I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, given certain circumstances I find myself in. And I’ve realized that in all my time at university (I’m entering my 6th year) I’ve had two great professors. The kind that inspire you, the student, with passion. Who explain clearly. The ones who teach the classes that you work hardest for, where you leave feeling it was worth it because you learned the most.
Two. Out of – lets take a pretty conservative estimate – thirty.
There were a few more who were good – they didn’t inspire the same level of passion, perhaps, but I at least got the impression that they cared about what they were teaching. A significant number just couldn’t seem to be bothered at all. They weren’t “present” in their presentations. They made something potentially interesting sleep inducing.
If this is typical in Computer Science, no wonder enrollment is dropping.
So what do these great instructors have in common? I feel these can be summed up into a concept of “Teaching Effectively, not Efficiently”. Efficient Teaching is putting all the concepts out there and trying to cram them into your students. Effective Teaching is sending your students away understanding the big picture and interested in learning the details that make it up.
- Passion. They believe in what they’re teaching and convey that to the class.
- Practicality. Being able to talk about the practical applications of something keeps students engaged.
- Understanding > Learning. Memorizing something is pointless if the student can’t apply it.
- Class Engagement. Class is interactive and doesn’t consist of a prof droning on whilst students fall asleep.
- Engaging Assignments. These profs set homework students want to do, not what’s in the textbook.
Anything I’ve missed?