Student, faculty communication must be improved
One topic several students mentioned was that many of the introductory classes are too big for professors to get to know students, but professors still encourage students to come to office hours despite the supply of office hours being dramatically smaller than the demand for them. At the other end, even in some of the smaller classes professors can sometimes feel distant.
I guess I have to believe these students want better and closer relationships with professors. But I've not been witness to it...ever.ReplyDelete
Seems like a thoughtful piece, and I appreciate that the student describes the problem in some detail, and presents her conclusions more tentatively. That's a refreshing change from the know-it-all tone that characterizes many student opinion pieces (and which may be as much the fault of what students have been taught about argumentation and what makes a "strong" argument as of the students themselves).ReplyDelete
I'd guess that the underlying problems include not only the obvious one -- how much faculty and students *really* want to spend more time with each other -- but also things such as how faculty-student ratios and class sizes are calculated (undoubtedly in ways that makes personal interaction seem much more of a possibility than it really is), and other demands on both professors' and students' time. There's also the question of how many professors teaching smaller lower-division classes are adjuncts, or at least teaching a punishingly large load. In short, I think the author is still idealistic and hopeful (as befits a freshperson), but, if she pursues her questions a bit further, may, sadly, discover that the picture the numbers (and the administrators) paint doesn't fit the facts on the ground.
The article speaks to me. You see I went on my current path after my experiences at a large R1 as an undergraduate. I was pissed as a student (yes I was an odd, rare flake) that most of my intro courses were taught by professors that cared far more about their research. The professors that were excellent teachers would not get tenure. These big schools drone on about retention blah, blah, blah, blah...How about hiring people that a good at teaching and reward them with tenure? They solve the problem relying on adjuncts that lack an office and are busily running from campus to campus to make enough to buy food and pay rent. Sometimes they solve the problem hiring Lecturers that are technically faculty, but have no faculty voting rights and a two year contract! I do mostly enjoy what I do and I want to teach these flakes, because there are one or two students every semester that make me smile. I have wine to deal with the ones I want to strangle.ReplyDelete
I come from a research background and I understand the importance of research and the grant money that pours in (albeit slowly now). I do think providing well supported, knowledgeable "teachers" is also an important function of the University.
I used to think this, having been an undergraduate at a private R1 that thought so highly of itself, it didn't hesitate to call itself "the Harvard of the Midwest." My professors repeatedly told us undergraduate we were "a necessary evil" and "a nuisance." I resolved to take my teaching duties seriously, in addition to my research, and I think I've by and large succeeded.Delete
Life loves its ironies, of course. Now I get no shortage of students who squander the opportunities I knock myself out to make for them. I hate that "dead" look in their eyes, one reason being that it's contagious. I am going to do my best to keep making opportunities for the 2 out of 20 students who genuinely do want to learn, but so help me, I am starting to see the merit in the sink-or-swim approach.
Froderick, did we ever look at the telescope together at Crow Observatory? I used to go as an undergrad.Delete
@Cindy: No, I was at Lindheimer Astronomical Research Center. More than one private R1 calls itself "the Harvard of the Midwest," and there's also Michigan.Delete
"...many Tulane students, especially freshmen, feel that their relationships with their professors are decent at best." Nope, I won't say it. Too easy.ReplyDelete
OK, then I will:Delete
AND INDECENT, AT WORST!
So there. Come to think of it, it was unwholesome.