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What students want in their professors

An exploration of teaching effectiveness

Cha-am Jamal


All rights reserved

In an informal survey of students i asked each respondent to draw from his or her own experience and, without identifying the
professors, to describe the most important attribute of a good professor and the most important attribute of a bad professor.
here are the raw data sorted alphabetically.


1 ability to effectively impart information to student

2 ability to involve all class members in the discussion
3 ability to make it interesting for the class
4 always let you know exactly what you needed to know for the exam
5 always makes himself available
6 available for consultation outside of class
7 Available for questions outside of class
8 available to students
9 cares for student learning and understanding
10 challenged the students
11 clarifies material well; explains until understood
12 Class Discussion, both in groups and with "guiding" by the instructor
13 clear desire to share ideas with students
14 clear explanation of difficult concepts
15 Clear explanation of subject
16 clear instructions
17 clear on explaining the grading process
18 communicates with students
19 concern he has for helping his students even when they are no longer his students.
20 Constantly makes effort to communicate with students and get student input
21 Continued to emphesise the importance of the material by drawing relationships with real world situations throughtout the
22 courses are always taught in a seminar fashion. The instructors role was one of guidance. Yet, he was able to keep control of
the direction of conversation
23 detailed and accurate syllabus, and grade system
24 does not favor one student over another
25 does not use grades to push students
26 easily accessible outside the classroom
27 enthusiasm for Math was contagious and made me work all the harder
28 enthusiasm
29 enthusiasm about course content
30 Enthusiasm for a topic
31 enthusiasm for subject
32 enthusiasm for the subject matter
33 enthusiastic about the subject
34 establish repport with her students
35 excited about the topic
36 explains concepts with clear and diverse reasoning
37 fair; had reasonable expectations and graded accordingly
38 fair grading; tested learning and not test-taking
39 fair, honest, compassionate
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40 finds ways to make materiel interesting
41 Flexibility
42 Flexibility to read the students and adapt to how they feel
43 friendly
44 funny
45 gave individual help if needed
46 gives feedback on work done both inside and outside of class
47 goal is to teach the materiel, not make it as difficult as possible
48 good examples
49 good lecturer
50 good sense of humor
51 good speaker
52 got and kept students' interest
53 grades reflect the true quality of our work
54 had a clear sylabus and course outline and followed in intact throughout the semester
55 had students present material
56 having my ideas heard without derrogatory remarks from the teacher
57 He assumed you know something and did not talk down to you.
58 He gives out his home phone number and lets the students know that they are welcome to contact him whenever they want.
59 he involved the students in the actual structure of the course. we had a say in it
60 He knows each students name.
61 he liked the students and created an atmosphere that was safe and supportive for his students
62 He took time to get to know all his students
63 he was not condesceding (too many instructors are)
64 He was very accessible. he made it known that you could contact him anywere at about anytime if you had a problem with any
of the assignments.
65 he was very relaxed
66 his projects are pretty interesting
67 holds students accountable for their work or lack thereof
68 honest, caring, and compassionate
69 honesty about his knowledge or lack thereof and directs us to sources to answer our unanswered questions
70 I feel at ease in class; it is a very safe environment for learning and sharing
71 Informal teaching style
72 interesting
73 interesting individual and subject
74 Is adaptable and explains concepts with examples
75 kept class involved by asking questions
76 knew his subject well
77 knew the material and knew how to teach it
78 knew the subject matter very well; excellent at getting the concepts across
