What makes a successful class, good students or good instructors?


Humna Sharif

Photo by Scott Wells/Prospectus News Natural Sciences Instructor Scott Siechen during his office hours on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Siechen specializes in the field of molecular biology.

Photo by Scott Wells/Prospectus News
Natural Sciences Instructor Scott Siechen during his office hours on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Siechen specializes in the field of molecular biology.

Staff Writer

A new semester at Parkland is off to a thriving start and classes seem to be full to the brim. There are quite a few factors that contribute toward whether a class is successful or not.

Students and instructors getting along and understanding what one expects of the other is a key component of accomplishing course objectives. These in turn lead to the class being deemed successful by the people involved.

Every student wishes for good instructors, and instructors undoubtedly hope to get good students. However, each instructor has their own interpretation of a good student.

“I’ve had lots of great students every place I’ve taught. I like students on every level who are clearly making an effort,” Math instructor, Kara Greer said. “The most enjoyable ones are those who try their best, have a good attitude even when the going gets tough, and have a good sense of humor. I work hard to try to help my students succeed. If they are working hard too, then that’s all I ask.”

Commitment and dedication to coursework are also important qualities in a student that rank high on an instructors list of what makes a good student. History instructor John Poling said that he prefers to have students that are organized in class, and always ready to give their best effort.

Most teachers’ interpretation of a good student is not someone who gets all A’s or a student who never makes any mistakes on a test. A student can still be a good student if they occasionally forget to turn in their homework, or miss a couple days of class in a semester. The right attitude, commitment to the course material, a willingness to work hard along with a knowledge of their own abilities and short comings are some of the most important things that can make any student a shining stat in their teachers’ eyes.

Ultimately, a good student and a successful class results from good teachers. Therefore, instructors at Parkland are much more concerned with improving their own teaching methods to better engage the students, rather than setting high standards and expecting students to adjust themselves to an instructors needs.

“I find my field inherently interesting. I try to reflect that in my classes,” Biology Instructor, Dr. Scott Seichen commented. “I try to communicate to my students how I find it interesting and why they should too. As long as a student is trying their best to learn the material, I love working with them to help that process as much as I can.”

It is a fact that learning works both ways. Teachers learn from their students all the time and instructors impart lessons that are not always related to just the course material.

“All of us influence the lives of those around us in ways we may not even know,” English instructor, Dr. Lori Williams provided. “By showing kindness, by listening, by encouraging others to see their true potential, we teach others what we think is important,”

Over the years methods of teaching and, consequently, learning have changed dramatically. Knowledge has been made readily and easily accessible and this ease of access provides different challenges to instructors.

For some the challenge is choosing the right tool or technique to use for teaching from the plethora of different tools available. Figuring out what method benefits students the most is the real task here.

For other instructors the problem is more complicated, attention spans of students in general have gotten shorter and shorter. Getting the students’ attention focused on course material, and helping them maintain that interest, is something that instructors spend a lot of time concentrating on.

“Students want their interest captured right away, if the subject matter doesn’t interest them, they don’t try very hard, some even stop trying altogether,” Poling added. “Life is full of things that are hard and don’t particularly interest us. You just have to power through and give your best effort. Sometimes, I think that’s the best lesson I can instill in some of my students.”

The fact that instructors must give their attention to many students at the same time while explaining the course material in a way that is both understandable and effective, is an attestation to how hard a teachers’ job is. The amount of effort that goes into planning and delivering each lecture can only be made by a person truly committed to their job. Parkland’s faculty does a great job of teaching, and good students are made in part due to the efforts of teachers who take a genuine interest in being good teachers.

Successful classes would never happen if teachers didn’t take the initiative first. Letting instructors know that their hard work and dedication is appreciated, is all the reward they need.