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Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Professor Can't Teach! What Should I Do?

Like it or not, you will have professors who can not teach or teach in a way that you learn best.  What are your options? 

If you attend the first day of class, you might find some hints on how well the professor teaches.  Be sure to look at the syllabus.  Is the syllabus clear?  Is it organized?  Do you like how you will be graded?  Is the final grade calculation clear?  Are homework assignments included?  Who is the Professor?  What are her/his credentials?  When you walk out of the first day of class, you should have a clear understanding of the course requirements and how to be successful in the class.  If you dislike something, you should consider withdrawing from the class and looking for an alternative Professor in the future. 

Unfortunately, you may find yourself in a position where withdrawing from the class is not an option (the Professor is the only one who teaches a course and/or your schedule will not allow you to take the class at a different time).  If this is the case, it will be up to YOU to learn the material independently.   This might require you to read the course text/material and additional material suggested by your readings.  I recommend that you take notes on your readings and identify difficult concepts/ideas.  Work on developing specific questions for your Professor to answer in class (you should continue to attend class!).  If this fails, you might be able to further clarify difficult ideas by seeking out reputable websites on the topic.  Sometimes a University/College will have tutoring labs.  Can you locate a tutor?  Other Professor's might be able to help you to understand difficult material -- just be sure to make an appointment.

Remember, Professors are not often trained on how to teach.  In higher education, it is your responsibility to make certain you are learning the material.  It will mean extra effort on your part, but it can be rewarding!