8 March 2017 • By Ruben Kofman
Support for new teachers needs improvement
New lecturers do not receive the right support and lose their motivation to stay on at a university of applied sciences too quickly. The General Council had to conclude that this also happens at THUAS during their meeting in December. Zestor wants to do something about this problem by organising a competition that will award two prizes of €3,000 to each winner.
More about the competition later. First, what kind of support are new lecturers receiving at THUAS? In December, the General Council had put the subject of ‘new lecturers’ on the agenda for their meeting with the Executive Board. It was a subject not expected to generate immediate decisions, but more of an informal discussion. Even so, this open exchange of views sometimes turned a bit hostile.
Both lecturers and students lodged some significant complaints. New lecturers are poorly facilitated, have very little teaching experience, and are not sufficiently supported and assisted. These lecturers are also frequently scheduled for teaching duties so that lecturers who have been at THUAS longer can engage in developmental responsibilities. ‘The new lecturer’s fresh perspective soon disappears,’ remarked one General Council member.
The Executive Board acknowledged some of the complaints: it sometimes takes too long to get an account, and, thus, an e-mail address. This also goes for the Campus Card. Executive Board member Jan Lintsen also indicated that the underlying identity management was much too cumbersome: ‘This is a priority for Facilities & IT and will have to be improved soon.’
Everyone agreed that an effective introduction programme for new lecturers is essential. But why isn’t this available? New lecturers have a lot on their plates: becoming acquainted with the school, finding out who to contact for what, preparing their lesson plans, and becoming familiar with Osiris and Blackboard. And not only that: they are frequently being scheduled for teaching duties so that lecturers who have been here longer are released for other duties such as developing a new curriculum.
Also discussed was the possibility of a longer introduction period and giving new lecturers more support. ‘It’s a matter of teamwork,’ said Leonard Geluk, President of the Executive Board, in an attempt to put the ball in the lecturer teams’ court. ‘Would the teams be willing to give new lecturers a longer introduction period as part of their task load policy?’ But a student member advocated the establishment of a school-wide norm such as scheduling 20 percent of the new lecturer’s time for introductory purposes.
And it’s these kinds of ideas that Zestor – the labour market and training fund for universities of applied sciences – is looking for. Zestor has also observed that universities of applied sciences are not managing to retain their new lecturers well enough. Fifty percent of the teaching staff that is leaving their university of applied sciences has worked at their school fewer than four years. With its ‘Mission: Flying Start’, Zestor wants to encourage universities of applied sciences to change this situation for the better.
In search of both ideas and inspiring examples, Zestor has now organised a competition open to both the students and staff of universities of applied sciences: How can universities of applied sciences improve how they recruit, select and assist new lecturers in order to retain good lecturers? Two prizes of €3,000 each will be awarded: one to a student, and one to a lecturer. More information is available at: http://www.zestor.nl/missievliegendestart/award.