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Specialization, Status, and Stigma: Teaching-Stream Roles in Research-Intensive Institutions.

UNIVERSITY TEACHING-STREAM JOBS that "unbundle" research from traditional faculty duties now make up a substantial minority of the academic positions at many institutions, including some of the largest (Bradshaw). While full-time teaching-intensive roles represent a significant improvement on casualized contract teaching, compared to research positions they are often marked by lower pay, a protracted path (if any) to tenure and promotion, and diminished status. By fostering more parallel professorial tracks, universities could address existing inequities, but the unequal status of research and teaching in research-intensive institutions means that faculty members who do not conduct research will not be viewed as scholars, perhaps not even, as a blunt colleague from another faculty noted in conversation, as "real professors."

Several recent studies have suggested that teaching-stream faculty are a financial necessity in an era of "massification" that has been accompanied by unpredictable provincial funding, leading to concerns about "the significant cost of ... using a comprehensive teacher-scholar model as the standard" for faculty employment (Gopaul et al. 58). But as Jamie Brownlee argues, these claims rely on the "shifting perspectives on the value of teaching and research" that have influenced the distribution of university resources, resulting in higher administrative budgets and enhanced investments in research and graduate education (46). In many universities, these changes have been accompanied by a reduction in faculty teaching load intended to spur research productivity: "twenty years ago, the norm in many faculties was 3 + 3," while "it is now closer to 2 + 2" (Clark et al. 17). Institutions have resorted to larger class sizes, online courses, increasing use of graduate student instructors, and, especially, dependence on contract faculty, the academic precariate. The rise of "just-in-time" hiring for teaching positions has had devastating consequences for aspiring academics since the 1970s. Governance and collegiality have also been eroded by the casualization of academic labour, with a shrinking proportion of the faculty available to serve on committees and mentor students, which has increased the workload of full-time faculty members.

While cost has been a key concern, teaching-stream positions have also been identified as a solution to the ethical and pragmatic problems of contingent academic labour. In The Humanities, Higher Education, and Academic Freedom, Michael Berube and Jennifer Ruth propose a parallel tenure track for teaching-focused faculty, reasoning that since "the overwhelming majority of faculty in the classroom are not being paid to do research" (130), regularizing teaching-stream roles will be a vast improvement, even if it does foster a "two-tier system" (131). Yet Berube and Ruth view these non-research positions as requiring a doctorate, arguing that it is the appropriate credential for tenurable members of the profession.

Even if they do hold PhDs, teaching-stream faculty members are likely to experience second-class status in their departments, which can manifest in exclusion from administrative roles and other forms of marginalization. Concentration of teaching-stream faculty in first-year and service teaching, common at many institutions, can discourage research faculty participation in lower-division courses, creating increasingly bifurcated faculty duties. Leslie Sanders suggests that without efforts to raise the status of teaching, teaching-only faculty will experience significant professional disadvantages; further, "if they are confined to introductory courses, their relation to their field could soon atrophy" (4), threatening even their pedagogical effectiveness.

Ensuring a satisfying career track for teaching-stream faculty includes crafting reasonable teaching loads and service expectations, as well as supporting the teaching-related research that is a nominal but crucial part of positions. But this requires time, and some proposals for ensuring that teaching faculty can still publish are farfetched. Clark et al. call for teaching-only undergraduate universities in Ontario, with a faculty work load divided 80/10/10 between teaching, service, and scholarship related to teaching. Despite this minimal allocation, they maintain that "[c]onsistent with Aucc standards, the new university should expect academic staff to be engaged in independently peer-reviewed research and to publish in externally disseminated sources" (134).

Time pressures and role tensions were central features of the teaching-stream position I held in a highly-ranked research department. The university provided tenure only to Teaching Professors, a rank that required nationally or internationally recognized scholarship related to pedagogy and was achievable only after continuing contractual appointments over a minimum of eleven years. There were only a handful of Teaching Professors across the university, and many departments did not view the achievement of tenure and promotion for teaching-stream faculty as a priority or offer career development support by encouraging research leave--these faculty members were too desperately needed in the classroom. Teaching assignments were also problematic in some departments. Our collective agreement called for faculty to be evaluated in courses at different levels, but some positions, including my own, restricted teaching to first-year level only. While teaching eight first-year writing courses a year without grading assistance, I was reviewing upwards of a thousand pieces of writing per term, in part because first-year class sizes were increased at the same time that the department voted to move to a 2-2 load for research faculty. It was in the area of service responsibilities, however, that I viewed my position as most clearly violating the language of the collective agreement, which called for equitable distribution of duties across faculty members. While new research faculty were protected from onerous service obligations, teaching faculty had extensive responsibilities in the writing program because most of the teaching was carried out by contingent faculty members who could not help administer the program (although we solicited their unpaid labour for some committee service). My administrative responsibilities of several hundred hours a year, on top of the heavy teaching load, were more than I could manage. After developing work-related health issues, and having spent more than a year attempting to negotiate more reasonable work expectations for teaching-stream faculty, I resigned, disheartened by my inability to be the "workhorse" the writing program director identified as the ideal candidate for my job.

A March 2016 University Affairs profile of five teaching-stream faculty members presents a sunnier appraisal: all enjoyed varied course assignments, and several had held high-ranking administrative positions (Bowness). Stories on teaching faculty that appeared in The Globe and Mail in recent years also identify teaching faculty who have carved out manageable careers, although one includes the advice to publish, despite the fact that it is not rewarded (Chiose). Valorizing teaching, assessing how scholarship and teaching inform one another, and creating sustainable and varied teaching loads would improve teaching-stream positions.

Works Cited

Berube, Michael, and Jennifer Ruth. The Humanities, Higher Education, and Academic Freedom: Three Necessary Arguments. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Bowness, Suzanne. "Five Teaching-Stream Professors Tell Their Stories." University Affairs. 8 March 2016.

Bradshaw, James. "For a New Kind of Professor, Teaching Comes First." The Globe and Mail. 4 September 2013.

Brownlee, Jamie. Academia, Inc.: How Corporatization is Transforming Canadian Universities. Blackpoint: Fernwood Publishing, 2015.

Chiose, Simona. "Rise of the Teaching Class." The Globe and Mail. 6 October 2015. W

Clark, Ian D., David Trick, and Richard Van Loon. Academic Reform: Policy Options for Improving the Quality and Cost-Effectiveness of Undergraduate Education in Ontario. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's up, 2011.

Gopaul, Bryan, Glen A. Jones, Julian Weinrib, Amy Metcalfe, Donald Fisher, Yves Gingras, and Kjell Rubensen. "The Academic Profession in Canada: Perceptions of Canadian University Faculty about Research and Teaching." Canadian Journal of Higher Education 46.2 (2016): 55-77.

Sanders, Leslie. "Teaching-Stream Positions: Some Implications." Council of Ontario Universities. April 2011.

HEIDI TEIDEMANN DARROCH holds a doctorate from the University of Toronto and has taught Canadian studies, Canadian literature, and first-year English. She publishes on Canadian women writers and has articles on Munro accepted for inclusion in two book collections.
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Author:Darroch, Heidi Tiedemann
Publication:English Studies in Canada
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 1, 2017
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