79 knew the subject well enough, & had taught the course enough so I knew in advance where the trouble spots would be. When
these trouble spots arose he spent additional time on that subject to give students extra time to absorb the material.
80 knowledge of subject
81 knowledgeable ("obviously knowledgeable")
82 Knows subject matter well
83 knows the subject and can put it in terms that the student can understand
84 Lectures are clear and concise
85 lectures are engaging
86 Listened carefully when being asked a question (did not interrupt or assume she new the question before the student was
87 made himself very available to student questions and comments
88 made it easy to ask questions; got to know each student
89 made sure everyone understood the material
90 made things very clear; stuck pretty close to the syllabus
91 makes class fun and comfortable
92 makes the class interesting
93 motivated to learn and pay attention
94 offered additional sources for additional research outside the class for students particularly interested in a subject.
95 offered his spare time to help
96 on our paper, he writes a letter addressed to the student which thoroughly discusses areas for improvement
97 Open to more than one "truth." and to student's alternate interpretation of the facts
98 organized
99 patience; he was very patient and and explained things well
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100 personable
101 personable and approachable; friendly and open to students
102 prepared
103 Presents subject matter clearly and effectively
104 rapport with students
105 respect for student
106 responsive to indiviudual students
107 returned exams in the very next class meeting
108 sense of humor
109 sharing her professional experiences with us
110 showed enthusiasm
111 showed how things apply to real world
112 shows how material is relevant to our lives; real world examples
113 shows interest in student questions and input
114 someone I trust
115 stressed critical thinking
116 Students had a firm grasp of what was expected of them and when assignment were due
117 Students know what is expected of them.
118 take a personal interest in the students as people, not just social security numbers
119 Takes time in class to help students who are having problems
120 talked about/focused on current issues related to the class
121 teachers are well-prepared because they want to discover and discuss and teach
122 tell us why she teaching us something
123 Testing is comensurate with coverage
124 Tests are comprised of info gone over in class
125 the instructor liked teaching; he included the class; made us feel like we mattered
126 The instructor puts much thought into the comments we get back.
127 the instructor was excited about the subject matter; he made it very interesting
128 The teacher communicated patiently and clearly about homework, tests, subject matter.
129 The teacher was consistent--if he told the class what a test was about that is what the test was about.
130 The teacher was supportive
131 told what we will be learning and why it is important to learn
132 understanding; understands what students are going through; that students don't live only to attend class
133 used real life examples to explain material; students could relate
134 used up to date text
135 Uses subject matter relavent to the real world (outside academia)
136 very informative
137 very interesting
138 very knowledgable
139 very organized and methodical classes
140 very professional with the subject matter
141 very tough grader .. made me try a little harder
142 very understanding
143 Was obviously enthusiastic about the subject she was teaching, and her enthusiasm was infectious. It definitely added a
dimension of fun to the class and made the lecture time seem to pass more quickly.
144 was prepared for each lecture
145 Was thoroughly aware of the details of all class assignments (had done/tried them herself and knew of any possible
problems or unclear instructions).
146 well organized; preparation, policies, standarization
147 well prepared
148 well prepared for class; topics discussed thoroughly; discussion clear and understood
149 went over homework before we turned it in
150 willing to help during office hours
151 willing to help students; very helpful
152 willing to keep going over the material until everyone understood


