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Thoughts on Recreation Therapy for Reflection/Reaction #3

David R. Austin, Ph.D., CTRS, FALS
Indiana University

What follows are some thoughts on recreation therapy for your review and possible reaction.

Research Versus Teaching

For many years, there has been a public concern that universities emphasize research at the expense of teaching. As a graduate student in therapeutic recreation at the University of Illinois in the late 1960's and early 1970's, I can recall Illinois legislators "investigating" the number of hours faculty spent teaching each week. My recollection is that the average professor was in the classroom seven hours per week. At first blush it may seem that the seven hour average is not much time. It a prof works 40 hours each week, he or she should have 33 hours for other duties (and most faculty devote themselves to well over 40 hours of work each week). We must consider, however, that the University of Illinois and many other universities are major research universities. Some faculty at these institutions are employed as researchers who have no teaching assignment. Other faculty are primarily hired to do research so they may teach only one three-credit hour course per semester, or year. Due to many faculty having primarily research responsibilities, averages of faculty teaching loads can be misleading. One professor may not be teaching at all, while another may have a 12 hours teaching load.

Another factor to consider is that faculty engaged in research often produce revenue for their universities. Most of the research faculty are bringing in grants that pay their salaries, as well as support graduate research assistants and support staff. The university profits from the grants by receiving "indirect costs." These are monies that come with the grants in order to pay the university for providing work space, heating and cooling it, keeping walks free of snow in winter and the grass mowed in summer. A large university can receive millions of dollars annually in indirect cost money from faculty research grants. Thus monies derived through research have the potential to enhance all aspects of universities, including teaching.

Another aspect related to the research versus teaching controversy is that faculty receive tenure and promotions based in large measure on their research and scholarly productivity. Faculty are expected to contribute to the literature of their disciplines or professions. Without the publication of original research or scholarly works by faculty the body of knowledge would not grow. Research and scholarship take large amounts of time (Recall your student days and just how difficult it was to write a single term paper!). At schools where publication records are valued (and today "publish or perish" is true on most campuses), faculty have to apply themselves to building their list of publications.

The good news is that doing research and scholarship fits in nicely with teaching. First, if there were no body of knowledge, what would students learn? But teaching is far more than a one-way process of the professor pouring information into empty heads. Good teachers do not just engage in the passive process of dispensing knowledge into eager minds. Both good teachers and their students are actively involved in the learning process. Professors doing research and scholarship are continually learning themselves and then sharing their discoveries (and excitement for leaning) with their students. More and more, students are actually joining faculty in completing research and scholarship. This represents one of the highest levels of teaching.

Finally, even research universities are broadening the way they interpret scholarship. This, of course, can be extremely meaningful to faculty at tenure or promotion time. Many schools today encourage faculty to do pedological research in their disciplines and to create innovative teaching materials. Faculty scholarship can include research on teaching methods, the authoring of a landmark textbook, the development of instructional videos, or the construction of course materials for the World Wide Web.

Be skeptical the next time you hear cries for higher faculty teaching loads and reduced scholarship. Research and teaching do not have to stand in opposition to one another.

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I agree very much with the person that posted as anonymous on Saturday, August 20, 2005 at 00:46:20. And I'll add to it: If you wanted a high-payng job, you shouldn't have gone into TR. If you wanted to be a respected professional, why would you go into TR? I went into TR because I love kids, I love recreation, and I love teaching others my love for it, and using recreation to see improvements. I don't expect to get paid a lot, I don't expect to be respected (geesh, I play with kids for a living, c'mon... also, to reply to the previous poster, my position is not respected, while I am. I have never had a supervisor that wasn't thrilled with what I do. I'm great at it and I know it, but that doesn't mean the position I'm holding doesn't sound wishy-washy at the end of the day to others.). And I'm okay with that. I also agree that NCTRC certification is becoming a waste of money. It seemed like a good idea to begin with, but throwing away that amount of money yearly on a certification that isn't recognized is silly. Licensure is just another step further, so why bother? And yes, someone with much less education than me can do my job. And it's not because I'm not doing it correctly. It's because expanding all pertinent TR knowledge into a 4-year degree is a waste of money. An internship is vital, as well as specific TR classes (not filled 75% with nothing... my TR classes were the easiest classes of my college career, and I took them at apparently one of the best TR departments in the country), so a 2-yr degree would probably suffice. Additionally, I also think it's true that persons with other degrees can do my job, like pscyh, SW, education, etc. Again, it's not because I'm not doing my job correctly; it's because they too have education/experience in the processes of the human mind, what motivates clients, developmental psych, goals and objectives to achieve certain outcomes, and what activities can be done to work at their goals. It's not rocket science, it's silly pretending it is. I'm a smart girl, but I'm glad that I'm in a career that's easy for me and I will have fun doing, even though I get a lousy paycheck.
USA - Tuesday, April 10, 2007 at 19:12:09 (CDT), IP Address: 6716317411

