Tag Archives: Associate Professor

The Traditional Roles of Research Faculty

A warning from the beginning: The following is a traditional view of the role of faculty members as they progress through their careers – not necessarily the roles of faculty members at all research universities today. However, reviewing these traditional roles will provide a different way of viewing a professor’s primary role.

These are the roles as they were described to me as a new Assistant Professor. As a Professor, with almost 20 years behind me, I look back at the advice with great pleasure since it has served me well during my career. Would I give the same advice now?…well, yes with a few modernizing modifications.

Assistant Professor: The role of an Assistant professor is to publish. Everyone has heard
publish or perish. The refereed publication process is an opportunity for the Assistant professor to develop an area of research expertise and “make a name” for themselves in their larger field of expertise. While the measure of quality and quantity publications have vary from university to university, this is an expectation of the professorate that has remained unchanged. Does this mean that the traditional role ignored teaching and service? Absolutely not! Remain a good teacher, a good member of the university department, college, and university community while focusing on your publications. Research scholarship should dominate the workload of an Assistant Professor.11329822_10206097815381062_4184044876709455776_n


Associate Professors: The role of an Associate Professor is to serve. While gaining tenure, the future Associate Professor proved their value to the field, as a scholar, and began to lead their professional field. Service scholarship is distinguished in many ways to include chairing college and university committees and to serve in national leadership positions in professional associations. Associate Professors do not leave their research scholarship – but their primary emphasis is service scholarship leading to a national reputation. Service leadership expands the reputation of both their own scholarship and the reputation of their institution.

Full-Professor: The role of the Professor is to support. Grants and external funding provide an invaluable service to the institution and serve to support the scholarship of faculty within the institution. The reputation of a professor already established among their peers. They certainly continue to expand the reputation of their individual and institutional research, teaching and service scholarship, but their focus turn toward the support of the collegium. This support may be both in the form of monetary support, service leadership, and mentoring of colleagues.

Regents / Distinguished:  Mentor.  Build your space in scholarly community.

Teaching: The role of the faculty member as a teacher remains largely unchanged throughout the ranks. A professor is one who professes. At the heart of our profession is teaching. To move forward in the ranks of the professorate, teaching scholarship must be established and continuously improved during a career

The scholarship of teaching, research and service defines us as faculty at the university level.

The roles of each rank in the professorate blur as we continue. The roles of responsibility of each rank will further merge and become more complicated. Does is mean that we are wrong in today’s evaluation of the professorate? I remain skeptical, but hopeful.

Institution: University of North Texas, College of Information, Department of Learning Technologies

Position: Regents Professor and Director, Center for Knowledge Solutions

Note: I updated this from a previous writing in 2013.

Connecting Learning to Performance

Effective Training in Four Easy Steps


“Those who can do . . .those who can’t teach.” How many times have I hear that one? Never!

Teaching seems easy, until you have 40 students looking to you for “the information” that they want and need. Twenty-five years of teaching, and twenty years of teaching teachers,  has taught me that there are easier choices in life.   But few more rewarding!

Martial artist, soldier, ironworkers, police officers and other professionals enter the teaching/training field because someone thought enough of their previous experience to give them a chance.   Teachers/trainers stay in the professions because others value their information. The teachers/trainers that you personally remember in life valued the profession enough to not only train in their subject matter content area, but also in the delivery of the information.

The teaching methodology shown here today is based on the 4MAT system. This teaching system is well research and accommodates all learners.   The theoretical underpinning are solid, the method is simple.   What more can a teacher/trainer desire in a teaching methodology?

In this methodology, we “move around the clock” beginning at 12 o’clock:


It never fails a student interrupts my happy thoughts and ask, Why do I need to learn this?   The question that they are really wanting to ask: Why did you waste a valuable portion of my life teaching me this #)@&%)& stuff when I’m never going to encounter it outside of your made-up world.   Ah, the joys of teaching. Why fight it?

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First, and always, answer this basic question of yourself: Why am I teaching this to my student? The best strategy I have found to answering this question is to act as a motivator/witness/storyteller.   In the first step, tell a story; describe an instance that happened to you, happened to someone else, or an instance that might happen. Do your research. This provides a context for learning.   The learner can then answer the “Why?” question for themselves and can begin to learn from you without THE nagging question. As much as people say they want “THE ANSWER”, they always are ready for a good story!


You’ve now setup the student for learning. The next step is to provide the answers. The teacher/trainer is most comfortable delivering information. In technical training, the instructor has two types of information to provide: background information/theory and step-by step instructions. The instructor’s role in this step is simply as a teacher.   In step-by-step instruction, deliver one method for accomplishing the task at a time. This step provides students an opportunity to see the methodology modeled correctly.   If all learners understand the method provided, it is then time to provide optional steps as appropriate.


This step is easy! Practice! Practice! Practice!

Provide your students the opportunity to practice the methodology that is you have taught to them.   Your role is as coach/skilled-guide. All of us learn through trial and error.   It is now the student’s turn to take over the classroom responsibilities. Coaching good … Teaching bad.   It is the teacher’s job to fade into the background an only come out when their skilled opinion is needed.


Let students teach it to themselves. In this step, the teacher is reliant on self-discovery.   The teacher’s role is now transformed into an evaluator/remediator. This step is VERY often left out in the learning process and is the very important. Your clock is not yet complete without this step. In this step the teacher allows students to explore the newly taught materials. I personally learn a lot when student are exploring techniques.

In this step, the teacher is the person that then gets to ask “Why?”. This is a pleasant role reversal for the teacher and many students begin to better understand the learning process.

  The Cycle

But, I don’t have time to do this in my training…you ask too much! Of course you have enough time!   The time spent in each step is not important (10 seconds, 1 minute, 10 minutes). The fact that you have spent some time on each step is important.   I find that this process is largely subconscious in outstanding instructors.   Each of these steps should be used for every instructional session. Move around the clock with the four step and enjoy effective instruction.