Challenges and dilemas faced by the university new teacher
Los dilemas y retos que enfrenta el profesorado novel universitario


Universidad Central del Ecuador


Dra. Margarita Angélica Medina Nicolalde


Dr. Milton Patricio Tapia Calvopiña


Dr. Milton David Tapia Medina






          The new university teachers should be concerned about the dilemmas they face in their professional performance and the challenges they must face nowadays, in the institutions of higher education, which has an impact on the effectiveness of the teaching process. The aim of this study is to describe and analyze the problems faced by the new university teaching staff and the new challenges in their educational work and its impact on the student’s learning process, for which a systematic bibliographic review was carried out. The teaching staff has adequate training in the different disciplinary areas, but they have poor pedagogical training and social skills. In the first years of teaching, they face a reality for which they were not prepared, in which they are not only teaching but also have to fulfill other kind of activities such as: teaching, researching, academic managing and linking with the society.

          Keywords: University teaching staff. Novice teacher. Higher education. Teaching activities.



          En las instituciones de educación superior deben preocuparse del profesorado universitario novel por los dilemas que enfrenta en su desempeño profesional y los retos que debe enfrentar en la actualidad lo que repercute en la enseñanza eficaz. El objetivo de este estudio describir y analizar sobre los problemas que enfrenta el profesorado novel universitario y los nuevos retos en su quehacer educativo y su incidencia en el aprendizaje de los estudiantes, para lo cual se realizó una revisión bibliográfica sistemática. El profesorado cuenta con una adecuada formación en las diferentes áreas disciplinares, pero presentan una deficiente formación pedagógica y en habilidades sociales, en los primeros de docencia enfrenta una realidad a la que no estuvo preparado, en la no solo se dedica a la docencia sino por lo contrario las actividades que deben cumplir son de: docencia, investigación, dirección o gestión académica y vinculación con la sociedad.

          Palabras clave: Profesorado universitario. Profesor novel. Educación superior. Actividades docentes.


Reception: 04/05/2017 - Acceptance: 11/11/2017


1st Review: 10/09/2017 - 2nd Review: 11/06/2017


Lecturas: Educación Física y Deportes, Revista Digital. Buenos Aires, Año 22, Nº 234, Noviembre de 2017. http://www.efdeportes.com/

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    In the report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development entitled "Teachers are important: attracting, training and retaining efficient teachers" (OECD, 2009), it is highlighted the important role that teachers play in the learning process:

    "The quality of the teachers and their way of teaching are more important factors to get the students to have good results [...]. It is also evident that the effectiveness of teachers varies from one to another. The differences related to the student’s performance are often greater within the same school than from one school to another. Teaching is a demanding job and it is not possible for all those involved to be effective professionals and to remain that way through time (OECD, 2009, p.17).

    Marcelo (2001) writes about some questions that teachers should consider: "We have entered a society that demands from the professionals a permanent training and learning activity. And for this reason it is necessary to answer several questions such as: How do these changes affect teachers? How should we rethink the teacher's work in these new circumstances? How should new teachers be trained? Which are the main professional skills the teachers must develop? How do we adapt the knowledge and attitudes of teachers to respond and take advantage of the new opportunities that the information society offers us? What new educational and school scenarios are possible / desirable? (p.532).

    The university has to face quick changes and different challenges that occur in society so it must be able to adapt itself in order to form cultured and lucid human beings who can interpret reality (Lang & others, 2012; Tim Butler University of East London & Mike Savage Keele University, 2013; Littlewood, Glorieux & Jönsson, 2017), to foresee new ways, to contribute to the creation of new models that help in the solution of problems and to integrate the uncertainty into rationality (López, 2004), and be able to generate and lead changes in society and influence in a forceful, permanent and effective way in all areas (Barrón, 2009).

    At present day, higher education institutions mutate (Siemens & Matheos, 2012; Astin, 2012; Kwiek, 2014; Hazelkorn, 2015). However, in a context that seems to be dominated by technologies, once again, the figure of the university teaching staff emerges as the central structure of the new building, which, like many other professionals, must reconstruct a professional identity adapted to the new roles and functions that will be developed in the new performance scenarios (Rodríguez, 2003).

