One career pathway an academic follows is through completing a research degree, performing post- doctoral research and moving on to the conference circuit to present papers. This path enables an academic to demonstrate to peers around the country, and the world, that they know what they are talking about. Many researchers go on to become Unit Coordinators and teachers but the above path does not prepare you well for either role. You go from being ‘a star’ in your discipline to being a classroom teacher and you can spend a great deal of time thinking how you can explain things better, organise materials more clearly, and demonstrate how things work in attempts to re-gain your star status.
Students will only learn what they are motivated to learn and many struggle through. While an academic‘s prior experience may be focussed on self, to engage their students they must think beyond themselves. A few years ago I was not satisfied with my role, which led me to reflect on my ethical values. Self-reflection is not something a research scientist would normally do but I decided that teaching is about helping and building relationships with your students. Any relationship should have an acceptable ethical basis to it and, if you focus on that, rather than the other criteria the university has deemed as important, you are more likely to be a successful teacher. Building relationships has also enhanced my job satisfaction.
The reason I joined the university, originally, was because pursuing research in industry was a solitary and lonely activity. I find it more rewarding working on projects with colleagues and students and sharing my knowledge and experience with them. There are aspects of the job I do not enjoy but I am being paid to do them so I get on and do them.