Stop spending time and money on professors who don’t know how to teach.
Nothing can be more frustrating than spending a lot of money on tuition credits, only to find out that you have selected a bad professor. Yeah, they may know a lot about the subject, but when it comes to teaching it, they just can’t get it past the tip of their tongue. Bad professors really can make a big impact on your grades and how much you learn.
Talk to Other Students
People who have recently taken classes from this instructor will be your greatest allies in avoiding the same misfortune. Before you request a class, talk to students who have already taken those classes. If they are classes for your major, students who have taken these classes may be in your class. Find out what they liked and disliked about their experience. Ask about the instructor’s teaching style. Find out if the material on the tests comes predominately from lectures, the textbook, worksheets or PowerPoint presentations. Once you have asked several people, you may discover that some people loved the instructor while others felt exactly opposite. This may be because of different learning styles, the effort they put into the class or other factors. Consider your learning style and choose the professor who you think will best help you learn.
Professor Rating Websites
If you can’t identify anyone who has had the instructor you are considering, you may want to do an internet search for that person on professor rating websites. Although these websites may not have many of the instructors from your school, you may find those who are very bad and very good. Since students share their feedback on the professor rating websites, usually only those who felt passionately one way or the other about them take the time to add their comments. In assessing the information, consider how many reviews refer to the professor, what they say about the instructor and the student, and how old the review is.
Talk to Potential Professors
You may want to make an appointment, or stop by their office, to meet the professor before you determine your schedule and see for yourself if this is a person who will be a good influence and instructor for your personality type. Spend just a few minutes to get to know the professor a little. Introduce yourself and learn about the professor. Ask questions you might have about the textbooks or the content you’ll be covering. Gauge how much the instructor cares about students. If they care about the students, you can guarantee that they will be more willing to work with you to succeed. If you stop in unannounced, keep in mind that it may not be a good time to visit and keep your visit short.
Try Out the Course
If you are unable to find out whether the teacher has good reviews or not, go ahead and sign up. Attend a couple of times to get a feel for what the semester will be like. Try to be open-minded about the person’s teaching style. You might find that they are the best teacher you’ve ever had. However, if you feel that the teacher is going to be a problem for you, drop the class. Make sure you do it before the drop date. If you wait too long, dropping the course will result in a withdrawal on your record. Remember that if you drop it, but you still need to take a similar course that semester, other classes may be full or other assignments and tests may have already been given so this is a risky approach.
Seek Out Other Sources
Talk to your school advisor and other professors. Look into the professor’s teaching background. Have they received any teaching awards? How long have they been teaching? Observe the person’s class later in the semester to see how many students attend. If there are a lot of open seats, this may be an indication that people have dropped the class or do not feel it worthwhile to attend.
When There Are No Other Options
In some cases, avoiding a bad teacher just isn’t an option. If they are the only one who teaches the class at your school, you may have to endure it. But, a closely-held secret in academia is that you may be able to take the same class at another local or online school and transfer those credits. You can find many great options for online and local colleges at www.NorthOrion.com if you are interested in going this route.
If you still can’t find any other option and the problem with a particular instructor is that you are have trouble understanding the teacher or the subject, then you can create a study group, work with your campus’ tutoring center, employ a personal tutor or sit through another teacher’s lectures on the same subject. Stay positive about the situation. Look for the good things in the experience. If the teacher or the situation is inappropriate, go through the appropriate channels to report the problem.
Avoiding a bad professor is the best way to go for the optimal learning experience. Even though it may take some effort to research which teacher to take, you might save yourself a lot of hassle in the future. Have an open-minded attitude about the instructors and talk to a variety of people because opinions may differ depending on the person’s learning style and experiences.