    The scenarios of professional performance where the university professor develops his activity experience unstoppable changes (Más, 2011), these changes have to do with the transition of professions and disciplines towards the frontiers of knowledge and its paradigms, the complexity, inter and transdisciplinarity; the transculturality and the ecology of knowledge in the management of knowledge itself and its learning; the social innovation as a consequence of the integration of the three substantive functions of higher education (teaching, research and links with society) (Larrea, 2016). In the same way they have been modified the forms of production, labor relations, science, technology, the ways of creating and disseminating culture, the excessive amount of information, the way students learn by solving problems have been modified. participation, decision-making, curiosity, the opening to their environment and being respectful of the other, the scientific inquiry, learning to deal with contexts of permanent and quick change, in their students ensuring significant learning opportunities to be as close as they can be to the reality for all, so it is necessary to have a university teaching staff ready to face these challenges (Rodríguez et al., 2017, Rodríguez & Altamirano, 2016, Da Silva & Tejada, 2016 Cebrián & Junyent, 2014, Vezub & Alliaud, 2012, Más, 2011, López, 2004).

    The aim of this study is to describe and analyze the problems faced by the new university teaching staff and the new challenges in their educational work and their impact on the student’s learning, for which a systematic bibliographic review was carried out.


    For the making this work, it has been considered what was proposed by Sánchez & Botella (2010), applicable to revisions. In this sense, it is intended to answer the question of the problems faced by the new university teaching staff in its professional performance. For this purpose, a search of studies was carried out according to the following criteria for the selection of material related to: new university professors, university teachers’ competences and problems faced by the new teachers. Once the selection criterion of the studies was established, the search process was carried out.

    An exhaustive review of scientific literature was carried out from 51 bibliographical sources, the materials used were research articles, theoretical articles, books and doctoral theses made during the 1995-2017 period. The search engines used for the review were ISOC (Social Sciences and Humanities), Redalyc, Dialnet Plus and Google Academic with the following keywords: new university teaching staff, university professors, university teaching staff’s competences and problems faced by the new teachers.

    Based on the scientific literature analyzed, an interpretative review of the information found was made, distinguishing between research studies and theoretical works. In relation to the analysis of the information, this was carried out in an inductive manner. As the material was studied, different elements and foundations emerged in relation to the problems faced by the new teachers and their impact on their professional performance which in order to facilitate a better understanding and exposure were divided according to a double vision: from the perspective of the theory and from the perspective of the person who teaches (new university professor) the problems he faces and the new challenges he must face confront in the university (Abad et al., 2013; Sánchez, 2010).

The novel teacher

    The Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy of Language defines the term novel as:

1. adj. Who starts practicing an art or a profession, or has little experience in them. U. t. c. s.

    Any applicant to a place of work that performs a process of initial formation, which begins to exercise a trade or other activity and is still inexperienced in it, is considered novel (Bozu, 2009, p.320).

    It is understood by beginners, those aspiring teachers to a job, who have graduated from the initial training programs (undergraduate) and start to practice their profession. To differentiate this population of teachers, it is usually made a reference to the number of years in the teaching career. Some authors place it between the first and third year; in higher education it can be extended, approximately, until the first seven years (Jiménez, Angulo & Soto, 2010).

The beginning in teaching

    In Ecuador, when new regulations were implemented, the university teachers with experience retired and later these vacancies were filled with new teachers. In higher education institutions, the university teaching staff has access to teaching with a wide preparation as specialists in different disciplinary areas, but on the other hand, they have a poor pedagogical training and social skills. University teachers are professionals who rigorously master the technical contents related to the subject they teach, but they lack specific pedagogical training to carry out the effective delivery of their teaching (Carrillo, 2015; Sánchez & Mayor, 2006). This has an impact on their teaching management, on the relationships between teachers and between teachers and students (Benedito, Imbernón & Félez, 2001).

