What makes an instructor interesting?

Photo by Scott Wells/Prospectus News Dr. Daniel Ryan works in his office on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. Ryan is the Coordinator for the First Year Experience II program.

Photo by Scott Wells/Prospectus News
Dr. Daniel Ryan works in his office on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. Ryan is the Coordinator for the First Year Experience II program.

Humna Sharif

Staff Writer
There are quite a few factors that contribute towards whether or not a class is likeable or interesting to students, and instructors undoubtedly play an important role in regards to that.
Students are in school to learn, and their own effort is the most important component in their success. An instructor’s interest in the class and their willingness to help students in trouble can make the difference between the student getting an A or C in the course. Instructors have the power to help students elevate their falling grades. A difficult course can turn into a bearable, even enjoyable, experience all because of how well the instructors are engaging the class.

“I generally look for someone who is very interested in their field and is excited to teach others about it,” Engineering Major Brittany Webb said. “I like to know that an instructor is really passionate about what they are teaching. It makes it easy to learn.”

The first day of class is also an important one. Instructors who let students know what their expectations are on the very first day of semester, and give out a clear syllabus plan, are very well liked by students.

“It’s important for instructors to mean what they say. I appreciate teachers who set very clear guidelines in the beginning and then stick to them,” Molly Rittenhouse, Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Health Professions, said.

According to students, having an instructor who always comes to lecture prepared and ready to teach is always a big help. When an instructor comes to class prepared, it communicates to the students that the teacher is engaged with the class and serious about their job, which creates an environment for students where learning is promoted.
“The best teachers are those who come prepared, encourage friendly debate, and show students how what they’re teaching relates to the real world,” Rittenhouse elaborated. “They get students excited about the differences they can make in their own lives and in the lives of others.”

Instructors who make an effort to get to know their students and encourage students to get to know each other also enrich the classroom experience. Engagement and participation of students together in discussions and group projects is an important aspect of being in a class, which exposes students to the point of view of other people.

Instructors who put a lot of effort into what they do also bring out the best of the students. Students want to work hard in a class where teachers take the initiative of working hard and set an example.

“When a teacher has invested time and energy above and beyond their course material in me I feel like I need to meet them halfway in the effort I put into coursework,” third semester History Major Jonathan Brandt remarked.
Giving students a chance during the class to ask questions about the topic being explained, leaving time at the end of the class for questions, and listening to problems that students might be facing are also qualities that are typically looked for in a teacher. When instructors try to be flexible and adjust their expectations to a student’s needs, then it works as a two way favor for the students because it encourages them to try even harder to excel in the class.

“Most instructors are pretty personable, but some need to work on how to get things across. For example, if I don’t understand something, I might need it explained in a different way instead of the same way again,” Webb commented. “It also bothers me when instructors make no effort to know their students. I’m paying to be here. I would appreciate them at least being able to acknowledge my presence by my name.”

One thing students don’t like is instructors pushing them too hard in getting to know their classmates. Some people have social anxiety and it’s hard for them to talk to other people unless the situation feels comfortable. At the start of the semester, amidst new people and faces, students may find it hard to relate to other people and a teacher pushing them to do so only makes things more difficult.

“I think it would be a good idea to get to know a few classmates, but only so far as it makes the class easier. Anything else is a luxury that people may not have time for,” Brandt said.

At the end of the day everyone has their own preferences and choices, but as far as instructors are concerned, them being Personable for students, Prepared to lecture, and Passionate about their field, are three P’s that will get any instructor into most student’s good books. After all, we have all had that one teacher who is so good that we are willing to schedule all our classes around the class they teach.