Six things college students want from an instructor.
As a college student who works 20+ hours per week, while trying to apply for jobs/internships, maintain a social life, spend time with my family, attend events in Fargo, and take 18 credits… I occasionally struggle for energy and motivation to go to class. It becomes a lot easier when the professor or instructor makes the class fun. We also like when he/she builds a relationship with us, and shows us that they care about our education, experience, and us as students at NDSU.
So how do you become an amazing and memorable instructor?
- Don’t let me fall asleep.
Even though it’s 10:00 a.m., I may have been up really late doing homework. Or I didn’t get very good sleep because I was worried about an exam the next day. So sometimes, I struggle to stay awake during the class. I have found that I can pay attention so much better when the professor is excited to teach. Show inflection in your voice and get really into your lectures; that shows me that you want to be there for more than a paycheck. And that makes me want to be a part of that with you.
Some of the most influential people I have met since college have been a few of my college professors. They are the ones who get to know me in class, and will remember me outside of class.
- Ask what my name is.
If I raise my hand in class and answer a question, I like when you ask for my name. It shows me that you are trying to build a relationship with me and get to know me as more than a face in a group.
- Be funny. Joke where you can.
I have found that a majority of my classmates enjoy a class so much more if professors use analogies with humor, or crack jokes in class. It shows us that you’re trying your best to make the class enjoyable for us. It shows us that you are having fun and enjoy what you do. It shows us that you can relate what you are teaching to our everyday lives and really understand what you are talking about.
OTL tip: Read, Faculty Focus’ blog post titled, You’re Funnier Than You Think: Using Humor in the Classroom for helpful tips.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to me outside of class.
Some of the most influential people I have met since college have been a few of my college professors. They are the ones who get to know me in class, and will remember me outside of class. I have sat and had lunch off campus with a professor who happened to be at the same place as me. He asked if he could sit with me and we enjoyed great conversation over our sandwiches. These are the professors I remember the most…the ones who appreciate me as a student and who aren’t afraid to talk to me outside the classroom.
If you strive to be a better instructor and want to make an impact become memorable to your students…
- Put some thought into your course materials, and submit them early.
As college students, we are running a tight budget and try to get by as cheap as we can. Think about how you use your assigned course materials…do you assign homework from them? Do you assign readings that we are tested on or are they for our reference? Are your tests based mainly off in-class lecture/PowerPoints or do you have a lot of test questions from the assigned course material? These are things we as students like to know ahead of time. If I can succeed in the course and understand what you would like me to learn, just from coming to class every day and actively participating, I would rather learn that way and be able to save some money on course materials. However, by submitting your textbook order to the bookstore early/on time, they are able to find the best possible prices for us by sourcing from various vendors. Also, by thoughtfully choosing whether to make your materials required or recommended, the bookstore can also determine a more accurate book count of how many to order in and stay cost efficient for us.
- Understand that we are still college kids.
We are technically considered adults, yes. But we are young. We want to have fun and enjoy our years here at NDSU. We want to make the most of each day; sometimes that means taking 3 naps. Sometimes that means being productive and finishing all of our homework before noon. And sometimes, that means going out on a weeknight into the late hours of the night when we should really be in bed. Professors that say things like “this is a much smaller class than most days…must have been mug night last night!” are awesome. They are down to earth and understand how we live our lives. We appreciate that.
If you strive to be a better instructor and want to make an impact and become memorable to your students, consider these changes. Your students will thank you.
NDSU Agribusiness major
May 2018 graduate