Building Accountability into Your Teaching

Not so long ago, the culture of higher education was perceived from both inside and outside as isolated from the rest of society. Academic freedom empowered professors to pursue their interests, more or less immune from checks and balances. In more recent years however, the perceived distance between the "ivory tower" and an array of external stakeholders has narrowed dramatically. The universal acceptance of a college degree as a "ticket to upward mobility" has fostered increased participation, and invited consumerism, increased external involvement in institutional decision-making, and increased demands for "institutional effectiveness." While some professors "dig in their heels" to resist, the reform movement seems to be winning over the populace.

The core issues tend to focus on improved student retention, program/degree completion, and "customer" service. Those of us who merit in the accountability movement know full well that ultimately faculty members will decide its success. And while many resistors claim that increased accountability must lead to lowered standards, we disagree. True accountability is achieved only through holding students to higher standards, and requiring them to accept increased responsibility for their own learning. Within this context, achieving improved accountability requires professors to:

  • embrace the vision that each student has potential worth developing;
  • actively discover some of the key strengths and limitations of each student;
  • build richer relationships with students;
  • employ methods that are a better fit for students' learning styles;
  • regularly and genuinely assess their success in fostering student learning;
  • manage the key student retention mileposts of the term: the first class meeting, the first exam or major assignment, the mid-term let down, and the final class meeting;
  • employ technology with "emotional intelligence" to foster grounded learning.

Integrating accountability requires the dedicated professor to attend not only to growth within the given discipline area, but as a facilitator of learning. As you launch your new academic year, why not decide to increase your level of accountability? Your students will be more successful, and your personal rewards will grow dramatically. Throughout this academic year, we will provide an array of suggestions at this website that will improve your ability to orchestrate this type of success!

Shop on line at Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble to get your copy of Dr. Lyons' book, The Adjunct Professor's Guide to Success: Surviving and Thriving in the College Classroom.

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