Category Archives: R&D Issues

The Role of University Faculty Members in Developing Professional Abilities in Students

By   January 11, 2016

Introduction:

1The University teachers expect from their students to develop information and proficiency abilities, enthusiastic behavior and acquired habits necessary to grow in professional life. However, the faculty members’ role in helping students to acquire knowledge and professional abilities through coursework, internships, laboratory work is obvious but it is not clearly distinct how teachers can assist their students to develop such professional attitude and behavior.

Discussion:

2Being a science student, I will try to explore the issue in order to explicitly illustrate the concerns of behavior related to education. These issues are found inside the university culture, where strong support for student professional development is blocked by the lack of effective approaches to encourage such growth. There have been many approaches to standard based professional conduct for students, faculty members and Administrative Staff. The academic staff tremendously agrees that more attention should be paid on developing professional institutions of higher education. The thought has been changing from following only traditional curricular outcomes. The curricular shift has demanded corresponding adjustments to instructional approaches for teaching pre-professionals, including an emphasis on imparting value-based professional behavior in students to prepare them for professional life.  However, a complete evolution of this type of curricular outcomes and a substantive importance on the development of professional behavior in students has yet to be realized fully in many institutions of higher education.

Roadblocks to professional behavior:

3The lack of serious attention to the professional behavior in university students might be the result of universities having no clear policies towards professional growth, gape between administration and faculty members, lack of professional & qualified staff. It may be assumed that the staff does not have clear ideas, coherent education and explicitly thorough responsibilities to undertake the activity of professional behavior development in students. The student affairs personnel should be trained to take responsibility to impart students with basic professional values and how professional behavior can be taught during studies? How the curriculum should be designed to develop professional behavior among students and how the instruction methods should be improved?  The curricular changes should be designed to help students develop professional behavior.  The opinion of faculty members about their role in such work should be clear, specifically their expectations regarding who should have such a responsibility and how such work should be carried out in classrooms.

The role of faculty members:

4We commence to decide faculty members’ opinions about their role in developing professional behavior in students. Different researches indicate a variance level of perceived commitment to developing professional behavior in students between full and part time faculty.  It is hypothetical on our part, but full time faculty might be more dedicated to the development of professional behavior in students due to professional accountabilities that require them to create closer interactions with their students and colleagues in advisory roles. Some of these tasks include an obligation to civility and professional behavior, as well as a heightened awareness of student development issues. Additional to this greater awareness is a commitment to promote the professional behavior development in students. In other words, full time faculty might have a broader sense of professional expectations, a deeper understanding of academic program requirements related to professional behavior, and an affiliated commitment to the development of such behaviors. Since the specialized programs obviously include and address the teaching of professional behavior in its standard curriculum, it may bring a deeper responsibility of awareness and sensitivity to these issues among the faculty having professional degrees. The professional degrees may have raised the sense of responsibility and cognize the faculty to develop professional behavior in students.

The role of other staff members and senior students:

Even though all faculty members may not have observed themselves to be teaching professional behavior directly, it seems rational to accept that it is something done by faculty members. The capacity to improve student professional attitude who act in a professional manner is more than just the interest and duty of faculty in classrooms. The support of administration and students affairs section is essential for the growth of students’ professional behavior. This support can be obtained in several ways. The faculty members need assistance, support in defining their role in helping student professional behavior development. The qualified student affairs personnel can assist as counselors to teachers on how to go beyond instructions related to disciplinary knowledge and skills. They can highlight the ways toward the development of the students and they can point out the methods to bridge the gap between academics and students affairs members and develop colossally meaningful partnership for collaborative efforts.

Moreover, these collaborative partnerships can assist teaching staff members in promoting other activities that contribute to student development. These may include service learning opportunities where students can directly observe and learn from people who are acting as professionals. The student affairs staff can also support the development and ongoing success of faculty in house training workshops and various case studies events and the arrangement of classes. They can promote office hours in the domestic halls in active learning environments where students and faculty members have greater chance to transfer professional behavior and other topics that can promote professional attitude. Thus, it would seem reasonable to suggest that collaboration between administrators, student affairs personnel, and faculty members is a necessary and a fundamental step if greater emphasis is to be placed on helping students to develop professional behavior.

Suggestion and Conclusion:

5This environment will educate student affairs personnel and other associated staff, teaching staff and administrative officers to better understand their perceived roles respectively in student’s professional behavior development.  This will help teachers to deliver knowledge and experiences effectively and administrative offices to play active role in the development of professional curricula for the professional behavior progress in students.

