Each teacher has a different teaching method. Whether it’s lectures, classroom activities, outdoor or mixed reading, there’s no doubt that some are more effective than others.
But what counts more: the method or the passion?
College teachers have a particularly important role. Unlike high school teachers, middle school teachers teach highly sought after and very expensive courses. They must give students the education they pay for.
When students make their schedules, they check the reputation of each teacher. Are they strict on deadlines? Are they easy to contact and ready to answer questions about the material? Are the courses easy to follow? These are questions that cross the minds of students when choosing a teacher.
One of the most common teaching methods is the lecture. While many students find lectures to be boring, when done correctly they can be very effective. When teachers make connections between ideas, show an overview of the lesson, and focus on a few main points each lesson period, lectures can be a great way to promote retention of material.
LSU history professor Gaines Foster hopes his “lectures will help students master the content, the substance of the story behind these interpretations, but also see a pattern for how to construct an interpretation or an argument. about history”.
To reinforce the information provided by his lectures, Foster also provides an overview of each class, so that students can easily follow along. Rather than just reading a PowerPoint presentation, Foster finds ways to engage her students with the course material, displaying her passion for history in every lecture.
Foster has a high rating of 4.4 on RateMyProfessors.com. One student gave it a stellar review saying, “Professor Foster is so knowledgeable and…is super caring and approachable!” Another said: ‘He was so kind and always ready to help students. Although his teaching methods are very effective, what seems to be most important to his students is his passion for his work and his concern for the success of his students.
Assistant professor of political science Anna Gunderson also chooses to use lectures to teach. As a professor of political science, Gunderson has a responsibility to ensure that his students fully understand the material and why what they are learning is important.
Gunderson said the most important questions his students need to keep in mind are “Why do we care? Why should we care? She says an effective way to keep students engaged during class is to “ask them questions that probe and challenge simple concepts.”
“I consider it a privilege to teach, and I’m thrilled to do so,” Gunderson said. “I think the excitement is palpable, and students can tell – if you’re passionate about the material, they’re more likely to pay attention and learn.”
Students who reviewed Gunderson on RateMyProfessors.com describe her as “open-minded and informative”, while saying that she is “extremely understanding and sincerely wants you to learn the material”. Her classes are described as “engaging”, but again, her passion and care for students seems to trump her teaching methods.
Lectures are a great way to teach because teachers can very easily incorporate other methods into this style. For example, Foster assigns readings outside to supplement his lectures. These readings are used to reinforce the ideas he teaches in class and are questioned on tests and quizzes as well as course material. Gunderson chooses to engage students more by asking questions and encouraging his students to relate the concepts they learn through the lectures to current events.
When professors truly care about what they teach, they will find a way to keep students engaged and interested. These two professors are excellent examples of passion, valuing a teaching method often decried by students.
Although students do not find lectures to be the most effective form of teaching, it may not be the method that is the problem, but rather the professor’s lack of passion for the subject.
Mia Coco is a 19-year-old political communications student from Alexandria.