Monday, May 23, 2005

Dana Vaughn Letter

Your May 22 editorial cites 9-15 classroom hours per week for UWO professors, but forgets another crucial teaching role here: advising. We do not have teaching assistants or a departmental advisor on staff “running interference” between students and faculty, as you find at larger institutions. Instead, our professors advise students directly. In Biology, I am formally assigned 35 to 65 students per semester; in other departments, the student advisee load per faculty may go as high as 200. Unlike K-12 students, college students are often separated from family, clergy, and other adult guidance. They naturally turn to faculty for advice, particularly as they parse a career path from the many options offered at UWO. I spend as many, or more, hours each week advising students about classes, study skills, career choices, and just plain life, as I do in classroom work. Given the prep and grading time per course, if I were assigned another, I’d be forced to limit my advising to infrequent group sessions that lump students into a “one size fits all” collective. That is not what UWO has stood for in the 7 years I have been here.

Dana K. Vaughan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

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