Nevertheless, simply allowing grad students to serve as largely unsupervised teaching assistants, or creating centers where they can receive a brief orientation or a few voluntary sessions on teaching, will not adequately equip them for a career in the classroom.
A more substantial preparation is required and will become ever more necessary as the body of relevant knowledge continues to grow.
With all the talk in graduate school circles about preparing doctoral students for jobs outside academe, one has to wonder why departments spend time readying Ph. candidates for entirely different careers before they have developed adequate programs for the academic posts that graduate schools are supposed to serve, and that most of their students continue to occupy.
Many departments may fail to provide such instruction because they lack faculty with necessary knowledge, but provosts and deans could enlist competent teachers for such instruction from elsewhere in the university, although they may hesitate to do so, given than graduate education has always been the exclusive domain of the departments.
Enterprising donors might consider giving grants to graduate schools or departments willing to make the necessary reforms.
If even a few leading universities responded to such an invitation, others would probably follow suit. The seeds of such a change already exist through the proliferation of instructors who are not on the tenure track but are hired on a year-to- year basis or a somewhat longer term to teach basic undergraduate courses.
Aspiring college instructors also need to know much more now in order to teach effectively.
A large and increasing body of useful knowledge has accumulated about learning and pedagogy, as well as the design and effectiveness of alternative methods of instruction.
By concentrating so heavily on graduation rates and attainment levels, policy makers are ignoring danger signs that the amount that students learn in college may have declined over the past few decades and could well continue to do so in the years to come.
The reasons for concern include: While some college leaders are making serious efforts to improve the quality of teaching, many others seem content with their existing programs.