Teaching and Learning and Masters Degrees

Two things on my mind……….


Teaching and Learning

I have to confess that despite being very committed to my role as an educator, there has always been something about the whole ‘Teaching and Learning’ industry (for lack of a better word) that nags at me. Maybe it’s the impenetrable, pseudo-philosophical language that people working in that area tend to use. While I know many people who are admirably committed to the educational aspect of their job, and doing genuinely good work, there is still a little voice in me that wants to say all of this T&L stuff is overkill at best and simply covering up for students not applying themselves or simply being out of their depth. Or, it’s lecturers who have run out of steam on the research side and are innovating for innovation sake. (Validation, or lack of validation, of teaching innovations is a hobby horse of mine. ) Maybe it’s the word ‘teaching’. Is that an appropriate description of what we do or what we should be doing at third level?

Masters Degrees

The burgeoning Masters ‘industry’ needs to be carefully examined. For me, a Masters should involved advanced learning. There are programs out there that, in my view, should be called Graduate Diplomas rather than Masters. Sure, they broaden the student’s knowledge, but do they reach a level that is beyond the Bachelors level? I don’t think so. (In some cases, the initial ‘core’ modules can be well below even final year undergraduate standard. ) I think some clear guidelines/regulations on what is expected in a Masters qualification need to be articulated. They also need to be adhered to, something we tend not to do in our “Ah, sure it’ll be grand” culture.



About Greg Foley

A lecturer in Biotechnology in Dublin City University for more than 25 years. Trained as a Chemical Engineer in UCD (BE and PhD) and Cornell (MS). Does research on analysis and design of membrane filtration systems.
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4 Responses to Teaching and Learning and Masters Degrees

  1. Pingback: Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » Teaching and Learning and Masters Degrees

  2. Polly says:

    totally agree about Teaching and Learning; I want to reach for something sharp every time I hear it, and that’s because I suspect it of being a creation of both the problems you outline here. Also, they always have ring-fenced money for all sorts of (frequently nonsense) actitivities, while those of us who actually work in teaching departments don’t have tuppence to rub together. I’m often tempted, after one of *those* powerpoint presentations by Teaching and Learning people at a meeting, to ask when they last taught an actual subject, rather than messing about with methods of teaching? Yes, I’m very jaundiced indeed at T&L!

  3. cormac says:

    Another reason for skepticism is the number of academics who, having joined this field, quickly become acknowledged ‘experts’ in it, often at the level of a head of dept or school on the strength of a Masters in the subject. I don’t know any other subjects where this is possible..

  4. To paraphrase Homer Simpson “The problem is innovation…too much innovation”. A little analogy: Would you put a research engineer in charge of a manufacturing plant? Imagine what would happen? Now have you noticed that it is people who are primarily interested in research in T&L (including Learning Technologies where I am active myself) who are in charge of the development of T&L in their institutions. Now add to that the demand from graduates to get into research in T&L and the willingness of lecturers to supervise such research. “The problem is research…too much research”.

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