what do non-professors think professors do?
Most people are unaware of what professors do outside of a few Hollywood stereotypes, such as the whip-cracking Indiana Jones. At the beginning of the semester, I always briefly introduce students to the multiple work responsibilities that professors have – research, teaching, and service to the profession, institution, and public. Occasionally, I also mention the career stages of academics. Because students usually only encounter professors in the classroom, many students (and non-students) don’t realize that professors have various responsibilities in addition to teaching, and these beliefs can translate into under-informed recommendations and policies, such as this and this. Despite painstakingly written and documented rebuttals, some still persist in propagating erroneous beliefs about what professors do, as evidenced by a blogger who continues to earnestly recommend academia for its long breaks and “minimal” travel requirements.
Students can be introduced to otherwise opaque aspects of academia and the building of knowledge outside of the classroom. In particular, they can participate in national and regional academic conferences and events. While attending a regional conference, one of my former students commented that she had a newfound “respect” for academic work. For me, her comment underscored how such immersion can help others understand what is involved in particular types of work. So don’t forget to remind your students, ASA submissions for the 2013 conference closes 3pm EST this Wed., Jan. 9th! Hope to see our readers at this conference in NYC on Aug. 10-13 and ESS in Boston on March 21-23, 2013.