Miami, FL

Female, 33

As a tenure-track member of a university faculty, I’m one part teaching, one part research. Teaching-to-research ratios vary from school to school. At a research-focused school, professors are judged largely on their research productivity – the # of journal articles, chapters, and books they publish, as well as the prestige of the publications. At a “balanced” school, professors are required to teach more and have less rigid research requirements. Ask me anything about being a college professor.

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22 Questions


Last Answer on May 17, 2012

Best Rated

Are you big on cold-calling, i.e. choosing students at random to answer questions with no forewarning?

Asked by Bailey over 12 years ago

This really depends on the field of study, the school, and even the individual professor. For me, I try and use some variation of cold-calling to keep students engaged. I try not to just lecture but make the class a bit more of a conversation. So I may cold call when the answer is easy in hopes of using this to keep students listening and included in the dialogue. It is a good technique if a professor wants to ensure that students have prepared for class. But another technique is simply to have class participation be a significant portion of the students’ grade. But this is easier to do in smaller classes.

Is the whole "Publish or Perish" thing really the case for professors? Or is that exaggerated?

Asked by Gator77 over 12 years ago

This really depends on the university and where its focus is. All schools care about the caliber of teaching. However at the research-focused ones it is significantly less important and can factor very little into whether a professor keeps his or her job. How can this be corrected? First thing is people should want it to be corrected and the majority do not. Most professors at research-focused schools got into the profession because they enjoy the research side of things and are less interested in the teaching. This means that they are not motivated to change things. The universities are also judged by their productivity as well as their teaching ratings. So everyone’s incentives are aligned with a focus on research.

As a younger professor, do you ever find it challenging to command students' respect?

Asked by Kenneth over 12 years ago

Younger professors, in general, do have a harder time and very often find students questioning their knowledge and ability. This is particularly true when teaching graduate students and in particular those in pre-professional programs (MBA, law).

How do you keep students engaged?

Asked by LexingtonTeacher over 12 years ago

Teaching in this age of short attention spans means that I try to change what I am doing in the class approximately every 15 minutes. I try not to make the entire class one long lecture. So I may start off with a youtube clip of the news discussing something relevant to the topic at hand, then lecture for a bit, and then have a discussion/debate about one point. If it is a topic that, for some reason, requires me to predominantly lecture I, at least, try and change the format throughout the course of the class – e.g. use power point for part, then do a bit of it more free-form. Using real-world examples that students are aware of and are interested in is also a very good technique to help make the material relevant. But the ability to do this, of course, depends on the course being taught.

What are the best and worst parts of being a professor?

Asked by Jasminaut over 12 years ago

The best part of being a professor is that, particularly at a research-focused school, you really feel like your own boss. You have an incredible amount of independence in terms of when you work, how much you work, and even what you work on. At the end of the day really all that matters is that you publish in top journals. But this is not an easy task. There are very few journals and everyone in the field in every university in the world is trying to publish in them. So there is a lot of pressure and with this freedom comes the feeling that the work is never done and there is always something you should be working on. I have been told that the job of an assistant professor in my field is a 6 day-a-week job because that is the amount of time one should be putting in to get tenure. Moreover it is a profession with very little feedback on your work and most of it tends to be negative. So it is not a job for people who need constant assurance, pats on the back, or a great deal of guidance. None of that is really available.

What's the typical salary range for professors?

Asked by DollaDolla over 12 years ago

There’s an enormous range so I hesitate to answer this. The range varies across universities with private schools tending to offer higher salaries, but also across departments. Salaries are usually for 9 months with some universities offering additional summer support of about 2/9ths of the 9-month salary. Then, again depending on the area and the school, salaries may also include a research budget that may cover anything from computers, equipment, programs or data needed, travel, and conference fees.

As a professor, how do you prevent cheating and plagiarism given the amount of content available online?

Asked by serfolk over 12 years ago

There are programs available that can exam papers and compare them to available content online. I have never used these. I allow my students to use any online content as long as they cite it. Professors are also increasingly using in-class writing assignments where they can be assured that no outside resources are being used. At the very least this provides a baseline of writing style/ability against which other assignments can be compared.