    The initiation to teaching is the period that covers the first years. It is a stage of intensive tensions and learning in generally unknown contexts, during which the new teachers must acquire professional knowledge, in addition to the maintenance of a certain personal balance (Marcelo, 1999). Veenman (1984, cited by Tolentino, Rodríguez & Martínez, 2011) related to the situation experienced by many teachers in their first year of teaching, a process of intense learning of the trial-error type, determined by a principle of survival and the predominance of the ethics of the practical, which is called "reality shock". The particular characteristics of the work, the specific conditions in which it starts and other factors of a personal nature will greatly determine the development of this period and the associated problems to it, the new teacher affirms that there is a lack of support from the department and university and they regret a lack of initial training in university teaching (Feixas, 2002).

    The new teachers are subjected to tensions, where they begin to socialize with their new classmates and the rest of the educational community and experience possible problems in their management of the class (Del Castillo et al., 2008).

    At present, it is considered important the formation of the new teachers and their incidence in the educational task. For this reason, studies related to this topic have been carried out. Thus, a group of several university professors from different Spanish universities (AENUI- Association of University Teachers of Information Technology) prepared, at the beginning of 2006, a guide for the new teacher in which the reader can find 70 tips that can be used to help the new teacher in his work of directing the learning of his students, counting on a baggage quite wider than the simple intuition. Although this book does not cover many aspects of university teaching, the authors of the "Guide for the novice teacher" propose some tips that can help the new teacher in his work of directing the teaching and learning process of his students, counting with concrete and applicable advices and directing some actions that the experience has shown them to be important and useful (Cernuda et al., 2005).

The new teachers face the new educational scenarios. There is a long way from the saying to the fact

    The new teachers face unknown contexts, which generates tensions and the need to acquire a professional knowledge that allows them to maintain a certain personal balance, for that reason the factors involved are studied, to mention an essential example, in employability, as defined in Rodríguez et al. (2016) quotes Geeregat, Cifuentes & Villarroel (2016). In these first years the teacher frequently lives with uncertainty, the change in the way of perceiving the time, the internal crisis he faces due to the ignorance of many things, the indecision and feeling of incapacity before the new tasks and demands that must face in the teaching The result of these insecurities is the difficulty of facing new challenges and solving the difficulties of the university teaching task (Benedito, Imbernón & Félez, 2001, Vezub & Alliaud 2012, Buckingham & Willett, 2013).

    Novice teachers generally face unknown contexts, which generates tensions and the need to acquire professional knowledge that allows them to maintain a certain personal balance. The first years sometimes represent a "clash with reality", it is a process of intense learning -of the trial-error type in most cases-, and characterized by a survival principle, and by a predominance of the value of the practical (Marcelo, Gallego-Domínguez & Mayor, 2016, Marcelo et al., 2016). The imbalance that occurs between the theoretical and ideal schemes learned in institutions and the complex, dizzying and chaotic functioning of the reality at school. The distance between the training received and the urgencies of the practice. The theoretical (or practical) models learned "clash" with reality, with the characteristics of the classrooms and of certain students. It is common for new teachers to feel limited / unable to work with "difficult" students from different cultural contexts, since they cannot adapt themselves or generate effective teaching methods (Vezub & Alliaud 2012).

    It is a period of tensions and intensive learning in generally unknown contexts and during which the new teachers must build professional knowledge in addition to maintain a certain personal balance.

    Most beginning teachers live their first year of work in teaching as a problematic and stressful experience; where they develop their own professional identity: a self-concept about how I am as a teacher and, at the same time, they have to learn how to use the personal available resources to successfully face teaching situations. There is also a process of change and reorganization of the knowledge, values, attitudes and concepts that the teacher has developed during his initial training process, until the beginning teacher manages to develop his own teaching style (Bozu, 2010; 2009).

    For many young teachers, it is a solitary learning, without special aids and, therefore, fundamentally, a learning experience. He lacks of free time, is recharged of bureaucratic work, has excessive teaching load, also has doubts regarding subjects about discipline, motivation and attention of the individual differences of their students and lacks a variety of didactic strategies that can be used in the process of teaching and learning (Rodríguez, 2015).

