On Jan. 26th, five faculty members discussed expectations they have of their students during Prof 1:1, a question and answer session with the professors of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College. Dr. Matthew Goodman, Dean of Academic Affairs, hosted Prof 1:1. He asked the panel to advise students, “How do I become a conscientious student?”
During this informative open forum, participating faculty highlighted mistakes that students can avoid. The talking panel consisted of Adjunct English Professor Christine Savicki, Associate Professor of Math Susan Cooper-Nguyen, Justice Suzanne Youngblood, Adjunct Professor of Communications Tammy Gingras-More, and Associate Professor of Biology Jodi Mason.
To open the session, Dr. Goodman asked professors to answer, “What do you expect from students in the classroom?” Panel members prefaced their responses by stating that each professor may have a different take on this and students should clarify expectations with their individual professors. Professor Savicki main expectation from students is a readiness to learn. “When we give homework we’re giving it so we can get the most out of our class time.
Professor Cooper-Nguyen highlighted the importance of being resourceful in college. She explained that she used to think good note-taking was key, but iTunes and YouTube have made note-taking less important. Cooper-Nguyen encourages students to continue “finding a way to play the game.”
Professor Youngblood advised students to “be interested in the subject.” She continued, “This is what you chose to take.” She shared a story of a student who went through her course without removing the book’s plastic wrap. “You pay so much for your text books. Why don’t you open them up and look at them?”
Professor Gingras-Moore brought up a point that many students overlook. When she asked the audience, “How many students enjoy lecturing?” only two students raised a hand. “If you have a really boring professor, work really hard to look interested and we get better!” She related to students who are taking a required course that is not their preference, sharing how students can get the most out of their class. “You’re going to take classes that you don’t want to take. Been there! We’ve all done that. Bring in a really good attitude and your classes will actually be better.”
Professor Mason encouraged students to ask and answer questions. “When I ask a question and I get nothing but blank stares from twenty students, there’s nothing else I can do but lecture.” She explained that just the simple act of following along in their textbooks and attempting to answer gives the professor something to work with. “If an instructor asks a question, answer it. They don’t care if [the answer is] wrong.”
Professors are highly educated professionals. The majority of HACC’s professors have seen and heard it all. The forum illuminated the fact that each professor has their preferences and unique standards for handling issues. One common message shared among the talking panel was students need to stay on top of their work and communicate. If a student is unsure about their professor’s expectations for the class, they should take a minute, stop by their office and simply ask. At the end of the day, professors just want to see their students succeed.