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Author:

Humaira Rahim | Research Scholar in Chemistry and Freelancer Writer

What kills Science to become Technology in Pakistan?

By   December 3, 2015

Universities in developed countries have an established research culture. The research output of academia greatly contributes towards the development of these countries. It is an undeniable fact that universities in Pakistan have the convention of strong classroom teaching, but when it comes to research, too little is being carried out to help Pakistan shape its economic, social and scientific policies. I have been associated with academia and research for more than six years, and it has always been disturbed to look at the quality of publications most of our researchers produce. There are several reasons for the sloppy state of research activity in Pakistani universities. However, many of the problems can be resolved with a few steps in the right direction.

Research for the sake of promotion:

Die drei Architekturstudenten (aus China Ming-Zhe Lu, aus Afghanistan Hila Limar, aus Bulgarien Anna Kokalanova) schauen sich das Modell der neuen Hafen City Universit?t an, die ab dem n?chsten Jahr am Standort Hafencity in Hamburg gebaut werden soll und

In 2002, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) started to introduce reforms in universities. Thousands of students were sent abroad for higher studies. Many of them returned after accomplishing their studies and are now serving in Pakistan. Although HEC makes sure that scholars do come back after completing their education in foreign countries by signing a legal bond with them, the HEC has set no criteria for the number and quality of publications produced during the course of their PhDs. Some supervisors fuss over the quality of research due to the international ranking of their research group, but most do not bother at all. Scholars pursuing their studies from reputed universities abroad publish fewer but quality papers whereas for the ones here, it is the other way round.

Universities in Pakistan require a certain number of publications along with a PhD for promotion. The quality of publications is conveniently ignored and so a person having fewer good publications with hundreds of citations is left behind while someone having lot of publications in unknown conferences and journals and grabs the position of a tenured professor. This puts off academicians from working hard after completing their PhDs and once they are back in Pakistan, they end up publishing in all sorts of shady journals/conferences.

Jealousies and insecurities amid faculty:

It is important to note that most of the people heading individual teaching departments in universities are not actively involved in research themselves. Thais is a major reason why these HODs (Heads of Department) are lax in pushing their departmental colleagues on research, too. Many even feel threatened by the prospect of their younger colleagues getting a high-quality paper published and obtaining critical acclaim or national/international recognition.  many of the readers here are more than familiar with this issue — insecure HODs burdening their subordinates with extra workload; creating hindrances by withholding basic resources like laptops, printers etc.; being generally lazy and so on . All these factors contribute heavily to the decrepit state of academics in our institutes.

Poor communication and collaboration:

Bad-Communication-and-Staff-Productivity

Communicating the research and collaborating for future work are two main ingredients for carrying out quality research. In Pakistan, universities pay no attention to communicate and disseminate the research of their teachers. The reasons for this are much the same as they have been mentioned above: indolence, poor networking and relations, jealousy and just an entrenched culture that has accepted mediocrity as its hallmark and has long been hopeless in the fight against it. All having said this all, if the research being done is too poor to merit proper dissemination, who could one really blame?

Tortuous processes of acquiring funding:

Now the question arises why most of the research is poor quality? Well, a primary reason is that original, groundbreaking research needs funding. Universities in developed countries have special funds for the training of their academicians, for which they send them to summer schools and workshops. Regular seminars are conducted and renowned scholars are invited from all over the world to communicate their research to the young researchers. HEC does have some funding for organizing conferences and travel grants for researchers attending conferences, but the process is too long. Researchers have to apply for the visas before traveling to the conference venue and due to the long process of funding approval; sometimes they are unable to get the visas on time.

Gulf between academia and industry:

Around the world, industry works in collaboration with academia so that cutting-edge research can solve the relevant problems of the age. This transfer of knowledge from academia to industry is of primary importance in developed economies. In Pakistan, however, the gap between academia and industry is too wide. Neither is research shaped by industry concerns, nor is it good enough to address them anyway. The detachment from the real world is also the reason that our graduates are deemed ill-equipped and inadequate for the professional world, when they go out for job-hunting.

How to fix the decrepit research culture:

For inculcating healthy and fruitful research practices in academia, we need to start thinking long-term and create research-conducive environments in our universities.

