Kathleen Moyer | June 26, 2014
Throughout your time in college, you will meet many professors, each with a unique personality. They will also have different teaching methods and you’ll find that some are more effective than others, depending on your learning style. In my first three years of college, I’ve noticed that there are a few teaching styles that are common among college professors. After your first year of college, you’ll probably recognize which “types” of professors are most effective for you. Here are some of the types I’ve encountered so far:
1. Group activity enthusiasts
When you have one of these professors, you’ll hear him or her say something like, “Okay, now separate into groups of three to four,” at some point during almost every class. Most of them believe that students today have difficulty paying attention during lectures, and can benefit more from hands-on group activities. These professors can be a hit or miss, depending on your learning style. If you do indeed have difficulty learning from lectures and enjoy working in groups, you’ll probably find these professors effective. If you’re like me, and hate group work, you’ll cringe when you hear that dreaded phrase each class and you’ll wish that you were listening to a lecture.
The storytellers will relate every concept that you learn in class to some story from their lives. By the end of their classes you’ll know their pets’ names, what kind of car they drive, what they did each weekend during the class, their blood type, their favorite drink at Starbucks, the name of their senior prom date, their preferred brand of ice cream, etc. Basically, you’d be able to create a background report on them that would put the FBI to shame. But like the group activity enthusiasts, they can be both effective an ineffective. Sometimes their stories can grab your attention and simplify a complex concept by relating it to everyday experiences. On the other hand, some storytellers get caught up in their stories, get off track, and end up going on pointless rants. Again, it’s a hit or miss with these professors.
This is perhaps the best type of professor, in my opinion. They are bursting with passion and enthusiasm, love learning, and eat, sleep, and breathe the subject that they teach. Last semester, I took a course that most students consider boring, but the professor who taught it was so overwhelmingly enthusiastic about it, that he easily drew in my attention during each class. He would practically jump all over the room while explaining the importance of the course material and constantly read news articles on innovations in the field, which he then shared with the class. There’s really nothing negative that can be said about these professors. They love what they do, they want to spark your interest, and they want you to do well.
4. PowerPoint readers
I don’t think this type requires much of an explanation. You had them in elementary school, you had them in high school, and yes, you’ll have them in college too. They’ll come to every class prepared with the Holy Grail of teaching – the PowerPoint presentation. Then they’ll spend the next 50 minutes or more reading directly from the slides. These professors are totally ineffective and sometimes even seem like they don’t care. You can read a PowerPoint presentation by yourself. Therefore, you gain nothing from their “instruction”.
5. Old-school professors
Most of these professors have been teaching for a while and prefer more traditional teaching methods over group activities, open discussions, and visual technology. Most of their classes consist of straight lectures with occasional notes written on the board and regular quizzes/exams. I know that many students dread having these professors because they find them boring or too old-fashioned, but I personally like these professors. They generally know what they’re talking about, get straight to the point, and explain the course material clearly. If you pay attention all the time, you should do well in the course. However, I can see why some students would find these professors ineffective. With these professors, their effectiveness seems to mainly depend on your attention span…or sometimes how much coffee you’ve had.
6. Stand-up comedians
Everyone knows these professors – the ones who make jokes throughout every class. They’ll make fun of the material, their students, themselves, and anything else that comes up during the class. They’re usually popular among students because they always make class entertaining and keep everyone’s interest. The stand-up comedians I’ve had so far have been effective, because they have in fact, kept my attention by making their classes fun, while still covering all of the material. This is also one of the best types, in my opinion – as long as these professors stay focused while making jokes.
Do you know who La Salle’s basketball team’s point guard was in 1962? Well these professors do. When you’re in one of their classes, you will not only learn the course material, but also everything you wanted to know about La Salle and more. And don’t be surprised if you occasionally see them sporting their fraternity/sorority letters. The fact that they are huge supporters of La Salle doesn’t really affect their teaching abilities, so gaining random La Salle trivia knowledge is just an unrelated advantage to having these professors. Also…prepare for the extra credit you’ll receive when you attend La Salle’s games.
I’m sure that you’ll encounter some of these types of professors during your time at La Salle, and naturally, you’ll like some better than others. Unfortunately, you don’t always have a choice when it comes to professors, so you may have to take a professor whose teaching style isn’t the most effective for you. Because of this, you have to find a way to make the best of every style, and if a certain style is completely ineffective for you, you can take advantage of the academic and learning support services offered at La Salle. If you’ve come across any other types of professors that I haven’t mentioned, you can share them below, and if you’re entering your first year of college, let me know which ones you’d like to meet!