Teaching: on the front line

July 30, 2004

What is your experience of teaching?

Name: Esther Jubb

Age: 34

Job: Lecturer in politics, Liverpool John Moores University.

Salary: Approximately £26,200.

Qualifications: BA at Lancaster University, MA at Keele University, and PhD at Durham University.

Experience: As a graduate student, I taught at Durham, then for six-months at Paisley University before moving to Liverpool John Moores University in 1998. I teach across the politics programme, but specialise in US politics, and media and politics, both really popular areas.

Hours spent teaching: Normally 13 hours a week, but this varies.

Hours on red tape: Probably about 40 per cent of my time - modular systems create a lot of administration. I'm also the department's teaching and learning co-ordinator, which can add quite a lot to my workload.

Hours on research: I'm entering a different research environment at the moment - teaching and learning research rather than my specialist area research. I have a couple of funded projects up and running and they probably take about ten to12 hours per week.

Teaching bugbears: Numerous: student attendance (students seem to like the idea of being at university more than being here in person); students' inability to follow instructions - clearly defined assessment criteria, deadlines and so on; constantly having to go over referencing and plagiarism issues with them. Negative attitudes to e-learning and the potential that it has for supporting students.

How would you solve it? Without a university attendance policy, I can't do much other than make my lectures so fabulous that they don't dare miss them. Instructions on assessment are becoming more detailed, not just in terms of assignment questions but also in terms of writing, structure and analysis. This is also the case with referencing and plagiarism information. Despite study skills instruction, students don't seem to be able to grasp why referencing is important and what the problem is with plagiarism. E-learning is a touchy subject and many colleagues are sceptical, but I think it can work so long as it's not used in a one-size-fits-all format.

Worst teaching moment? When I first moved to Liverpool John Moores I was 28, and a mature student made it clear that he felt he had nothing to learn from someone younger than his children - which may have been true, but I would have liked to have been given the chance.

Best? Watching this year's end of semester presentations - really passionate students talking about their political interests.

My politics teaching tip: Remember, most students now think of Margaret Thatcher as a historical figure.

Outside interests: Movies, gardening and travel.

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