When signing up for courses, many students are interested in which professor they should choose. Some rely on word-of-mouth, some check Rate My Professor, but at the end of the day, students want to know what kind of professor is teaching the course. The Echo staff decided to pool together our experiences with various professors at UTC to discuss the best and worst qualities in a professor.
Many of us feel that professors are a huge factor in whether or not we learn course material and whether or not we enjoy the course and become interested in the subject matter.
A good professor, in our opinion, is able to convince us that they know what they’re teaching inside and out. We become skeptical when we get the impression that a professor is not a master of the subject, which causes us to tune them out.
Along with mere experience, we think it is critical that the professor is interested in the subject. When we can see that a professor is passionate, that passion often sheds off on us. We are way more likely to study and engage with a subject if we can understand the importance of learning it. One staff member made the comment that adjunct professors are often the best because they tend to be more invested in the material and the students.
Another important quality in a professor is the ability to keep students entertained while in class. When students feel like they are merely being lectured to and not part of an active discussion, we think they are more likely to be on their phones or to zone out and not learn as much of the material. If a professor is lecturing, we think they should try to make it more interesting by bringing up relevant examples, making jokes, or engaging the class in some way. We really appreciate when professors come up with creative ways to teach, incorporating creative projects, videos or community engagement into their lessons.
We also think professors need to be well organized and need to communicate expectations clearly with students. If we don’t know what the expectations are, we will most likely fail to meet them. However, professors who “baby” their classes and beg students to participate or study can often make students feel less motivated to do work on their own. We think professors should make expectations clear and then enforce them strictly without acting offended by students who don’t study or participate.
Although the professor can definitely make or break a course, we also think most of the responsibility is on the individual student. We believe that even if a professor is inexperienced, disengaged, unwilling to help and disorganized, students can still gain something from the class if they really try.
Our advice? Go to class, pay attention, read your textbooks, talk to your professors, ask questions and participate in discussions. (And be sure to rate your professor when you’re done so we can all benefit from your experience.)