Monday, October 20, 2008

Need ideas, how can finishing my dissertation make me a better instructor?

Hello Internets,

I need some ideas --- My sabbatical application is due pretty soon. I'd like to spend the time finishing my dissertation. It seems intuitively obvious that this is a good way to spend a sabbatical. My dean doesn't seem to think so.

I'm kind of in a vicious circle -- I need to justify my sabbatical by answering the question of how my sabbatical will make me a better instructor and how it will facilitate student learning.

Since I don't HAVE a PhD, I'm not sure what the answer would be --- just making them call me 'Dr. Philosophy Factory' isn't sufficient. I can't exactly tell them from experience... thus, the need for a sabbatical to finish.


Debbie said...

Well, I'm thinking that at least some of your analysis, and definitely your implications, apply to contemporary world affairs, right? Given that, there's lots of good Deweyan stuff about helping students connect theoretical material with their own experiences - I would think that the research involved in completing your diss will give you a whole new perspective - and lots of specific examples - to help your students understand complex ethical situations.

Feel free to get in touch if this sounds potentially promising :).

julie said...

1) make you empathetic about the writing assignments your students undertake
2) demonstrate an up-to-dateness in your discipline that you can then bring to the classroom (philosophy is a live thing, really, kids!)
3) provide the opportunity to hone your class lectures by honing your writing skills
4) keep you thinking about your discipline first while you're on sabbatical (it is a rest, after all) so that when you come back after sabbatical you'll think of your students first

These are only partially tongue-in-cheek.

Dr. Crazy said...

Ok, some things that I think made me a better instructor once I finished:

1) The ability to focus all of my energies and expertise on my students, and to more explicitly connect my research life to my teaching life.

2) I'm a better recommender for students who need recommendations for xfer applications, non-institutional scholarships, etc. The fact of the matter is, 4-year unis trade in terminal degrees and a letter from a PhD means more than one from an MA, whatever that MA's experience.

Other than that, here's a question: Is there any way that you could say that your next project after finishing is adapting a chapter into an article that is actually about teaching? Throw out the carrot that those kinds of exciting projects will have to be on hold indefinitely until the diss is done?

I'm not sure how useful any of the above is, but those were the things that came to mind. Otherwise, I'd say lie and get a sabbatical for course development stuff or something but use it to finish the diss anyway, which is sneaky and wrong, but if anybody deserves a sabbatical it's you!