On Research Presentations at Conferences

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

When it comes to academic conferences, it seems most of us belong to one of two groups. The first is the research poster group, which has conversations with other scholars with the help of a visual aid. The second is the panel of papers group, where each panelist prepares a 20- to 25-minute presentation and then a discussant or moderator takes questions from the audience.

My research and my field generally belong to the latter group. Until very recently, I have ascribed to the common practice of writing an eight-page paper and simply reading it for the attendees. But that all changed a couple of months ago. Continue reading

Making the Most of the Summer

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

This time a year ago, I finished my degree and headed into the summer unsure of what to do with myself. It was only in hindsight that I thought critically about how to invest one’s time and energy over the summer. (Those thoughts are documented here.) This year, I’m taking a more proactive approach and creating a plan for the summer before it begins. Here, I describe the decisions I’ve made in terms of my teaching, structuring my time for research, and reading for professional enrichment. Continue reading

A Tool Kit for Teaching About Research

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

In a previous article, “Prepping a Course I’ve Never Taught Before,” I wrote how I decided to engage my students in a semester-long project that would expose them to research in my field. My thought process was that I want students to see that higher education is about learning to ask meaningful questions and solving the puzzles that are absent from their textbook. In this essay, I will elaborate on my approach for teaching research, and offer some tools and suggestions for doing so. Continue reading

Prepping a Course I’ve Never Taught Before

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

In my department, the courses that I get to teach depend heavily on registration. Some of the course offerings that fulfill general education requirements are stable from semester to semester; others that cater to students who seek a major or minor in my field fluctuate significantly.

This spring, my department chair asked me if I’d be willing to teach a specific course this fall because our department needed to offer it and there really wasn’t anyone else to teach it. The course already existed in the university course catalog, and the faculty member who has taught it has now left the university. It is outside of my area, but I’m agreeing to do it anyway. As far as a starting point goes, I don’t have much, and the course title means very little to me.

Therefore, I’m working through how to prep a course that is outside my area of expertise, that I’ve never previously taught and that, to be honest, I would never have suggested offering in the first place. I’ve decided to take on the challenge by asking myself a series of key questions. Continue reading

Campus Visit – Highs and Lows

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

February and March seem to be popular months for campus visits. The semester is back in full-swing after a timeout for the holiday break and search committees are back on task, finding the new hire who will show up to their department Aug. 1.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about campus visits (I’ve had a handful, but I include the anecdotal evidence of others in my data points), it’s that they are unpredictable. It’s hard to set specific expectations or draw conclusions. That said, candidates can do a few things to be prepared for the unexpected. And search committees can do a few things to help candidates mitigate the instability of the visit. Continue reading

A Week in the Life of an Assistant Professor

This year I transitioned from graduate school to the professoriate. I was one of the lucky few to get an increasingly rare tenure-track job in the Humanities. It’s been about six months since I started my new job, which has caused me to reflect on the transition and on how I spend my time. It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me that, with a few exceptions, the demands post-PhD are harder to balance than the demands of graduate school. The economic precarity of graduate school may be behind me, but employment pre-tenure is still precarious and my time feels even more valuable. I’m sharing with you a few lessons-learned, to shed some light on how an assistant professor spends an average week. (The original version of this blog post is available at on Teaching Academia.) Continue reading

Teaching 2.0

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

Congratulations! As junior professors, we’ve made it through the fall semester. Now it’s time to start thinking about adapting our teaching for next term.

If you feel your teaching during the fall term was lackluster, you aren’t alone; I admit that my teaching was something akin to survival mode. I had teaching experience when I started my job, but I had never juggled multiple courses, right after a move, while trying to get adjusted to a new environment and new professional relationships. Even before I received my teaching evaluations, I knew there was room for improvement, and my evaluations confirmed that suspicion. Our institution uses raw scores, so it’s difficult to know exactly what I should have done better. While the scores came back solidly in the “good” range, I’d like to see something more like “good/great” next term. Continue reading