The Chronicle of Higher Education
November 13th, 2014
Professors have long made assumptions about their place in the classroom.
They have seen themselves as the experts whose job is to transmit a
body of knowledge, typically through a lecture. Students are there to
absorb content. If they fail, it’s their fault.
The lecture hall expresses that dynamic physically. Seats—sometimes
hundreds of them—are arranged in raked rows facing a spot for the
professor who, like the featured act in a show, is the only one in the
room doing anything worth paying attention to.
After years of exhortations for faculty members to become guides on
the side instead of sages on stage, those assumptions are shifting, and
they carry consequences that could be significant for professors and
"Nationally, we’re seeing more of a move to student-centered
teaching," said Kevin Eagan, an assistant professor in residence at the
University of California at Los Angeles. He is also interim managing
director of the Higher Education Research Institute, which produces a
triennial faculty survey that was released on Thursday.