Faculty and students gathered at 3 p.m. on April 30, in the Teaching, Learning and Professional Development Center (TLPDC) in the University Library to discuss what the teaching culture is like at Texas Tech.
The event titled, "Meeting of the Minds: Faculty and Student Views About the Teaching Culture at Texas Tech University," covered topics such as finding the balance between research and teaching and making sure students are learning.
Janice Killian, professor and chair of music education, said the point of this talk, organized by the Tech Teaching Academy, was to bring professors and students from different disciplines together.
“More than that, I think it was overall for professors to be able to listen to students," she said. "There was a lot that was exchanged and a lot of information that professors maybe wouldn’t get anywhere else.”
Listening to everything mentioned in the discussion, Killian said it appears the university has an atmosphere of teaching, but each area and each department or units can be vastly different.
“I think that this university is more involved in emphasizing teaching than many Tier One universities or research one universities," Killian said. "For instance, TLPDC is very strong here."
The TLDPC existing at Tech is a strength, she said. It has a lot of activities, which sets it apart from many universities.
Teachers at Tech also have to have some basis of research, she said. Those who are really good at teaching and emphasize it perhaps do not need to do research every day.
“The relationship between teaching and research, I don’t know that it has to be the same for every individual professor," she said. "There could be professors who research is the predominate part of what they do, and they should probably be teaching less.”
Gayle Jeffers, a Ph.D. candidate in bilingual education, said the Teaching, Learning and Professional Development Center is a positive aspect in regards to teaching culture at Tech.
However, there is need for improvement in some departments, she said, because there is a lot of focus on research over teaching.
“Research is great," Jeffers said. "I think that there has to be a combination between research and teaching in order to make it a good blend."
Also, certain colleges need to give students the opportunity to teach and have that experience if they are going to be professors and be successful, she said.
"This way, when students leave they’re able to feel more prepared to go into academia that’s year-round," she said.
Jaden Woods, a junior Spanish major, said the culture at Tech is too similar to the culture many students experienced in high school, a culture that is more competitive than collaborative.
This issue is more of a societal issue, Woods said. In the United States, people breed competition rather than collaboration and have more of a sense of ‘us versus them,' he said.
This issue is reflected in the teaching styles at Tech, he said, which makes it about the grade rather than about learning. It is unfortunate, he said, because more gets done when students and faculty work together.
“Hopefully the talk we had today will only be expanded,” Woods said. “In terms of student evaluations and communication between professors and students, I think that we need more events like this where we can get together and have an honest conversation.”