What Every College Student Should Know: How to Find the Best Teachers and Learn the Most from Them

Overview

Students do months of research before choosing just the right college, but once they’re on campus, how many of them actually research the professors who are teaching their classes? To optimize your college education you need to find your school’s best teachers—but how?

What Every College Student Should Know is a guide to discovering the best teachers at your school and learning everything you can from them. Here, the unique writing combination of a professor and a student ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (26) from $1.99   
  • New (6) from $9.44   
  • Used (20) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

Students do months of research before choosing just the right college, but once they’re on campus, how many of them actually research the professors who are teaching their classes? To optimize your college education you need to find your school’s best teachers—but how?

What Every College Student Should Know is a guide to discovering the best teachers at your school and learning everything you can from them. Here, the unique writing combination of a professor and a student provides you with perspectives from both sides of the equation. You’ll learn:

What questions to ask in selecting an instructor How to evaluate professors based on the first class sessions What to look for in a syllabus and grading policies How to identify a professor’s teaching style and how to adapt to it Even the most outgoing students can expect only limited contact with their professors in the classroom, so the authors also provide tactics to take full advantage of meetings outside regular class time, such as:

Advice on how to review your exam or paper with your professor Ways to build a relationship with a teacher and get invaluable feedback on your work Tips on how to get the best recommendations from professors.

Ernie Lepore is the director of the Center for Cognitive Science at Rutgers University as well as a professor in the philosophy department. Sarah-Jane Leslie, a student in the Rutgers University Honors Program, is a National Merit Scholar and has been elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
This book is refreshing because it doesn't make huge claims or promise to reveal big secrets about "success." Co-written by a Rutgers professor and a student, it simply discusses key elements to the old-fashioned heart of a college education—teachers. The five chapters tackle how to find good teachers, get the most out of them, cultivate relationships with them and build lasting relationships with them. The book has no fancy graphics or glitzy design, but it is clearly organized and written. Nothing surprising, but the advice is sensible. It's a little book (just over 120 pages) that could make a nice addition to a library collection of readings for prospective college students. Category: Education & Guidance. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Rutgers Univ. Press, 127p., , Braintree
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813530666
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2002
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 1,004,171
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.45 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from What Every College Student Should Know: How to Find the Best Teachers and Learn the Most from Them by Ernie Lepore and Sarah-Jane Leslie

