Monday, November 21, 2011

Online Applications for the Third Year in a Row

After years of complaining about it, I'm finally sold on the online application process. Maybe it's just that I'm getting used to it, but it was not at all terrible this year. Easily three fourths of my applications this year were online, so it might also have just been that I was in "online application" mode from the start. It's still pretty obnoxious how you have to fill out the same contact info/references data in every application, but this year my autofill did a better job of filling out the forms for me, so it wasn't as much of a hassle.

Another nice thing about online apps is this: when I prepare paper applications, I am very bad about knowing how many of each document I will need and I always end up having to print out one or two more of a bunch of documents at the last minute. Obviously CVs and writing samples are easy, since everybody wants those, but I never print out enough research statements or syllabuses for business ethics. Online applications make this a non-issue.

Also, online applications are much, much cheaper. Way cheaper. Vastly cheaper.

And it seems like people are getting better about having "upload" slots for each required document. I only had one unexpected occasion to go into Adobe and make a combination PDF of several required documents.

It's also nice not to have to wait around for all the photocopies to copy. Making 30 or 40 copies of your writing sample is time-consuming and annoying. And I always do my copying in the evenings so I don't tie up the copier during the day, so it was nice not having to do very much of that.

But if I may make a suggestion, please put the application process all online or all offline. No more of this "submit these three documents electronically and then these four documents in hard copy" bullshit. That's the worst. Pick one.

--Mr. Zero

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Evidence of excellence in teaching"

Comments on the last post indicate an interest in the teaching portfolio, particularly for applications to those institutions where teaching is "valued." There was much discussion of the value of student evaluations, but I think a more general discussion of the teaching portfolio would be informative for job applicants.

I haven't served on a search committee, so I can only speak for what apparently worked for me as an applicant. My teaching portfolio included: a teaching statement, selected syllabi (tailored to the interests of the hiring dept), and student eval data sheets (with departmental data sheets for context) for every class I ever taught (but not the actual Scantron sheets or the student comments). Additionally, I would send a letter of recommendation from a faculty evaluator at a previous adjunct job. For a job where teaching was emphasized over research, I would send a CV with the teaching experience moved to the top, research further down. All in all, my complete teaching package came to 41 pages, about half of which was the student evals. Sometimes, I did not send the evals, because of file size limitations on e-applications. But in my cover letter I would always offer to send additional materials by request.

Some of my syllabi were for courses I had taught, and some were courses I proposed (but did not teach) or for courses I have an interest in teaching. So, some were "made up," but I can say that I put just as much work into constructing those syllabi as I put into syllabi for courses I have taught. (This is a good summer project for future jobseekers.) Which is to say, if you lack teaching experience, you can still think about teaching and invent syllabi and and a write a teaching statement.

I only ever had to do one teaching demo. It was a weird kind of trial by fire. I was asked to teach part of a class on something completely unrelated to the AOS/AOC of the job, and completely unrelated to my AOS/AOC. It was, so far as I could tell, an opportunistic scheduling -- the prof offered to give up half the class for the teaching demo. So I had to come up with something I knew that I could relate to the topic. At the half way point in the class, the SC filed in to observe from the back of the class. (In retrospect, the entire campus visit was a little odd, and I did not get the job.)

I reckon there must be some variation in what SCs are looking for in a teaching portfolio, and how much weight they give to various elements of the package.

I suppose applicants with less teaching experience might be at a disadvantage for jobs that "value" teaching, if actual teaching experience is a prerequisite. As I understand it, European PhD programs don't routinely (or ever?) include teaching or assisting duties for grads. Do they employ student evals? What should those applicants do about the teaching package (other than explain why they don't have teaching experience or evals)?


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Some Things I Have Noticed While Perusing This Year's Job Ads

1. Gettysburg College wants someone whose Area of Specialization is philosophy of peace and nonviolence. That seems pretty specific. Is this something that a lot of people specialize in? Are there enough controversial philosophical issues surrounding peace and nonviolence to make this a worthwhile area of specialization? Why would a philosophy department at such a small school require a philosopher with such a specific, narrow specialization?

2. This year's award for best "is there an echo in here?" ad goes to University of Reading, Reading, Reading. (#61, 192W). Yeah, but where is this university located?

3. Saint Anselm College wants someone who specializes in "contemporary" and whose AOC is the (entire?) history of philosophy. I guess they want a real generalist. Someone with a broad background.

4. I see a couple of one-semester VAPs (e.g. Lyon College, #30, 192W). Why would anyone agree to that? I could see it if you already lived in Batesville, Arkansas, pop. 9,556. But you don't, do you?

5. As Zombie points out, and has been discussed in comments, the Cycorp ad is pretty awesome.

6. I think I picked up exactly one new application in 192/192W. I'll double-check later when I have more time, but that's piss-poor.

7. This sucks.

--Mr. Zero

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November JFP up. 105 total ads in the print edition; last year had 145; the year before that had 131; the year before that had 188.

68 more ads in the web-onlies, many of which are not web-only. Hard to say how many new ads total; I'll have to go through and count later on when I get a free moment. Or, some industrious Smoker could do it and post the number in comments; I'm sure we'd all be grateful to anyone who was willing to do it.

This sort of sucks; I don't like it very much.

--Mr. Zero

P.S. I suspect that this post sets a new Philosophy Smoker record for semicolons per paragraph in a post; I like semicolons.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mental Health Break

The great Modern Jazz Quartet with the definitive version its signature piece, "Django." From the European Concernt. If you don't have it, get it.

--Mr. Zero

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Deep Thought

I don't like being on the job market very much and I look forward to a time when I don't have to do it any more.

--Mr. Zero

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How Do You Register for the Eastern APA Meeting?

Prof Kate recently asked,

I cannot seem to figure out how to register for the Eastern APA. I log on to apaonline. I click on the bright red "Register" link on the homepage, and it takes me to an 'events' page with this sort of calendar interface, as if I'm searching for flights, you know? So I enter the appropriate date range, and it prompts me for the city, and I type Washington. Then... then what? I click 'filter' but nothing happens. Friends, Smokers, frokers, please tell me what I'm doing wrong. (And DON'T say "you're using apaonline, is what you're doing wrong." Cuz I know, I know... I blame myself.)

Well, how?

--Mr. Zero