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Monday, December 29, 2008

The perfect professor

I've been thinking about an image I have in my head of the "perfect professor". This perfect professor inspires all her students, leading them to think critically and become lifelong learners. Her lectures are always so clear and interesting that students never fall asleep, read newspapers, surf the web or text their friends in class (except to comment on something class-related, of course). The perfect professor's students are never grade-grubbers because she has inspired them to want to learn for learning's sake. She manages to convey how much she cares about her students without giving them the impression that she is a pushover. The perfect professor never gets emails from students complaining that her grading is unfair because her students never get confused about deadlines and/or they understand the exact repercussions of missed assignments. Her classes are challenging, but not impossible, in that way that even the B and C students feel like they are learning a lot. She makes her field of study seem so fascinating that her students all want to change their majors. On ratemyprofessors.com, she gets 1s and 2s for Easiness, 4s and 5s for Helpfulness, Clarity and Rater Interest. In short, she is some amalgamation of all the teachers in Ken Bain's What the Best College Teachers Do, with some Randy Pausch thrown in for good measure.

Is it possible that such a creature exists? What do you envision as a 'perfect professor'?


  1. Wouldn't she get 4s and 5s on everything on ratemyprofessors? So, students wouldn't perceive the class as easy yet perceive her as helpful and clear? And what about the chili peppers? No chili peppers for the "perfect" teacher? :)

  2. The hard/easy thing is actually an interesting question - do students perceive classes to be easy if the teacher is really good? Or do they perceive a teacher to be a better teacher if the class seems easy? In my department, it seems to be considered a 'bad' thing for students to think your class is easy - it's considered much more impressive for students to think your class is really hard but you still get good evaluations because then you clearly aren't 'buying' student opinion by giving good grades (i.e., good evals and low average grades is considered more convincing evidence of good teaching than good evals and high average grades). And of course, if students think you're hot, that opens a whole different set of questions about what your ratings mean! :-)


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