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April - 2016 - issue > In My Opinion

Faculty Development: An imperative

Dr. Ahindra Chakrabarti
Professor - Finance & Accounting-Great Lakes Institute of Management
Monday, April 18, 2016
Dr. Ahindra Chakrabarti
Business Schools transform personalities, ingrains competency in them from can do a job to getting the job done. This transformation takes place with the support of enduring theoretical knowledge delivered by faculty which shapes the mind of students: knowledge and skill level increases. Hereby, faculty system and their contribution in developing future managers are very important for students, institutions and the country. In India, faculty development programs are quite standardized. Conventionally, in business schools, teachers or industry experts with little, formal professional training for teaching other than high degrees in various disciplines, join and are also accepted by the system. The presumption here is, imparting knowledge is important and students have to be informed in the class.

Many of the management teachers' lack of professional training as educators, was perhaps understandable as long as relatively little was known about how learning occurs, how students are developed, and what the effects of the business school's teaching experience are on the student's development. Lack of training was perhaps irrelevant as long as most of the students were coming from similar background and the job market had hey days. Traditionally, it was believed that writing more of articles and publishing in the newspaper; producing research papers, attending seminars and conferences were enough for faculty to equip themselves for teaching and imparting knowledge in the class.

However, the scenario has changed. Today, the new generation of learners, the combination of new Web, the demands of global knowledge economy and the financial crisis has created a storm for the business schools, globally. It has created difficulty for many business schools to find suitable employments for their students. Perspectives of business education have undergone change; different categories of business schools have emerged, one thing being common among them, possibly regulatory approval, which focuses more on building and floor size and number of faculty than teaching capability and competence; research or consulting assignments. Students' expectations from business school have also undergone sea changes; industry requirements and expectations have also become different. To meet the increasing expectations of various stakeholders some business schools vigorously support faculty development as one of the objectives of the institution, some do not. Faculty development is a necessary corollary for survival in medium and long term for business schools or else they will perish, in the new environment.

Traditionally, we used to follow, lecture system in which 70 to 90 percent or more of course content was delivered in the class. Classrooms lecture was the preferred instructional method for professors. Academic advising, if it were occurring at all, was largely focused on helping students make short-term decisions as they choose from menus of course titles. Over the period of few decades we have realized that these educational practices cannot produce the complex kinds of student outcomes, required today by employers. The shift from a tradition-based, theoretical educational process to an analytical competency building process will require constant innovation to news style of delivery in the class room by the faculty members.

Now with the wide diversity of our students, together with the nation's pressing need for properly trained managerial talent, it is time we relook at the delivery system in the Business schools in general and faculty-competency in particular. In the new environment, professors, if to remain relevant, need to abandon the traditional lecture and start listening to students, a shift from broadcast style to interactive style. In this way faculty would not remain curators of learning, and will follow a process of collaboration with the students.

Hence there is need to develop and groom faculty members to equip them for delivering the expected outcomes in developing students and professional managers in this new environment. Change will be required to toss out the old industrial model of pedagogy - how learning is accomplished - and replace it with a new model called collaborative learning. Secondly, we need an entirely new modus operandi for developing the content, the course materials, texts, test banks, teaching and learning support, power point presentation, collaborative learning problem and practice sets are to be created.

Today, faculty members have advantage to compare their course curriculum with the global level institutions. Many leading educational institutions post their educational material online; putting into public domain what would have traditionally been considered aproprietaryasset and part of the educational institution's competitive advantage. MIT pioneered this concept and today more than two hundred institutions of higher learning have followed suit including Ivy League Universities. As an educational institution we need to identify what are the specific intended competencies our students should have after going through each paper in curriculum. We need to effectively articulate these competencies in program design, implementation, and assessment. This will necessarily require faculty to work on this and accordingly orient pedagogy to deliver courses to fulfil the expected outcomes.

Traditional business schools today face growing dissatisfaction with the actual outcomes they are producing, with a remarkable growth in competition from the students from non-traditional educational institutions. Some of these non-traditional educational institutions employ trained educators to develop and implement their instruction; some offer higher-quality learning opportunities compared to institutions with untrained faculty and traditional methods. High-quality faculty is an urgent need and will become essential to institutions' capacity to compete in the years ahead to survive and thrive. The advances of online education system will require a different set of competency for the faculty members; and the onslaught of online education cannot be stopped in any way. The transformation of faculty system or development of faculty is not just a good idea but it is an imperative.

Dr. Ahindra Chakrabarti
He is a Professor, Finance & Accounting at Great Lakes Institute of Management. Prior to this assignment, he was Director, International Management Institute Kolkata. He had taught at Management Development Institute between 1978-96; and at International Management Institute (IMI) New Delhi between 1996-2010. He has worked as Director (2000-02) Institute for Integrated Learning and Management (IILM) New Delhi and as Director General (2006-08) of Fortune Institute of International Business (FIIB). Dr. Chakrabarti holds a Master's Degree in Commerce from the University of Burdwan; LLB Degree from University of Delhi and PhD from the University of Burdwan.

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