    According to Marcelo (2009), beginners are more concerned with step-by-step instructions, and the "how" questions than about the "why" and "when" issues of teaching. Therefore, he proposes to incorporate these two aspects, undermined by the new ones, to achieve an "effective" professional development, capable of generating innovations and going beyond skills oriented to the "efficiency" and adaptation to new situations. The main tasks faced by the novice teachers are the following: to acquire knowledge about the students, the curriculum and the school context, to design the curriculum and teaching properly, to begin to develop a teaching repertoire that allows them to survive as teachers, to create a community of learning in the classroom and continue to develop their professional identity (Marcelo & Vaillant, 2009).

    While learning the rules of their institutional work contexts, the beginning teachers are concerned about maintaining discipline and control of the class. Some studies have identified the uncritical imitation of behaviors observed in other teachers, the isolation of their peers, the difficulty to transfer the knowledge acquired in their training stage and the development of a technical conception of teaching, is in a process of learning to teach (Vezub & Alliaud, 2012). Therefore, the new teachers deploy a series of strategies, among which predominate: the abandonment of the initial optimism, the adaptation to institutional culture, school routines and the status quo established by the most experienced colleagues (Rodríguez et al., 2016).

    Some problems faced by the new teachers have been identified, the same ones that are raised by Marcelo, Gallego-Domínguez & Mayor (2016); Alliaud (2014); Vezub & Alliaud (2012); Negrillo & Iranzo (2009), Sánchez & Mayor (2006); Imbernón (2004) and Feixas (2002). These problems are detailed in a general way in table 1:

Table 1. List of problems faced by the new teachers in the universities


  • Planning: preparation of programs, exams, practical activities, ability to relate your subject to others, etc.
    - Methodology: mastery of the different teaching methods, sufficient and diverse teaching strategies, resources and means, dynamics of working groups, type of questions, treatment of individual differences, etc.

  • Evaluation: evaluation for large groups, assessment of the student by his global attitude, how to write the exercises, etc.

  • Staging: movements in the classroom, gesticulation, tone of voice, use of language (phrases), communication in the classroom with students, expressiveness, etc.


  • Institutional context: the administrative processes that must be performed in the university, how to carry out the channels to process certain issues, tasks entrusted to the Coordinator or Director, how to process the request for research projects and links with society, and grants, etc.

  • Working conditions: available material, quality of the classrooms, pressure of time, tasks of preparation of work and school planning and schedule.

  • His participation in decision making.


  • Teacher-student relationships: motivation, discipline, disruptive behavior of students, awakening the interest of students, achieving student’s participation, problems related to the mass, tutorials, etc.

  • Relations with colleagues and authorities.

    The new teacher abandons his teaching work for being unsatisfied with his work due to low salaries, discipline problems with the students, lack of support, and few opportunities to participate in decision making (Marcelo, Gallego-Domínguez & Mayor, 2016).

In addition to teaching, what should new teachers do at the university?

    Higher education institutions must promote an academic model that is characterized by the investigation of problems in their contexts; the production and transfer of the social value of knowledge; the joint work with the communities; scientific, technological, humanistic and artistic research based on the explicit definition of problems to be addressed, a fundamental solution for the development of the country or region, and the well-being of the population; an active work of dissemination, linked to the creation of citizen awareness based on respect for human rights and cultural diversity; an extension work that enriches the training, collaborates in detecting problems for the research agenda and creates spaces for joint action with different social actors, especially the most neglected ones. (UNESCO, 2008, p. 18-19).

    The university activity is developed under three parameters fundamentally. The university professor is entrusted with teaching tasks, and education is a social act that is constructed through communicative action, understood as the process by which we exchange ideas and affections. In addition to teachers, university professors carry out research tasks, to create scientific knowledge and thus improve their scientific field, to offer new methodological proposals adapted to their students and subjects, to innovate in their reality and in their context; this commits them to work teams with whom they carry out various projects, for they are asked to manage resources, process documents and carry out management activities. Thus, the university teaching staff is characterized by being professionals with a triple role, since they have to divide the time of their activity between teaching, research and management tasks. But there is a nuance: the central and most awarded activity is research (Sánchez & Mayor, 2006; Más, 2011).

