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Comment and Opinion: Teaching, Learning and Research in McSchools of Pharmacy

Kevin M G Taylor, Geoffrey Harding

Abstract

As the intake of students into schools of pharmacy increases annually, the teaching and research activities of academic staff are increasingly under scrutiny. In this paper, we propose that there is clear evidence that a process of McDonaldisation is underway in universities, as institutions seek improvements in efficiency, and try to meet the requirements of various assessment exercises. In response to the pressures of rationalisation and increased surveillance, many academics have knowingly or unwittingly modified their activities.

Whilst rationalisation and accountability are not necessarily harmful, we argue that this process ultimately results in standardised learning experience for students, who have become consumers of an educational experience. Reduced opportunities for intelligent, reflexive thinking or for participating in small group learning exercises seriously compromises vocational students’ capability to communicate, problem-solve and exercise professional judgement. Moreover, McDonaldisation of research activities disregards idiosyncratic research in favour of predictable research, conducted for extrinsic reasons - most often ro generate income and increase publication output. Whilst most tenured academics may actively resist McDonaldisation, the employment of postdoctoral researchers on fixed, short-term contracts, and reliance on practitioner-teachers, contracted on an ad hoc basis, is evidence that McDonaldisation is established within schools of pharmacy. Ultimately, if the process of McDonaldisation is not robustly resisted, we will be left with McSchools of Pharmacy where scholarship is an anachronistic pursuit and academia becomes a career, rather than a vocation.


Keywords

McDonaldisation; Pharmacy education; Rationalisation; McSchools of pharmacy


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