Profs vs. pros

BOT 2-29

The YSU Board of Trustees reviewed preliminary plans for the Natural Gas and Water Resources Institute in its December meeting. On Tuesday, the board carried the motion for the plan’s formal approval at its meeting on March 14. Students can begin registering for the minor as early as fall. Jambar file photo.


Throughout the classrooms on campus, someone without a teaching degree may be teaching Youngstown State University students.

They’re business professionals, instead. 

Martin Abraham, dean of the YSU College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, said most of his faculty members do not have teaching degrees. 

“In the STEM college, we mostly hire faculty who have Ph.D.s in their academic disciplines,” Abraham said. “They are content experts, with very deep knowledge of their field.”

Abraham said he thinks the blend of professors and professionals is beneficial to students. 

“Having a mix of these types of faculty allows the student to understand the breadth of opportunities needed to succeed,” Abraham said. 

He added that the mix of faculty also allows students to get a good sense of jobs in theory, and how they are applied in the job setting. 

Most professionals teaching on campus are part-time faculty who are employed full time in their fields. 

Abraham said they’re brought onto staff mainly because the university is hoping to prepare students to work in their prospective field.

“Who knows the work environment better than the people who are actually in it every day?” Abraham said. 

Shearle Furnish, dean of the YSU College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, said a Ph.D. or an education degree shouldn’t necessarily be thought of as a teaching degree. 

“Ph.D. programs do not innately or directly prepare teachers,” Furnish said. 

Furnish added, however, that knowing how to do a job and knowing how to teach can present issues. 

Senior Stephanie Rozzo said she thinks that it’s wonderful to have professors who have worked in the field at the head of the classroom, but believes it would benefit students and the instructor equally to have a level of prior training. 

“As a music education major, I think there should be some sort of educational psychology class for them to take first,” Rozzo said. 

She said that learning the psychology of teaching is imperative to being an educator. 

“I think there is a very big difference between knowing the content and teaching it,” Rozzo said. 

Furnish said teacher development happens as teachers gain experience in the classroom. 

“Nothing limits a practitioner’s ability to develop as a teacher, even if the pace of development may or may not be different,” Furnish said.

1 comments Anonymous Tue Mar 6 2012 12:28 With some exceptions, University faculty do not have “teaching degrees”. They are academics who hold terminal degrees, usually doctorates or certain masters. They learn to teach as graduate teaching assistants, and by observation, and dedicated practice. The distinction being made here is between those who have chosen the academic path of research, publishing and teaching full-time, and those who work full-time in their fields (as scientists, artists, teachers and in business, law, etc.) and bring that experience to the classroom part-time. There is no question that there are varying levels of teaching ability and talent in both groups. There is also no question that it is the full-time faculty who bring growth and continuity to the University as a whole.