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 about 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 about 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 about 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 about 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 about 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 about 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 about 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.

How well do I need to know my professor to ask for a letter of recommendation?

Asked by Rj about 12 years ago

Most professors will say yes regardless. We all have a standard recommendation letter we use and then try to personalize it. A better review will come from a professor who knows you.

What credentials are required to become a professor?

Asked by Amanda about 12 years ago

A Ph.D. is absolutely necessary. There are some adjunct faculty or lecturers without one. But almost all tenure-track professors have the terminal degree.

Is there a solid camaraderie amongst professors at your school, or do they mainly keep to themselves?

Asked by Belindathegreat about 12 years ago

Research is a fairly solitary activity. At a more researched-focused school it may be the case that some professors don’t come to campus five days a week and/or go leave the college town for months at a time, particularly in the summer. That being said, for some professors one of the benefits and reasons to work on campus is in order to enjoy the company of others. There is certainly camaraderie across the field – at conferences and such. But on a daily basis it can be a fairly solitary career.

How much do professors care about their scores and reviews on professor ratings websites?

Asked by Operator999 about 12 years ago

If it's not related to the school we don't care at all. Ratings gathered by the school matter because this is what we are judged on in terms of keeping our jobs.

What's your school's policy on professor-student relationships?

Asked by Jaymee about 12 years ago

I wouldn't know because I'm not interested. But I suspect it's probably not a smooth move if I want to keep my job.

What drew you toward teaching?

Asked by SethT about 12 years ago

My path to becoming a professor was not the typical one. In my field virtually everyone getting a PhD is intending to become an academic. This was not necessarily the case with me. I had an idea of what I wanted to learn and a PhD in my field seemed the best way to learn this material. Then, once entering the world of academia and seeing what it was like, I found I really enjoyed it and so I decided to pursue an academic career.

Have you date (or would you date) other professors at your school?

Asked by bagger lance about 12 years ago

Hypothetically sure. In reality it hasn't happened and I would wager against it happening.

If you have a student who's just on the CUSP of getting a higher final grade, will you bump him up?

Asked by simon about 12 years ago

For me this comes down to if I think the student has really been trying or not. This is where it counts whether the student regularly comes to class, engages in discussion, etc. If they student gives me no reason to do this (doesn't show much motivation or effort) then I probably wouldn't.

Why are some professors so stuck up and big headed?

Asked by Buddy over 4 years ago


Why are some professors so stuck up and big headed?

Asked by Buddy over 4 years ago


what do you do when a student falls asleep in your class

Asked by mr m about 10 years ago


Is being a professor an overwhelming amount of work? Is it so much work you regret being professor?

Asked by Lorelai Marin over 1 year ago


Do you think students make good use of office hours, or is this a resource that gets squandered?

Asked by Maryanne AZ over 11 years ago


What is your take on Gorge Floyd?

Asked by Friend about 4 years ago


What do professors do during the summer?

Asked by Sonny Stark over 11 years ago