things that you’re missing from the Ph.D. But because you’re further advanced in your in your career, you can actually contribute other things like, oh, hey, I saw this in my classroom, maybe here’s a mechanism for why what we’re seeing is happening, right? And so there’s still this additional perspective that you can add that isn’t something you would have gotten from the Ph.D. Now, of course, the counterargument is OK. But then you should go get the Ph.D. with that extra expertise, and I understand that and some people have done that, right? But I think, my point is just that the opportunity cost of that once you’re in the middle of your career is very, very, very high.

[18:34] Kristin: At the same time, titles are useful? Matter? Probably a little bit of both. Because at least signals to others a probability field of who that person is and, what they do and what they have done. You mentioned that you don’t think someone straight out of a master’s degree should be a teaching faculty. Could you elaborate a bit more on that? Give some persona examples.

[18:58] Adam: Yeah. Yeah. I’m gonna use myself as an example. Right out of grad school, I would have told you I should be a teaching professor because I know everything, and that’s kind of the problem, right? When you’re very young, especially because you haven’t had that time to mature? You do kind of think, you know everything for the most part, not everyone but a lot of people, and it’s very, very hard to separate that from who you’re going to be as a teaching professor. And so if you’re actually giving someone that title, what you’re effectively saying is they are going to act like a normal departmental member, and somebody who’s really young may or may not be able to do that. And, and so I think myself, like it took me basically all of my time at UW to realize I didn’t know everything. And, and then, my second job, where I actually started as a lecturer as well because we didn’t even have teaching professor titles when I got here. Which was a whole other fight. But, then I would say I was actually finally ready to be like, yes, I know what, I don’t know. And that’s an important thing to be aware of if you’re going to be a functioning professional adult. Right. In a department.

[20:05] Kristin: Yeah. But it’s, it’s not just maturity, though, it’s also, as we said earlier, content knowledge versus pedagogical knowledge. Like when you finished your master’s degree, how much, like I’m assuming you had plenty of content knowledge because you have, you had a master’s degree in computer science. But, like, how much pedagogical knowledge did you have at that point?

[20:22] Adam: Right. So, my master’s degree was a thesis-based master’s degree. And so the thesis that I was writing was actually on pedagogy.

[20:29] Kristin: Oh, okay. So, you had extra.

[20:32] Adam: Yeah, exactly. Right. Yeah. And, and that, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Right. But even with that extra, looking back on 10 years ago, if I had gotten that teaching professor title, I don’t think in the current ecosystem that would have made sense. So, you know, if you asked me this five years ago, I would have told you adamantly that, no, I should have had this title from the beginning. It’s totally unfair. I hate everything. Right. But, but like, you know, over the time, there, there is a politics to it. It really does, as you said, matter. I think the my concern is that people are being blocked from this even once they’ve already proven themselves. I think that’s a problem.

[21:08] Kristin: Ok. So, in your mind, what would be the new promotion ladder is not quite the word, but probably the closest one for, for our, for the academic context. Because the only way, the way that you got your title, your, the professor title is partially you moved from one institution to another and then kind of argued your way there. It sounds like.

[21:32] Adam: Yes, but I was, I was assistant again at first. So, I went lecturer at UW, lecturer at CalTech, assistant teaching professor at CalTech, full teaching professor at CalTech.

[21:43] Kristin: And, and how many years were you in each title? And, and the reason why I’m asking is that, like, you know, there’s a difference between, like, we hired you at the bottom of the rung, but we’re gonna only give you a one-year clock, so you can just prove yourself and then we’ll get you up to the next rank like.

[21:58] Adam: And and that is basically what it was. So, four years at UW do as a lecturer. Interestingly, you do doesn’t have used lecturer titles very much anymore. Now, they use teaching professor titles. So you can actually do that with just the masters. There are several examples of that. And then at CalTech, I was a lecturer for, I think, one year as an assistant teaching professor for two, and I’ve been full for one now. I think one or two.

[22:22] Kristin: So, there’s no associate ranking in there?

[22:24] Adam: No, we don’t have an associate for it. Which is very strange. But also, I would have been associate instead of assistant if we had an associate rank. I don’t know if that makes sense.

