Teaching: on the front line

August 13, 2004

What is your experience of teaching?

Name : Dominic Malcolm

Age : 35

Job : Director of masters programmes, Centre for the Sociology of Sport, Leicester University.

Salary : Lecturer B scale (up to £34,838).

Qualifications : BA politics (Nottingham University), MA sociology of sport (Leicester), PhD (Leicester) fingers crossed for later this summer.

Background : After the Leicester MA, I took an information technology diploma, which involved a small research project surveying football spectators. This led to my first position at Leicester, which was largely technical, and research back-up for a distance-learning centre.

Hours spent teaching : I teach five hours a week on a campus-based MA in the sociology of sport and five to six hours a week all year round on a distance-learning MBA and MSc in the sociology of sport/ sports management.

Revising, updating and proofreading course materials tends to involve intensive bursts so is difficult to quantify.

Hours on red tape : Following a number of retirements last summer, I took on all the administration duties for the MA and MSc - admissions, examinations, budgeting and finance, liaising with agents, printers and so on. It has been a steep learning curve, involving maybe 15 hours a week.

Hours on research : It tends to have to fit around developing course materials, but I like to think that I can devote an average of about 15 hours a week to research.

Teaching bugbear : The most frustrating thing has been that, after a nine-month review of activities last year, the decision to continue with the distance-learning MSc was reversed in March, two-thirds of the way through implementing a new modular structure and an extensive rewrite of course materials.

Worst teaching moment? I was dissertation supervisor for a student who had a range of some very real, but some less convincing, personal problems. The more the dissertation dragged on, the more I became uneasy about her attachment to me and my support.

Best moment? The best moments come through students' success.

Distance-learning students are often incredibly grateful for the help that they receive as they recognise that they couldn't get through without you.

Many campus-based students feel honoured to have studied at the centre.

Seeing them progress to PhDs and then into higher education careers makes you acutely aware of the impact that you've had on their lives.

My teaching tip? Students tend to come knowing a lot about sport and not much about sociology. The first thing they need to do is to understand the difference between sociological study and much of what they read in the press and populist sports literature.

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