Teaching: on the front line

April 18, 2003

What is your experience of teaching? Pat Leon asks teachers how they manage

Name: Jane Clarbour

Age: 43

Job: Lecturer in social psychology and forensic psychology, University of York.

Salary: £23,292

Qualifications: BSc in social sciences, specialising in psychology; PhD in adolescent emotional behaviour: a psychometric and experimental study.

Experience: I was a mature student at the Open University, graduating in 1996 before coming to York. As a postgraduate studentship holder at York I was expected to do 66 hours teaching a year. This included taking tutorials, demonstrating, marking essays and practical reports for the social psychology and personality modules. All new academics do two years' training in academic practice at York to gain a certificate. You get a personal academic supervisor as well as a departmental mentor. Everyone has been exceptionally supportive.

Hours spent teaching: I have 40 hours contact time teaching social psychology in the spring term and 14 hours teaching forensic psychology and emotional behaviour in the autumn. Much of my day in term time is devoted to teaching-related activities. I also supervise students for their third-year literature surveys and projects. I encourage students to do projects related to my research. Topics can include suicide in prison populations, psychopathy, emotional problems and antisocial behaviour. I work closely with local prisons and I try to fit in field trips to give students an insight into working with offenders.

Hours on red tape: I have spent lots of time developing a new MSc in applied forensic psychology. There are documents to prepare for the university teaching committee, working out the costs, meetings with other staff and with external forensic psychologists in the field.

Hours on research: About a third of my time. I research mostly between Easter and October when I am not teaching. I prefer to work in "chunks" and try to limit teaching activity to autumn and spring terms.

Teaching bugbear: Student punctuality.

Teaching pleasure: I love my job. I can't think of many jobs where you have autonomy but still work as part of a close-knit team, get to travel to exotic places to give papers and work flexibly.

Outside interests: Is there life outside of work? I spend much of my free time with my children. I like travel and live close to the ferry, so we can nip across to Europe for weekends.

Career highpoints: Getting my first position at York. A close second has to be contributing to developing the new MSc.

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