Editorial: Should Professors Check In On How Well Students Understand Material

Posted on November 1, 2011 by


With  the fall semester is half over students have most likely adjusted to the teaching styles of their current professors and what said professors expect from them as students. Students are also learning what they do not like about their professors; whether it be petty complaints the homework load or more important things like a professors way of teaching not be effective for them. Things like this will come up every semester. With this, the question of what makes a good professor is always brought up as well.

In a recent article appearing in the Boston Globe the question of what makes a good teacher was raised. In this article, the writer wrote that a good teacher was one who “would not just teach for the test” but would teach students in a way would that made people remember the material after the test and the course were over. This was done by drilling students until they had a clear understanding of what was being taught.

In college, many teachers prepare a lecture and assign reading hoping students will understand the material by the time of the exam. This requires students to be self-starters, which is a good trait to learn in college for the job market, but if a student does not get a chance to see if they are getting a clear understanding of the knowledge before the test, they could be set up for failure.

Drilling students on facts seems tiring and unnecessary, especially at this point in one’s educational career, but some assessment of knowledge outside of tests would be useful. In some classes there are assignments that accompany tests to gauge how well students understand the material, but in other classes there are just a few tests that count towards someone’s entire grade. If a student does not learn until a test they have not fully understood the material and get a bad grade they have to play catch up for the rest of the semester.

It is not exactly the teacher’s fault if students are not learning as they would like them too. However, the old fashioned lecture and test only format does not always work for every student. And, no one will expect a professor to ask them every class if they understand the material, but they should on occasion assess students’ knowledge on what they are being taught and not just assume the student come into the class already knowing everything they should for the class, especially if what the professor wants students to know is something most students would have been taught already.

The frustration that someone feels when a teacher says a phrase like, “I do not have the time to teach you all this stuff, you need to already know it to understand what I will teach you,” can be endless. Students taking courses outside major cannot help that they do not know as much information on a subject as students in the major pertaining to that course and require some understanding from a teacher.

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