    Regarding to the activities of the academic staff, higher education institutions of Ecuador are ruled according to the Career and Ladder Regulations of the Professor and Researcher of the Higher Education System, as determined in Article 6.- Activities of the academic staff.- The professors and researchers of public and private universities and polytechnic schools, holders and non-holders can fulfill the following activities: a) Teaching, b) Research, and, c) Management or academic management. (CES, 2017a), the following is detailed in each of them in table 1.

Table 2. Activities of academic staff

Regulation of Career and Promotion Ladder of the Professor and Researcher of the System of Superior Education (Codification)

Teaching activities
(Art. 7)

Research activities
(Art. 8)

Management activities and academic direction
(Article 9)

1. Teaching face-to-face, virtual or online classes, of a theoretical or practical nature, in the institution or outside it, under the responsibility and direction of the same;
2. Preparation and updating of classes, workshops, among others;
3. Design and elaboration of books, didactic material, educational guides or syllabus;
4. Guidance and accompaniment through face-to-face or virtual tutorials, individual or group;
5. Field visits, tutorials, in-service teaching and dual training in areas such as health (training in hospitals), law (guided litigation), agricultural sciences (training in the learning scenario), among others;
6. Management, tutorials, monitoring and evaluation of pre-professional internships or practices;
7. Preparation, application and qualification of exams, assignments and practices;
8. Direction and tutoring of works for obtaining the degree, with the exception of doctoral theses or research master's degrees;
9. Direction and participation of experimental projects and teaching innovation;
10. Design and delivery of continuing education or training and updating courses;
11. Participation in social, artistic, productive and business projects related to society linked to teaching and educational innovation;
12. Participation and organization of academic groups for debate, training or exchange of methodologies and teaching experiences;
13. Pedagogical use of research and systematization as support or part of teaching;
14. Participation as professors who will teach the leveling courses of the National Leveling and Admission System (SNNA); and,
15. Guidance, training and support to the academic staff of the SNNA.

1. Design, direction and execution of basic, applied, technological and art research projects, involving creation, innovation, dissemination and transfer of the results obtained;
2. Carrying out research for the recovery, strengthening and strengthening of ancestral knowledge;
3. Design, preparation and implementation of methodologies, instruments, protocols, operational or research procedures;
4. Research carried out in laboratories, documentary centers and other facilities authorized for this function, as well as in social and natural environments;
5. Counseling, tutoring or directing doctoral theses and research masters;
6. Participation in congresses, seminars and conferences to present progress and results of their research;
7. Design, management and participation in local, national and international research networks and programs;
8. Participation in committees or academic and editorial boards of scientific and academic indexed journals, and of high scientific or academic impact;
9. Dissemination of results and social benefits of research, through publications, artistic productions, performances, concerts, creation or organization of installations and exhibitions, among others;
10. Direction or participation in academic debate groups for the presentation of advances and results of investigations;
11. Linkage with society through research and innovation projects with social, artistic, productive and business purposes;

12. The provision of services to the external environment, which do not generate economic benefits for the IES or for its academic staff, such as: specialized laboratory analysis, judicial expertise, as well as collaboration in the documentary technical review for state institutions. Participation in institutional consultancy work will not be recognized as a research activity within the time commitment.

1. The government and management of public or private universities and polytechnic schools;
2. The direction and management of the teaching and research processes in their different levels of academic and institutional organization;
3. The organization or direction of national or international academic events;
4. The performance of positions such as: director or coordinator of higher education careers, postgraduate courses, research centers or programs, links with the community, academic departments, academic publisher, or editorial director of a publication;
5. Reviewer of an indexed or refereed journal, or of a peer-reviewed publication;
6. The exercise as a teaching representative to the highest academic collegiate body of a university or polytechnic school;
7. Design of career projects and undergraduate and graduate degree programs;
8.Management activities or academic management in the spaces of inter-institutional collaboration, such as: delegations to public organizations, representation before the Assembly of the Higher Education System, the Regional Consultative Committees of Higher Education Planning. among others;
9.Integration as directors of the bodies that govern the Higher Education System (CES and CEAACES); in these cases, the dedication will be recognized as a full-time equivalent;
10. Exercise of academic positions at a higher hierarchical level in the Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation; in these cases, the dedication will be recognized as a full-time equivalent;
11. Exercise of scientific managerial positions in public research institutes;
12. Participation as evaluators or external academic facilitators of the CES, CEAACES and SENESCYT or other public research or technological development organization;
13. Management activities in scientific or academic societies of recognized prestige; and,
14. Other management activities related to the ordinary academic processes of the institution.

