The PhD? is not necessarily any better than an MA for getting a CC teaching gig; more depends on how well the English job candidate can teach and how much he or she knows about our students. An MA who has spent some years in the classroom and knows the ropes is usually an attractive candidate. If the PhD? is in a rhet-comp, English ed., or a similar field, then I'd view that as a great quality, but I'm not sure all my colleagues would. I'm not sure they would reject such a candidate out of hand, but the actual teaching power of the candidate would be their first, maybe only concern. There are competing visions, let's say, among CC faculty about who is best suited to teach at a CC. For example, it's easy for a recent PhD?, hopped up on a wealth of theories and doctrines, to appear woefully out of touch with the practical pedagogical concerns of CC faculty. (It's a common observation one hears among CC faculty that so-and-so knew a knowledgeable PhD? who couldn't teach him or herself out of a paper bag.) Alternatively, there are those CC faculty who are sensitive to maintaining healthy links to our transfer mission (which still accounts for over 70% of our students), meaning that there is an interest in bringing in candidates who know and value the university experience (enough to go through the rigors of getting a PhD?, for example) over people who know and focus extensively on the high school experience. That university-versus-high school focus is a tension in CCs? I think, probably inevitable given our "in-between" position in the higher ed landscape: pulling students into higher ed who otherwise wouldn't have succeeded as well as pushing on many academic late-bloomers who are obviously headed for four-year degrees earned in a timely manner. I would advise job candidates to speak constructively to both ends of that pedagogical spectrum as CC hiring committees, and our students, in many ways reflect it. Van Piercy, PhD? English Dept. Lone Star College - Tomball

This thread is fascinating. I think it speaks to much of the regionalism in community colleges--it depends on where you are.

In CUNY, for a tenure-track line, you need to have a Ph.D. (or on a few campuses, be ABD making progress towards your degree). We are expected to publish and be active in the field. So, for us, adjuncting is not necessarily an "inside track" to tenure track lines. Many of our wonderful adjuncts have MA degrees and are not eligible for tenure-track lines.

I agree with both Karin and Peter. I do think graduate education can prepare students to teach in a community college. I did not have any special "community college" training before I was hired at LaGuardia?. I think graduate programs that supervise their students carefully and do a good job of giving their students opportunities to teach, to be observed, to situate their teaching in pedagogical theory, and to grow as teachers prepare them well for the job market.

But, I also think some training in basic writing is a must. For me, on hiring committees, it's about attitude. When you ask questions about pedagogy & classroom situations, you can see right away who is ready to deal with underprepared students and who isn't. I've seen candidates not do well in interviews because they handled questions about student needs derisively or cluelessly.


J. Elizabeth Clark, Ph.D. Professor of English LaGuardia? Community College--CUNY e-mail: Phone: 718.482.5665

"Evans, Karin" 09/12/11 10:34 PM >>> A good teacher adapts. I'm not saying that preparing grad students for teaching at community colleges is a *bad* idea - but a community college is not, like, on a different planet. As a graduate student I taught at the major universities where I got my degrees, as an adjunct I taught at an odd variety of universities based on who paid the most, and I had a tenure-track job at a small liberal arts college before I got my tenure-track (now tenured) community college job.

Of course there are real differences among all these settings - but the bottom line was that my graduate degrees and assistantships prepared me extremely well for teaching a very wide variety of students. Rhet/comp is just a good field to be prepared in, no matter what kind of extra dressing you add. Advanced rhet/comp coursework, training in theory and pedagogy, supervised assistantships with observations and feedback, exposure to teaching different types of courses and students - I hope this is what we all strive to offer *all* our grad students. Who knows where they may end up?

Prepare them to be responsive, flexible teachers - anywhere.


-- Dr. Karin Evans Associate Professor of English College of DuPage?