[22:33] Kristin: No, I think it makes sense. You went up a rank, and for some reason, at CalTech, there’s no, it’s not a three-rank ladder. It’s a two-rank ladder,

[22:40] Adam: Yah, which is true to tenure track, too. Actually, it’s very strange

[22:43] Kristin: So, you mentioned people with master’s degrees only at UW that have the professor title immediately. Did they have a lot of pedagogical knowledge coming in?

[22:54] Adam: So, at least one of them did. Have years and years of high school teaching, years and years of working with teachers even. And then one of the other ones had something similar to me where there was a thesis that had a lot of pedagogical content in it. I think there may be one more now. I’m not really sure. It’s, it’s hard to keep track.

[23:14] Kristin: Yeah. I asked mainly because I don’t want to give false hope to someone who just has a master’s degree in computer science but no teaching experience, thinking that they could suddenly get the professor title, potentially.

[23:25] Adam: Oh, Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No, no, no. Both of these people had, like, at least eight TA experiences. Like, like, this is, this is not, this is not like you TAed once, and you’re like, oh, I wanna be a teaching professor now. That’s, that’s not how that works.

[23:37] Kristin: Yeah. And, you mentioned high school, which reminds me that like one of the things that I got myself past my initial “this makes no sense” is it’s reasonable to often think of someone who has a lot of high school experience getting a master’s degree and then teaching in a community college. So why does the idea of someone with only a master’s degree seem reasonable at a community college but not at a university when they have so much teaching experience already? And that was like my first way of getting past my initial “this makes no sense” in my brain. And part of it also, when I was talking to you more, was realizing that my definition of some of the terms was different than your definitions of the terms, which is why we started this whole episode with, let’s define our terms to make sure that we’re actually talking about the same thing because English and communication is hard and yeah, it’s important to make sure we are not talking past each other.

[24:35] Kristin: So I think the other thing that I want to talk about, and I feel like maybe I’m probably more alone in this one than most because I am this strange anomaly of I’m a teaching faculty, and I have a Ph.D., but my Ph.D. is in computer science education, and there’s not many of us who are like this. And for those that do have a Ph.D. in CS education, we’re split between academia and industry, and I’m doing air quotes because what is industry for that kind of Ph.D. And then you split the academics again by teaching versus research though that many of us who do research. So, I’m on this strange anomaly and my, one of my thoughts was, I don’t know if I want to share this space with you all, which I know was very selfish thought. It was a very selfish thought. And I identified it immediately as selfish. And then I asked myself like, no, that makes no sense. How do you share this space the way you should? And I don’t yet know. So in this conversation, I kind of want, help me out like, how does those, and I’m going to use Ph.D., but as a proxy, but I really mean is someone with a CS education research experience, share this space with you all, within the teaching faculty realm. Does that make sense? Is that a reasonable question?

[25:56] Adam: Sort of, I mean, I think it’s hard to answer because I think the answer is going to vary by the person you’re talking to. Right? So, like what I, what I would say to you, I think specifically is because you’re an anomaly, you should understand other anomalies if that makes sense. So, like the fact that, you know, I mean, we, we started this whole thing with, with what was my path, right? And I think the reason for that is because all of us have these weird paths, coming to our jobs, right? And so what about the, I think the question you need to ask yourself is what about the degree? Specifically, the degree means that my path is less valid than yours, right? Or, and I’m using me as a, again, a proxy for us, right? And, and I think, I think, as you pointed out a lot of that is just, well, I suffered through this. So you should too kind of thing. And I’m, I’m not, I’m not saying that’s your only reason, but I am saying that it’s, it’s surprisingly hard to separate that from the other reasons.

[26:56] Kristin: Yeah, I, I think like, and I don’t know how much this is me rationalizing versus it being a reasonable argument. And I, and probably in some ways, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to tell the super the exact difference is by doing a Ph.D. I committed multiple years to thinking about and learning about research processes, gaining a lot of knowledge about cognitive development and how people learn, and things that are important to understand when it comes to the process of learning that are not necessarily exactly about computer science education but help inform how I teach, how I learn how to teach better, how I do research. Like does that make sense? And someone with just a master’s degree and 10 years of experience will know more things than I do about certain things. And I will still be able to pull out things like, oh, that reminds me of this epistemological theory of how people go from having these beliefs about knowledge and how to know things versus these beliefs about knowledge and how to know things. And I can draw from that kind of background that I have to help me better understand how to teach a concept or how to help someone learn something.