Activities of connection with society
(Article 10)

In universities and public and private polytechnic schools, the activities of connection with society must be framed within the activities of teaching, research or academic management.

Source: CES (2017a) Regulation of Career and Labber of the Professor and Researcher of the System of Superior Education

    Higher education institutions select and promote their professors, preferably using criteria of excellence related to the research function. The problem lies on the fact that the current academic culture only recognizes as merit an specific type of production: impact indexes in specialized international journals. The evaluation of teaching competences, didactic publications and other academic merits is always residual because the prestige of a university professor is built from his research curriculum, the social relevance of the positions he performs. The concern to provide a quality education and the results obtained in it do not constitute any merit for promotional purposes. The dominant culture and values ​​in university institutions is a total predominance of research on teaching, to such an extent that we reward good researchers by freeing them of "teaching load" and do not recognize the labor of good teachers by their dedication and know-how. (De Miguel, 2003). Mayor (1996) quotes Ballantine (1989) who affirms that university professors are highly respected for their research work, not teaching, in particular areas. Many teachers consider teaching as an interference to their research and publications, and many others gain high prestige through a second job (consultations, offices...).

    The aforementioned, is also evident in Ecuador where research is one of the important elements to be promoted if you are a teacher, and it is so that the Regulation of Career and Labber of the Professor and Researcher of the Higher Education System requested for the promotion of the titular academic staff, having created or published relevant works or articles indexed in the field of knowledge linked to their teaching or research activities; professional updating in learning and research methodologies, and the rest in the field of knowledge linked to their teaching or research activities; it is also mandatory to have directed or participated in one or more research projects; have directed or co-directed professional qualification master's works, research master's thesis or doctoral thesis (CES, 2017a).

    Higher education institutions must link their training process with the world of work to take advantage of these actions as an educational tool that enables learning at work and curricular update, respond to social needs, and particularly show respect for cultures and environmental protection. They have to provide professional services, including technology transfer, which contribute to social, economic and technological development, promote a way to integrate theory and practice and apply knowledge and research results to current problems. Thus, encouraging the spirit of enterprise and the corresponding capabilities and initiatives has to become one of the main concerns of higher education. Special attention should be given to the functions of higher education at the service of society, and more specifically to activities aimed at eliminating poverty, intolerance, violence, illiteracy, hunger, environmental degradation and diseases, and the activities aimed at the promotion of peace, through an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach (UNESCO, 1998, Gould, 2002).

    The Regulation of Academic Regime in relation to the Linkage with the Society in Art. 82 determines the following: [...] Higher education institutions must have a model of connection with society, which ensures the integration of the three substantives functions of higher education: teaching, research and links with society; for the management of knowledge according to their domains, lines of research, current academic offer and needs of the community at the local, national and regional levels; responding to the principle of relevance. Institutions of higher education may create specific institutional instances to manage the link with society, in order to generate programs, specific projects or interventions of public interest (CES, 2017b).

    The link with society is one of the important pillars in the functioning and development of a career that along with teaching and research is the stage for the generation and construction of knowledge and learning from the social practice that is oriented to the development and social change.


    The institutions of higher education face mutations in a dizzying way they were not prepared for. This demands the university professors to have the necessary competences that allow them to perform efficiently their work. The changes that have taken place in Ecuador have caused the university experienced teaching staff to retire and these vacancies are filled with new teachers.

    The study has allowed to identify certain problems that should be considered by educational institutions in relation to the new university teaching staff:

    The new university teaching staff has a great importance in higher education institutions, so they must have training processes that allow them to have success in teaching, research, management or academic management, as well as in the relationship with society.


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