“FHML raising the requirements of the so-called teaching careers,” was a heading in Observant in April 2015. “Anyone who wants to become an assistant professor or professor ‘based on teaching’ will have to show that he or she is an expert in that field even more so than before. The idea that you can become a professor via teaching more easily than through research, needs to be removed,” said Mirjam Oude Egbrink, at the time. She was already scientific director of FHML’s Institute for Education.
It has now been brought up again: the idea that the teaching career track would be a “sidetrack”. “Managers still have such thoughts at times. Something like: ‘My employee is not so successful in research, but I would still like him to become a professor, can that not be arranged through teaching?’ Fortunately, it has become clear for most that it doesn’t work that way. This is supported by our strict requirements.”
Academically up to date
The document contains a long list of criteria. Oude Egbrink, who trained as a biologist and did a PhD in cardiovascular medicine, names a few of them: “You must be intrinsically motivated of course. And also have a PhD. Research is part of it too – we feel that you must continue to be academically up to date. In that research, you will make a complete switch, because you are from a different discipline than didactics.” Training is also part of the requirements: a master’s in the field of education. Moreover, candidates must have fulfilled various ‘roles in teaching’, content-wise as well as at a management level, and have performed at a high level in these.”
The presence of SHE, the Maastricht School of Health Professions Education, in the faculty is very important, says Oude Egbrink. “We can benefit from their knowledge and infrastructure (lectures, debates, network).” Besides that, SHE provides a (parttime) two-year educational master’s. “Every year, the education institute finances part of the study time for two programme places.” Money that comes from the faculty’s own funds. “A track like that involves a lot of expenses. And although I believe that it will certainly pay off, the money has to be there in the first place.” We have planned an evaluation that sets off the expenses against ‘the returns’ of the teaching career track.
The fact that FHML in Maastricht is taking teaching careers seriously, doesn’t mean that nothing is being done elsewhere or that it is not being thought about. There is a discussion about it within the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience (FPN) at the moment, within the framework of Recognition and Appreciation. Professor Petra Hurks, vice dean of education: “We don’t only look at, for example, scientists who excel in education, but especially at those who excel at innovation or those who have a great impact on students.” In addition, we have employees at FPN who “are making a career based on their excellent teaching performance, in the sense of a promotion to associate professor 1 or Lecturer 1”, said Hurks.
There are also plans within FPN for a Section Teaching and Innovation of Learning (STIL), a central place for ideas and advice in the field of teaching. The idea is that all ‘full-time’ lecturers join the new STIL, whether they have a temporary or permanent contract. But they are free to make a choice, they may also remain with their own department. In addition, FPN wants to put even more effort into acquiring education subsidies, such as the Comenius grants from the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research.