I need some articles about recreation for children because I have worked as teacher physical education also I am taking posgraduate about recreation I hope that you are send me some about this thank very much.Iam brazilian
andrea carlan lemos <afia*>
santa maria, rio grande do sul brazil university santa maria - Monday, September 29, 2003 at 07:34:50 (CDT)
I enjoyed your article. I am a student of Dr. Langsner's and we are searching the web for information on therapeutic recreation. We all wanted to say hi. Sincerely, Brooke Taylor Therpeutic Recreation Student
Brooke Taylor <bjt01*>
Fayetteville, AR USA University of Arkansas - Wednesday, June 13, 2001 at 10:02:23 (CDT)
Hi David, my name is Roy Matthews and I am a Personal trainer / Wellness coach her in England. Due to a difference of opinion with my recent employers (David Lloyd), I find myself unemployed and pining for progress. About four years ago, I found T.R. on the net and sent for your second edition book of practices and principles. After applying a combination of counselling skills, personal quality management (PQM) and physical peformance training, for about two years, I would like nothing more than to studie for either a diploma or degree in Thereputic Recreation. would either yourself or your secretary, contact me and help me to do a correspondence course. I have a dream to fullfill and within a practice to develop and deliver, here in England. Can you help me. Oh ps, I am 34 have dips in health & personal development.. health & socal care.. wellness and fitness coaching and counselling skills/ theroy and specific modules of a BA honours in humanities.
roy matthews <kevan*>
nottingham, Notts England Total Health and Wellbeing. - Monday, March 12, 2001 at 14:32:42 (CST)
Dear Dr. Austin, Although I have been out of college 12 years, I really feel that Recreation Therapy is in an exciting time. I only wish that I was challenged more in college to do research. I was in a doomed recreation therapy program at KSU (Manhattan KS). I am at an age now to appreciate the time and effort spent on research in a time of jobs in various fields being eliminated. Recreation seems to be a field that is growing and it is in my opinion because we have fine researchers and research in our favor. I have had a lot of help from a Book-"Leisure and Mental Health" David M. Compton. I have showed this research to several Physicians,Psychologist, and other disciplines that don't have a clue what Recreation Therapy can do to the individuals served. Please let me know if I can be of assistance in any research that you do. Karla Bryant CTRS
karla bryant CTRS <psydrec*>
Beatrice, NE USA Beatrice State Developmental Center - Wednesday, February 14, 2001 at 18:45:19 (CST)
Hello Dr. Austin, I am writing a paper for my Honors Speaking and Writing class on your profession, and I was wondering if you would be willing to fill out a survey for me. Please e-mail me back as soon as possible if you are able to help me out. Thank you! Sincerely, Kari Wieber
Kari Wieber <kariwieber*>
Mt. Pleasant, MI USA Central Michigan University - Tuesday, September 07, 1999 at 18:19:46 (CDT)
Dr. Austin, I enjoyed your article and I am interested in the topic. I am currently taking a class in issues in T.R. and I would like to know if you could provide me with any additional information on this topic. I am writting a paper and am wondering if you could point me in the righ direction to look for additional information on this subject. Thank You for your time. cdisciul*
Chris Di Sciullo <cdisciul*>
USA Lock Haven University Of Pennsylvania - Wednesday, February 11, 1998 at 18:04:38 (PST)


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