August 23, 2007
Responsibilities of a Lecturer
(This article is written in the context of Malaysian Private Colleges.)
Let’s start with the definition of the word lecturer by considering the word lecture.
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines lecture as,
“A talk giving information about a subject to an audience or a class, often as part of a teaching programme.”
So, a lecturer is a person who delivers lectures, especially at a college or university.
Now, what about the word teach?
From the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, teach means,
“to show somebody to do something so that they will be able to do it themselves.”
Do lecturers teach? The answer is definitely yes.
The primary role of a lecturer is to educate. However, a lecturer in Malaysian private colleges often wears many hats. Lecturers also play the roles as tutors, teachers, administrators and counsellors. Some lecturers may even need to be involved in marketing activities. In Universities, the role of a lecturer is better defined.
As a lecturer, these are the normal tasks:
i) First and foremost – lecture
ii) Prepare teaching materials – i.e. slides (if applicable) and handouts for students
iii) Set and mark assignments and examination papers
I feel that to be an all-rounded lecturer, the role is more than just giving a talk about a subject or setting and marking students’ work.
What are other roles do lecturer play these days?
A lecturer should also provide pastoral care to their students. Some students may be under tremendous pressure – family problems, boy-girl relationship issues, peer pressure, financial difficulties, etc. Most may not be able to cope well. When a student seems unmotivated and his/her attendance starts to dwindle, it’s advisable to counsel the student.
Well, there are lecturers who disagree saying, “I’m just a lecturer. Why should I handle such cases? Isn’t this the job of the Counsellor?”
Outside the home, and besides friends, I think lecturers have the most contact time with the student. In some cases, the lecturer may even know more about the student than their own parents. So, lecturers certainly do have the ability and capacity to perform this task.
During a counseling session, a lecturer could also get feedback from the students on the course or subject matter. This may be helpful to the lecturer to improve certain areas related to his/her teaching.
It is a good practice to document the counseling sessions with the students. This will enable the team to monitor the progress of the students, and provide feedback to their guardian if required.
Generally, it is important to maintain a good communication with the students, of course, within a healthy boundary.
What administration jobs do lecturers handle?
Lots of documentation is involved when it comes to quality assurance procedures. This includes preparing teaching and assignment schedule, minutes of meeting, weekly reports on teaching, and student feedback on assignment.
Some of you may be puzzled – why are lecturers involved in marketing activities?
- Lecturers know the course content better. Hence, can give better advice or information.
- There is a need to have more staff to counsel potential students during education fairs.
The tasks may include the following:
- Participate in education fairs and road shows
- Present career talks in Secondary Schools
- Prepare Counselling Kit to promote programmes
- Counsel potential students during Open Day
- Conduct workshops
List of other tasks:
- Research and Development
- Graduation planning
- Entertaining visiting lecturers
- Participating in extra curricular activities like clubs or societies.
Ultimately, what am I trying to point out?
If you want to venture into the education line as a lecturer, be aware of the responsibilities outside the scope of a lecturer. Be prepared to take up additional roles. Think and accept it positively as a path to career development.
Do not think that lecturers have an easy life. We play a vital role in forming and shaping future leaders.