I am a professor at a Community College. My department has adopted policies through a majority vote . The two policies I have questions about are:
- An instructor must use the approved textbook for any particular course.
- An instructor may not use multiple-choice tests for assessments in class.
The majority of the instructors in my department would like a certain textbook that we have used for decades so that students that fail the course don't have to buy a different book if they take someone else. This is a great point, however, I would argue that the textbook proposed is outdated and far inferior to what's available now.
It seems that 51% of the department can and is stifling innovation. This is a self reinforcing problem as once a teacher uses a book for awhile they are less likely to change as it requires more work. For example, if I am forced to use a certain textbook for half my career than I probably wouldn't want to switch in the latter half and would then force newbies to use my outdated textbook if I was forced into choosing one book for everyone... the cycle continues.
In regards to multiple-choice exams, I find that my students can be served better in some situations by assessing their ability to express answers in different forms. Surprisingly they often don't know how to do this. Below is a just one basic example of how I might use a multiple choice question to aid in students learning:
- 1/2+1/3 is equivalent to
Students are usually taught to get 5/6, but often don't realize that 20/24 is equivalent because they are simply following a pattern and do not always understand that their answer has equivalent forms. I believe using multiple-choice in some scenarios like this is worthwhile.
It is my understanding that as a tenured instructor, I am able to teach a class in the pedagogical manner I believe is best for my class while satisfying all other requirements. Does this include what textbook I use and the types of assessments I sometimes use? Maybe I am wrong. Thank you.