Monday, March 05, 2007

Professors - little more wisdom from Mom

My family was over at my parents house for dinner last night (my Father's Birthday was last week, so if you are in Neckers, wish him a happy one). My Mother told me that she was reading the blog and thought the comments I have been getting from professors was unusual.

Her comment was that it seems that I write about something that a professors has never seen at SIU, some immediately reject it, because they haven't experienced it themselves. I guess that behavior is pretty illogical. You guys know that just because you haven't seen it, doesn't make it untrue?

Since our society has fractured into segments, it is interesting to look at the difference between the radical ends of the spectrum. On one side you have the "born again" crowd, they need no data to believe in things (you could even say that the less data the better). On the other hand, you have professors, who need all the data from their own experiments to be in front of them, to believe in anything. Then you have all the rest of us, somewhere in the middle.

I can tell you that having a President who is a prototypical "born again" isn't working very well. He doesn't care about data, he just believes and acts. I'm fairly sure I wouldn't want most professors to run anything either, they need way more data to act then you can practically accumulate in a reasonable time frame.

I wonder as SIU has slid down in performance, the hiring practices is bring in more of these radical unbelievers? Kind of the way that the Bay Area accumulates Asperger kids? Kind of like the way that "born again" churches find the people who need that form of reenforcement?

There are several stories floating around of departments purposely hiring professors who have much worse resumes, because they "will fit in better." Surely, the hiring of someone with one paper, instead of the candidate with 15 papers and a NSF grant is a sign of madness and failure. If you are in SIU management, it might be time to look into your hiring practices and figure out if you are going to fail because of that one little detail?

Your comments are welcome, unless you are the fellow that is going to research management pressure on grades, that guy is only welcome back after doing his homework.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Her comment was that it seems that I write about something that a professors has never seen at SIU, some immediately reject it, because they haven't experienced it themselves. I guess that behavior is pretty illogical. You guys know that just because you haven't seen it, doesn't make it untrue?

No offense to your mother, but its less logical to take one or two stories and assume its university policy. I've never suggested that it can't or doesn't happen. I've bristled at the suggestion that the university systematically is trying to inflate grades on purpose. If that were true, my rather extensive interactions at the university would've turned at least one example up. Basic scientific method -- you can't generalize a truth from one positive case, but you can disprove it with a number of negative cases.

There are several stories floating around of departments purposely hiring professors who have much worse resumes, because they "will fit in better." Surely, the hiring of someone with one paper, instead of the candidate with 15 papers and a NSF grant is a sign of madness and failure. If you are in SIU management, it might be time to look into your hiring practices and figure out if you are going to fail because of that one little detail?

This most certainly happens, in part because some departments get tired of watching the good people leave as the university fails to pay them adequately. I've seen the administration take steps to rectify this situation, but they're not there yet.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Your mistake is that you don't understand that written policy is a very small part of how humans interact at work. When management starts to give raised based on some kind of behavior, people will start to adapt their objectives to get that money. I know you don't believe this from your other comments, but it is true. Is there a manual that says, "at SIU we reward people for giving away grades?" No. Is it true that everyone knows that giving away grades is good for your career at SIU, well yes. Everyone but you, I guess.

Good point on the hiring. Seems kind of fatalistic and sad, but good point.

Grim Reaper said...

Now as someone who might want to donate someday, why the hell would I in my right mind want to donate to an organization that hires the clown with the one paper?

Ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

Do we really know if the "clown with the one paper" is the one who was hired. The post says that was a "story," "floating around one of the departments." So in my mind, it probably ain't true.

Buddy, if I believed in every story that was circulated around any given department at SIU, I'd probably be in serious trouble. So would you.

Why do people just give instant credibility to these "urban legends?" I'm gonna start posting my own stories and see where that gets us. Man, its open season on the Peter Gregory Blog. Send in your stories and see what gets published and who believes what's said.

Scott McClurg said...

"Your mistake is that you don't understand that written policy is a very small part of how humans interact at work. When management starts to give raised based on some kind of behavior, people will start to adapt their objectives to get that money. I know you don't believe this from your other comments, but it is true. Is there a manual that says, "at SIU we reward people for giving away grades?" No. Is it true that everyone knows that giving away grades is good for your career at SIU, well yes. Everyone but you, I guess."

That isn't at all what anonymous said/meant. S/he suggested the observation was based on a bunch of interactions, not a reading of written policy.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Scott, we will have to agree to disagree here. Once management makes it clear what they want through giving more money, it quickly and easily goes through any organization. He did clearly write about written policy and I'm writing about reality.

You aren't going to use your real name and then tell us that SIU isn't rewarding people with money based on student evaluations are you? I'm going to have to call you foolish and unrealistic if you are.

Scott McClurg said...

Call me foolish if you want, but in my experience my research weighs more heavily in evaluations and my teaching is evaluated on more than just evaluations.

Peter in Carbondale said...

It isn't that you are foolish, it is that you are above average or fortunate or both. Good for you to be trying to do great things and holding your own standards. You are lucky to be a department that doesn't do things that way. Every place has corporate culture and every subgroup has a culture of their own. Feel lucky and figure out how to keep it going.

Bother you at all that this isn't universally true at SIU? You have seen the yearly student retention memo, what does that mean?

Gotta run off to the gym and work, later.

Anonymous said...

Does Tenure Really Work?

http://chronicle.com/free/v53/i27/27b01601.htm