Never mind the contact width, feel the quality (3 of 3)

August 18, 2011

I couldn't agree more with Ann Mroz: it's not about how much time you spend with students, but what you do with it that counts.

However, the bean counters are in the field already, so might I suggest we start calculating individual contact time with students by the microsecond? That would, of course, be in addition to those valuable seconds, minutes and hours spent in tutorials, seminars, lectures, supervised readings, consultations, clinics and so on.

Regardless of student attainment at A level or the equivalent, the fees they have paid or the league-table status of their institutions, students badly need that extra microsecond of our attention. That's about the time it takes for us to make eye contact with them as individual learners. It's about the time it takes to initiate recognition that shows we really are approachable and willing to help, even if it might seem that we are also dashing off to produce that world-beating research or hone those cutting-edge thoughts that will keep us ahead of the pack.

So those microseconds have to be worth something. They need to be counted. And, if we do start counting them, just think of the hours of time and tonnes of paperwork we might sometimes save ourselves and our institutions in terms of dealing with "mitigating circumstances" at examination time, student complaints and other disciplinary matters. Here's to the microsecond!

John Thompson, Professor of English textual cultures, Queen's University Belfast

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show