153 Constant drifting from lecture material

154 instructors that do their job by presenting information and testing it. Nothing extraordinary
155 Lack of respect for students; this includes sexist behavior
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156 Slow at returning exams and papers
157 assignment not related to course
158 assignments were unclear
159 assumes we have memorized the book word for word
160 attendance was required
161 boring
162 boring
163 boring; lack of enthusiasm for the subject
164 boring and unconcerned about students
165 boring monotone delivery
166 bull headed and hard nosed; will not correct error he made recording a grade
167 Cares too much about petty details instead of solid concept knowledge
168 changes mind; inconsistent
169 class was very boring
170 condescending; [he was extremely condescending]
171 condescending
172 contradicted textbook
173 could not relate to the students; would not respond to criticism from the entire class
174 cut people off when they were not finished talking
175 defensive
176 did not bring info down to our level
177 did not clealy explain material
178 did not describe points very well; not positive
179 did not go over or do problems in class; but that's what was on the test; unclear learning objective
180 did not know the material
181 Did'nt particularly care if a student understood the material. Didn't spend time on relevant questions.
182 didn't teach
183 digression from topic at hand
184 directions were imprecise; we never knew what the hell he was talking about
185 discouraged student questions and comments
186 disinterest in teaching particular
187 disorganized
188 does not bring students in to the discussion
189 does not care about the students
190 egotistical
191 failed to give positive feedback
192 get defensive; does not answer questions
193 hard nosed; will not be flexible with syllabus when falling behind schedule
194 has prejudice against female students
195 he acted like you were an idiot
196 he does not care about the students
197 he just lectured..never asked us if we had questions
198 he just read the book; taught straight out of the book
199 He stated exactly what was in the text without adding any insight to expand on what we read
200 he used grades to push the students
201 he was always "correct"
202 He was power/ego driven (his ego). The whole class was about proving how smart and powerful he was compared to the
students and he would do mean, petty things to the students to get his point across
203 He was unsupportive of students; created an atmosphere that was scary and unsafe--the most a student could hope for is to
survive the whole experience (academically). No learning takes place in this atmosphere.
204 how intimidated we felt with this professor
205 how scared we were to speak up in class
206 huge ego; God's gift to education
207 I saw a teacher cocerce a female student into kissing him in front of the class
208 I think it is important for teachers to be required to have a psychological analysis of them, because human relationship is a
skill some people have to learn
209 I think that every teacher needs to be evaluated each semester. The semester I took this bad instructor, I was not given the
opportunity to evaluate.
210 if you did not see the world as he saw it, then you would not do well in his class
211 ignores students' comments; reacts to questions defensively
212 Impatient
213 inability to convey information
214 Insists on ` busy' work and does not accpet student input
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215 instruction was not helpful
216 instructor had only 2 office hours a week while teaching three classes
217 instructor missed almost half of the classes during the semester
218 instructor not up-to-date on material.
219 instructor was constantly late
220 instructor was not interested in the class as it was not his choice to teach it. thus everyone suffered.
221 intimidated students who asked questions; yelled at the whole class
222 intimidating; not personable
223 lab exercises without apparent purpose; We were getting things done, but we did not know what
224 Lack of Control in class
225 lecture-only class
226 lectured on one subject and tested on another
227 lectures straight out of book
228 lectures were mumbled inaudibly; lectures were dry
229 lousy semester organization; tried to cram the last 1/3 of the class into the last week
230 makes excuses for mass failure other than looking at his own teaching inadequacies
231 Makes factual mistakes in class
232 mechanical
233 never specified exactly what he was looking for
234 never there for the students either in class and during his office hours; he wasn't there
235 no lecture material; had to learn it all on my own
236 no regard for whether students understand the material
237 not able to 'read' the class and match level of teaching to class background
238 not being open to constructive criticism
239 not clear; too intellectual for common class lecture; had to give a quiz 4 times to get good results; did not understand it was
a matter of teaching style
240 not prepared
241 not respective of students
242 not willing to explain a concept a second time
243 not willing to help; i requested help the week before final but he refused
244 obviously the instructor knew a lot but was not good at explaining anything
245 offered no comments on essay tests that were returned to me
246 office hours at awful times
247 often make me feel stupid when I ask questions
248 One way communication (no instructor/student interaction)
249 One who puts down students
250 patronizing
251 patronizing
252 pompous
253 poor class planning and scheduling
254 poor classroom management
255 presents material in boring way
256 racist
257 Rambles on and constantly brings up irrelevant info
258 rude and sexist
259 sexist
260 sexual to attractive members of the opposite sex
261 Stale lecturing style and outdated content
262 students were not challenged
263 talk about their private life for entire classes
264 talked politics; bad-mouthed America
265 talked under his breath; hard to hear and understand
266 talks too technically to understand
267 teacher communicated unclearly about homework, tests, subject matter
268 teachers who have shown up intoxicated for class
269 test questions from out in left field; failed to prepare us for the exam; class lax but tests hair-pullers
270 testing was on material least covered in class
271 tests not consistent with class content
272 the classroom is their personal perfomance space where they can strut
273 The instructor did not make clear at the beginning of the semester all of the requirements of the course
274 The particular instructor didn't enjoy or know the material well enough and therefore would waste time in class to avoid
275 the subject matter was neither relevant nor interesting to college seniors
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276 this instructor expected you to believe in his opinions. You were not able to tell him that he was wrong
277 this teacher and class should be gotten rid of
278 This teacher had long boring lectures which were not worth coming to
279 throws things, like pieces of chalk, at students during his lecture
280 too many "war stories" of what it was like when they were working
281 too much time spent joking around
282 too much time spent on unimportant details
283 treated us like junior high students; explained simple things for 1/2 hr
284 unapproachable
285 unclear and vague instructions
286 unfair on grading ; does not explain grading process
287 unorganized/scattered thought process/instruction
288 unwilling to help students
289 very crass with the we were wasting his time.
290 very difficult to approach; made you feel stupid for asking questions
291 Was bored and had taught the class so often that he was no longer interestedor interesting.
292 Was rude to students. She was obviously not interested in whether or not
each student was understanding what she was saying, only in that she was
covering the assigned material. (rude teachers should be fired)
293 Was too technical for the class level. He was so interested in letting
everyone know what an expert he was in a variety of areas, that he talked
way over everyone's head, frustrating most students.
294 weak on the material
295 will not curve the grades even though class average was below C or D; will not change teaching style

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