[28:17] Adam: So, something I haven’t talked about that I maybe should have is I was, in addition, to being a CS Ph.D. candidate. I was also part of this PIER program at CMU. P I E R, PIER and the goal of that was to take those classes and learn those theories and do a practicum on those theories. And so I actually, I actually learned a lot of that stuff through people who were cognitive scientists and education people and, you know, people at the center for teaching and learning. And so my, I think my point is, yes, I think these are things that we should know, but there are multiple ways to get them. Right. And if you seek them out, then you can be equivalent, not, not equal, but equivalent, right?

[29:07] Kristin: Like I’m, I’m definitely, when I was pontificating about, like, this person with a master’s degree and 10 years of experience, I wasn’t picturing you. I was picturing the more probable person with a master’s degree, which is with a master’s degree in computer science, which is, they know a lot of, they have a lot of knowledge of how computer science is, can code up a storm or whatever, but they have no idea how someone learns anything.

[29:33] Adam: But see, I think that’s a problem and I think that’s exactly part of the experience that should be assessed and be required.

[29:40] Kristin: And I would more likely assume that someone with a master’s degree in 10 years of teaching would have at least some ideas about pedagogy without necessarily knowing all the theoretical background and all the theories from ed education and stuff.

[29:53] Adam: But I don’t see why they shouldn’t know that. Because a lot of schools have education, a lot of universities have education schools and you get free classes usually if you’re a faculty member. So why not take a few of them?

[30:06] Kristin: Yeah. Well, the comparing contrast I was going to make was someone with a master’s degree and 10 years of teaching experience is different than someone with a master’s degree and 10 years of industry experience. And so someone with, for example, then I could imagine that the person with 10 years of teaching experience would have that pedagogical knowledge. They sought it out, they went and took other classes or whatever, and they are definitely more qualified for an assistant or even potentially an associate teaching professor role or job title is probably a better way of putting it compared to someone who has a master’s degree and 10 years of industry experiencing building start-ups and apps and that kind of thing because they have a lot greater content knowledge. But their lack of pedagogical knowledge would make me think like they are still either a lecturer or more like an instructional staff person until they can show that they are able and want to be part of the faculty community. Is that the right word? Does that make sense?

[31:15] Adam: Yeah, what I think you’re effectively saying is like if you are going to switch roles. There should be a review, kind of like a tenure review. Right? To be like, yes, you actually have this pedagogical knowledge, you actually have this understanding beyond just I’m teaching my classes the way that I learned to code myself or something like that. Right. And, and I think that’s totally valid. Right. I don’t think anyone should get a new title without being assessed for that new title in some way. Right. And even, even when I went from a lecturer to assistant teaching professor here, there was a full review,

[31:52] Kristin: My brain is stuck on something that maybe is silly. And that I feel like though the job description rarely uses the word pedagogical knowledge.

[32:00] Adam: Yeah. I, I, I’ve seen a lot of newer ads say Ph.D. or equivalent experience including being an instructor of record X many times. There’s, there’s definitely some of those now. I think I saw one actually like yesterday. And I think what they’re trying to say is what we’re saying, right? They’re trying to say you have some kind of pedagogical knowledge, but they don’t quite know how to say it because the, as, as we pointed out, the terms and definitions are all wacky, right? Because nobody agrees with anyone else on these.

[32:33] Kristin: Yeah. Well, it’s also like pedagogical is, you know, that’s a big word that not everyone knows of in regular lexicon. So let’s do TL; DL, too long. Didn’t listen. What would you say is the most important thing you want our listeners to get out of our conversation?

[32:50] Adam: So, I think it’s the line that degrees are a proxy for knowledge, and they’re only a proxy for knowledge.

[32:57] Kristin: Ok. I think I will add to that in that you should more be looking at what the person will do in their job as opposed to the pedigree or degrees or things they have done in the past for deciding whether or not they are qualified for a job.

[33:17] Adam: Sure, yes, I agree with that.

[33:20] Kristin: Ok. And so, with that, thank you so much for joining us, Adam.

[33:23] Adam: Thank you for having me.

[33:24] Kristin: And this was the CS-Ed Podcast hosted by me, Kristin Stephens-Martinez. And remember teaching computer science is more than just knowing computer science, and I hope you found something useful for your teaching today.


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