|Getting to know your professors and
other instructors can have many benefits. Most of them are
interesting people and knowledgeable about many topics beyond
their own discipline. You may discover that you have common
interests that can be the basis for a good relationship long
after you have finished the course. You may also find that a
particular field is much more interesting to you than you
previously thought because you have made the effort to interact
with your instructor. It is not unusual for decisions about
college majors to originate with a good student-professor
relationship. Finally, professors may have information about
special opportunities like summer internships, competitive
awards, graduate programs, etc. that you might overlook. A
professor who knows you may be the key to your becoming aware of
these special opportunities.
Attend class: Professors
may say they donít care about class attendance. Donít believe
it. They notice whoís there and whoís not. Showing up
communicates that you care about the subject and validates the
instructor's position as mentor.
Sit in front: It's easier
to hear, easier to pay attention and easier to "read" the
instructor's cues as to what information is important. It's also
easier for the instructor to notice that you are engaged with
Arrive on time: Nothing
will create a bad impression as much as causing a disturbance.
If your instructor reacts badly to tardy students it might be
better to skip the class entirely than to incur his or her
Be courteous in class:
This doesn't mean that you have to agree with everything the
instructor or your fellow students say. Sometimes the best class
discussions are the result of disagreement. What is necessary is
that the participants are not hostile, demanding or treating
each other in a derogatory manner. Instructors appreciate
students who participate in a calm respectful manner, no matter
what they have to say.
Turn in assignments on time:
You want the professor to know who you are for the right
reasons. There is a definite relationship between students who
do poorly on tests, receive low final grades, or fail courses,
and those who turn assignments in late. Not to mention that your
instructor is on a schedule too and having to read and grade
late assignments will infringe on that schedule.
Give your instructor some slack:
Most professors are experts in their fields. Many of them are
not experts in psychometrics or applied learning. Realizing that
very few of them have had formal training in test construction
or in how to teach may help you to understand their occasional
shortcomings in these areas. Most good professors have gotten
that way by trial and error. Improved teaching often depends on
the kind of feedback they receive from students. Avoid being
negative in your comments. Specific, positive, constructive
feedback can really improve the learning situation.
Contest grades in a calm logical
manner: Grades are another area in which professors
and students sometimes disagree. Never discuss a grade when you
are angry. A test may have seemed unfair to you, but donít label
it as such when youíre discussing it with the professor. Be
specific but courteous when making your points. Remember,
regardless of how skillful your arguments are, the odds are that
your grade wonít be changed on that particular test. But, if you
make your points well, the next test may be much better
constructed and may seem to you to be a fairer measure of your
knowledge of the material.
Attend office hours:
Regardless of your interest in the course, make an appointment
to see each of your instructors. This should not just be a
courtesy call. It's purpose is to further your understanding of
what is going on in the class. Take the following steps to
enhance the appointment.
- Preview the course materials to familiarize yourself with
the topics for the rest of the term.
- Review your notes to find topics and issues you want
- Write down three or four questions about the course. What
are potential topics for papers or projects? Which material is
especially relevant and should be concentrated on? What is the
most effective way to study the material?