Clinic leads to ill feeling

February 4, 2000

Staff at one of Israel's leading universities who score poorly on student feedback surveys are expected to volunteer to attend a "teaching clinic", writes Paul Jeffrey in Jerusalem.

It is part of a drive at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem to improve teaching. The campaign includes sticking the names of "star lecturers", taken from each faculty's league table, on campus notice-boards.

Staff have reacted badly. They argue that student feedback surveys are not a good basis on which to decide the need for improvement and that "you can't teach old professors new tricks".

One senior professor said: "After 40 years' experience I have come to the conclusion that when a teacher enters a classroom, he either knows how to lecture or he doesn't."

Younger lecturers, many of whom are recent doctoral graduates, appear less worried about their performance or the prospect of attending professional development clinics. "Improvement of lecturing skills is always a good thing," said one lecturer, "although there are some subjects that I challenge anybody to make interesting."

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