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How can developing countries attract quality teachers from developed countries?

  1. Dec 21, 2015 #1
    I don't know if it is a correct sub-forum to ask but I have doubts. In STEM, developing countries do need quality professors or skilled persons. This leads to innovation and start of service-oriented sectors. This leads to improved quality of life for all these people. Now my question is, what are the policy changes in developing countries which would help in attracting professors? What do foreign professors expect in developing countries? How much comfort do they expect? How much academic independence do they expect?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 22, 2015 #2
    Real academic freedom would be huge.

    With growing job pressure in the US to pass slackards, lazy students, and students who are poorly prepared, most profs in developed countries will be worried they will be pressured to compromise academic standards and rigor in developing countries.

    Developing countries must guarantee profs a BLANK CHECK to fail as many students as they need to based only on their professional evaluation of whether these students meet academic standards necessary to pass the course.
  4. Dec 27, 2015 #3
    Also, it should be treated on a country by country basis. Some governments are more stable then others.
  5. Dec 27, 2015 #4


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    It seems you have this image of students who register just to party. Do you have any reason to believe this is the case? There may be some of these, but some may benefit from some guidance. And free passes create problems of their own. I always go for checks and balances. Besides, there are already many high -quality schools in poorer countries; the issue is more one of keeping students from traveling and ultimately staying abroad. EDIT: By default, I always prefer a combination of carrot and stick.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
  6. Dec 27, 2015 #5
    I've been teaching from 2002 to the present, and I have a number of colleagues who are or were faculty at various institutions. Other than West Point and USAFA, there is a consistent and significant minority at every public institution that seems more interested in partying than in gaining a real education and putting forth the real efforts needed to succeed in introductory STEM courses.

    If by checks and balances, you mean some unbiased assessment whether a prof's graded events represent a level of rigor much more difficult than the learning objectives of the course when there is a high level of students failing or complaining, then I would completely agree. However, I've never seen this. Instead, profs are pressured to due whatever necessary to ensure high student satisfaction and high passing rates.

    At one institution, I was shocked at the first department faculty meeting. A junior faculty member asked if his tenure and promotion potential would be harmed if he failed two graduate students who had completed 0% and 20% (respectively) of the required work in a summer research course. The response so pressured this faculty member that he compromised his values and both students were given Bs in the course. I've seen this situation play out many times in various ways, usually in intro courses, and with faculty threatened with various negative job factors if they don't make students happy when the only way to do that is to pass students who have not demonstrated competence in the learning objectives.

    I too believe that a stick and carrot approach is necessary. But an increasing number of institutions no longer allow faculty to use the stick for students who refuse to meet course requirements.

    This (http://wmbriggs.com/post/2415/ ) is the kind of thing I am talking about, but there are probably 100 cases that don't make the press for every one that does.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
  7. Dec 27, 2015 #6
    If students are assessed on problem-solving skills only, with no explicit assessment questions regarding concepts, most students will attempt to learn how to solve problems through repetition alone, avoiding the mental effort necessary to develop true problem-solving skills and the conceptual knowledge that necessarily goes with them. Instructors will then encounter poor student performance on tests and be presented with the following options.

    1. Make the tests easier by relaxing grading schemes, putting easier problems on tests, preparing students better by exposing them to only the types problems that will appear on tests, or some combination of the above.

    2. Fail large numbers of students.

    3. Teach students how to develop true problem solving skills by placing on tests both conceptual questions and traditional problems.

    Personally, I find that practicing 3 helps avoid 1 and usually 2.
  8. Dec 31, 2015 #7
    But, Technology and engineering are high priority areas. An engineer can bring in products in less time than a pure science or math graduate( which require deep thinking).The factor of capital too plays a major role in engineering( low cost, less energy, more speed and high reliability) Hence, I feel that engineering can be more practical oriented( through internships and training). How can we attract engineering professors and make the college an environment for doing business and innovation? How can we link practical implications and the professor's performance?. How can he be incentivised to motivate students to learn? How could students be made to feel independent to think without affecting the professor's independence and concern?
    Afterall, a developing country needs infrastructure, healthcare and good governance. So, engineers are more needed.
  9. Dec 31, 2015 #8


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    Don't mean to be argumentative, Dr. Courtney; you have good evidence that this is a problem on the U.S, I am convinced. But does this diagnosis hold in poor countries? Is there good reason to believe the same is true in these third world countries? But it is a good idea to watch out for party animals. I remember when I used to teach that I was asked to motivate students to excel academically, to study more. I had trouble figuring out how to do it because I as a student never had this problem. My problem was the opposite; I was interested in way too many things and I had trouble focusing on just a few.
    Maybe one can require interviews with candidates/applicants to assess their level of commitment , hopefully filtering out at least a few that are either are not motivated to do their work or do not have a clear idea of what they want to do while in school.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2015
  10. Dec 31, 2015 #9


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    Something else that may be effective is to find a way to have people of different departments exchange ideas and cooperate on projects. This had been one of Steve Jobs' obsessions; he tried to reorganize Apple's physical and general layout to get people of different specialties to interact with each other, thinking that new ideas, innovation in general would result from these exchanges.
  11. Dec 31, 2015 #10
    My point was that since there is pressure to pass students who have not met the learning objective in the US, developing countries can gain an advantage in attracting faculty by ensuring that there are not these pressures - that faculty have real academic freedom to uphold appropriate academic rigor. Faculty concerns are much more likely based on their experiences at home rather than the realities in developing countries, perhaps paired with the expectation that standards may be worse in developing countries.

    One thing that I would look for when assessing the rigor of academic programs in a developing country is whether the engineering programs are ABET accredited. I'd also like to peruse the exams of some of the physics and math courses. In an ideal world, I'd have an opportunity to compare the GPAs of graduating Physics majors with their GRE scores. Nothing says trouble like systemic high GPAs and low GRE scores.
  12. Jan 16, 2016 #11


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    I know at least one local retiree who volunteered every summer to teach computer science in various African nations. Sadly, this individual passed away a little more than a year ago. I know of others who live or visit developing nations, in Asia, Africa and South America, for the purpose of teaching or supporting and/or providing health care and other developmental work.
  13. Jan 16, 2016 #12


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    A couple of the main issues that I think prevent people from going to developing countries in any occupation are security and stability (real, perceived, or assumed from ignorance). First world countries are certainly not without their problems, but if a person isn't sure that he or she is moving to a more secure region then that person will be assuming some level of increased risk compared to the status quo. Sometimes you can compensate someone for that. Sometimes you can't. A lot depends on the perceptions of the individual.

    Another issue is just a general issue of getting people to move in the first place. The highest quality teachers (or other professionals) are often the ones that have some experience. And once they have that, it can be difficult to get a person to move. If someone works through her or his life and finally attains tenure in a university through a highly competitive field, how are you going to convince that person to give that up to go somewhere else? The occasional person in this boat may become disenfranchised or wake up and decide to do something different with her or his life, but how often does that happen?

    Instead I think you'll end up picking largely from the pool of post-docs sick of the race for tenure, and while I think you'll definitely find some quality candidates by doing that, you'll have to put some resources into developing that talent.
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