  • To begin with, HEC must follow a policy of accepting only those publications for promotion/selection, which have been published in high-impact Journals/places.
  • To keep the senior-most academicians involved in research, universities should make it mandatory for every faculty member to publish at least one good quality paper as a lead author every year. This will ensure that even the tenured professors take active part in research and do not put a full stop to it after securing their post.
  • Seeing that a significant number of scholars are now returning to Pakistan, it is the next natural step to facilitate these new inductees and help them get into the system here. To this end, regular, weekly meetings should be conducted, where faculty members get together to discuss ongoing projects. This will be a step towards better communication and networking, mutual understanding and improved dissemination of knowledge to fellow academicians not just across but outside of Pakistan. Ultimately, efforts like these will result in more productive research collaborations.
  • To tackle the issue of lengthy processes of travel-grant approvals, HEC must streamline processes and should loosen up the requirements a bit, if possible. Sending abroad/inviting home scholars for seminars should be much easier than it currently is.
  • The symbiosis of industry and academia is imperative. Industrial problems can be solved at lower costs if students are involved in the projects. One way of doing this is to assign small research-based projects to Bachelors and Masters Students, with the first supervisor from academia and the second supervisor from the industry.

Students usually offer industrial solutions at a small price, which should be attractive to companies. The university, on the other hand, can complement their research by securing funds and equipment for students from the industry in exchange for their ideas. Although academic research is new to Pakistan, it has already been a decade since HEC started this program of sending scholars abroad for higher education. It is now time to forge ahead and introduce research-based projects in our undergraduate and postgraduate programs. We cannot conjure a whole new culture overnight, but let us at least start with introducing the basics of research at undergraduate level.

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Author:

Zain Akram, Research Scholar, University of Sargodha- zainakram9@gmail.com

Four habits that stop you from doing any important work

By   September 22, 2015

6a00e0099631d0883301bb07d201e6970d-200wiWe don’t take actions that move us closer to our goals.  It usually happens because we have some inner characteristics that stop us from . We need to perceive that our emotions dictate us in life and at times prove a hurdle in the way of action. Our contradictory feelings keep us busy in pointless activities and our emotional reaction to the consequential  questions of life is really impractical.  We stay contented with what we are and time passes on. Constant learning and self training can facilitate the journey of moving from reflections to actions. You can train your mind to discard the insidious lessons that have been learned from the environment, culture and traditional outworn education.

Procrastination:

Procrastination is perhaps the biggest of all problems that proves a hurdle in your way to work and success. It disperses your thoughts about moving toward a desired goal. Every day you think to do something and then you put it off till tomorrow because your mind makes you believe that it can be done tomorrow. You find yourself lagging behind the flood of thoughts, but remain unable to take a single step ahead. You think a lot, but you don’t move a little. . Getting rid of overwhelming thoughts is the first step that can initiate your journey and institute  you to become an active person.

Better environment:

aSearch for a better time or suitable circumstances is another barrier that creates a high degree of lethargy among people and ceases them from working in a progressive way. They indulge in the habit of waiting for a better situation. This wait has been a never ending thing because fitting time never comes and wait continues to be there. One needs to realize that tomorrow never comes and today is the only day that we have. Any task that is done today can bring a better tomorrow, but delaying it can only take the situation from bad to worse. Start  working today is the message that time wants to teach you. By answering this message you will lay the first brick to construct a mega building of success.

Astounding ideas:

Waiting for some wonderful, impressive ideas is another bar that stops very effective people from heading towards success. For no good reason we start to believe that our current ideas are outdated and are not worth sharing. They will be overshadowed  by the ideas of other scholars. We may fail because of our obsolete ideas. It takes us to discuss our thoughts with countless irrelevant people who further confuse us instead of guiding us and providing with some transparent thought. The more you get involved in renewing and reinventing your idea  and giving it a better shape,  the more you go away from your work and resultantly from your goal.

Taking an exceptional step:

Thinking of taking a substantial step tomorrow is another barricade that is taking you to think over and over and stops you to set the ball rolling. One day you will definitely get a high speed if you set the wheels in motion. Take the first step If you want to cover a hundred miles distance. Moving on the right track matters more than moving on rapidly. If you are thinking and working in the right direction, your slow speed will not paralyze you from reaching the destination.

So the important factor is that you set on a journey and eradicate your unnecessary conceptions.  Great people are those who work day in and day out to achieve their desired goal and did not pay attention to their unmerited notions.

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Author: Zahid Iftikhar, Head IRP Blog Project | blog@irp.edu.pk