All course rating forms contain an item for determining the degree to which the instructor is perceived as being knowledgeable about the subject (field) dealt with in it by his or her students. To receive high ratings for this item, instructors must be both knowledgeable about the content of the courses they teach and communicate their being so to students. Some strategies are described in this chapter that can facilitate your achieving both objectives.
The need to be knowledgeable is considered here for both courses that are and are not in one’s area of expertise. The two are considered separately because the relevant issues are somewhat different.
You will, of course, be expected to be highly knowledgeable about the content of the courses you teach that deal largely with your areas of expertise. Your failure to be so can cause your colleagues to question your competence as a scholar as well as a teacher. Someone who doesn’t understand a field well is unlikely to be able to formulate research questions that are sufficiently original and meaningful to either earn him or her a strong national reputation as a scholar or be the recipient of substantial extramural funding. Both are requirements for tenure in some departments.