Copyright information: http://rutgerspress.rutgers.edu/press_copyright_and_disclaimer/default.html
Each semester students register for classes without knowing anything about the people who will be teaching them. Rising tuition, heavy course loads, and long semesters merit more informed choices, but university curricula, especially in the first two years, are full of requirements, and students often figure that it doesn't matter who's doing the teaching. "Take the class and complete the requirement!" But it matters who is teaching. It matters a lot.
Imagine yourself, uncertain about your career plans, taking a required course whose subject matter is completely foreign to you-not an uncommon situation. Your first encounter with the subject may be your last. Discarding a discipline just because an uninformed choice landed you with an uninspiring teacher may be a great loss-a loss an informed choice might have prevented. Even if a requirement is your only taste of a field, it shouldn't be a trial. Good teachers stimulate interest. Your intended major, or even your career plans, could easily change because you fall in love with a subject. (In fact, one of the authors had no idea what she wanted to major in when she entered college. A string of great professors led her to a major she would never have predicted.)
These opportunities are too often lost because of poor teach- ing. Of course, you might not be in the market for new subjects, but it's still worth your while to find good professors. Though you(and your parents) remain certain that your destiny lies in medicine or law or business, why should you undervalue your time? Why should so many hours be wasted and boring, or, even worse, painful and exhausting? By picking an inspiring teacher, you'll enjoy your courses as much as the student who takes only courses that appeal to him will.
The question is how to find the right teacher. This task isn't an easy one, but it can be done, and success is well rewarded. But before we get to strategies, let's briefly examine other factors that should figure into your class selection.
Subject Matter
Subject matter would seem to be the primary reason for choosing a course, but it can be overrated. Though it must be a consideration, it shouldn't be the final word on course selection.
When the teaching is poor, an appealing subject matter won't make much difference, but good teaching can inspire unexpected interest. Every year students discover and enjoy topics they knew nothing about before their classes began. Some students even enroll in courses exclusively on the basis of the teacher's good reputation. An excellent teacher is unlikely to teach a boring class; good teachers can breathe interest into just about any subject.
We're not telling you to major in Good Teachers (although individualized majors are fashionable these days); rather we want to emphasize their significance to you. In high school probably you didn't get to pick and choose who taught you. You chose subjects and were assigned teachers. But not in college. In most colleges, especially in introductory classes and required courses, you often have a choice among instructors.
Whenever possible, take advantage of this choice.
Scheduling Considerations
The purpose of finding quality teaching is to let you get the most out of the course. But great teachers aside, you're still going to have to attend class. A competent professor will give you a powerful incentive to attend, which is among the best reasons for finding one. But as you're choosing, don't dismiss scheduling considerations. If, for example, you know you're not the sort of person to get up for an eight a.m. class, registering for one is a pretty lousy idea. Of course, if it's a toss-up between a terrific professor early in the morning or a useless one later in the day, invest in a coffeemaker and haul yourself out of bed. But if the professors aren't so different, then why take a class you're sure to cut?
The importance of the class also needs to be considered. If you're trying out a new subject-one that is perhaps an untested candidate for your major-then it's worth doing everything you can do to land in the classroom of the best instructor. Wouldn't it be sad to dismiss a field you might have enjoyed just because you got a poor teacher early on? If that legendary prof teaches only at dawn or on Friday afternoon, make the sacrifice.
A Background Check
Okay. So you're pumped up, ready to find your good teacher. But how do you find out if a teacher's worth taking? You have several available options.
Asking Around
Suppose you're considering a particular class. Your first step should be to find out the instructor's name. Although you can go through an entire course without learning the professor's name-as happens at an alarming rate-we suggest that you don't even register without knowing it. Finding an instructor's name is usually easy, but sometimes a name is not immediately available when you register. Sometimes the instructor's name may not appear in the course catalogue or whatever other registration document is used at your college. If it isn't, the department that is offering the course will know who will be teaching it. Contact someone there and find out. (One of us only recently realized she could do this. It saves a lot of hassle.)
Once you've found out your instructor's name, gathering information about him or her is easier if you're a returning student, and still do-able if you're an entering freshman or a transfer student. Former students can vouch for a teacher's ability. Of course, you may not know any of these students straight off, but they won't be too hard to find. When balanced against the time-investment that a course requires, finding a friend-of-afriend is worth the effort. However, your information is only as good as its source. Students can often be unreliable judges. If their information seems questionable, move on.
Graduate students often prove invaluable. They are more knowledgeable than undergraduates about a professor's competence. They're also likely to be honest, especially if you promise confidentiality. The next best bet is another professor, or your advisor if you have one. Your advisor may only be able to give you limited help, though, unless she is from the relevant department. Most faculty and administrative staff at large institutions are unfamiliar with people outside their own fields.
Finding someone in the right discipline can help. Although professors have much to lose by denouncing a colleague's teaching skills, it's almost impossible for them to withhold judgment. There's no shortage of loose lips in universities! Listen carefully to what they say; their honest opinion lurks not far beneath the surface of their words, even as they're exclaiming that they cannotmake such assessments. (For one thing, ask yourself when they're more likely to protest that they can't make such a judgment call: if they think the teacher is great, or if they think he's awful. Which would you avoid saying?) These subtle assessments are great guides to choosing a professor. Collect as many opinions as you can.
An easy way for you to get a professor's opinion without putting her on the spot is to present her with a list of possible teachers. Could she recommend to you anyone on the list? Which would be the best section? This lets her subtly ignore poor colleagues without explicitly putting them down. If you aren't familiar with the professor you are asking, steer clear of questions that would require her to bad-mouth her colleagues. Students are a better source of negative information.
Student Evaluations of Teachers
Near the end of each term, teachers are usually evaluated by their students. Most teachers learn little from these evaluations, and it's unclear just who is supposed to profit from them and how.Commonwisdom is that they are essential for professional promotions (see theAfterword), but you'dhaveahardtime finding anyone who was denied promotion merely because she received poor teaching evaluations. (At least at large institutions; in this regard smaller institutions are way ahead of the pack.) The hope of most administrations is that these student evaluations will help your professors become better teachers, which is a very good aim. But the questions asked in these evaluations are usually vague and unspecific. In many institutions your evaluations either disappear or lie unexamined once a term ends.
Evaluations are not to be trusted unconditionally, but if you can get your hands on them, they can be a useful source of information. Consulting them might give you an idea of a teacher's abilities. In many institutions evaluations are available for student review, although few students take advantage of the opportunity. (The library is a good starting point if you don't know where to look for them, or you might try asking the de- partment directly if they can make past student evaluations available to you.) Take advantage of this resource and look over the impressions of fellow students of previous classes. Profit from your predecessors' misery!
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Table of contents for What Every College Student Should Know: How to Find the Best Teachers and Learn the Most from Them by Ernie Lepore and Sarah-Jane Leslie




Acknowledgments
Introduction: Why Students Need This Book
Before Classes Begin: Finding Good Teachers
In the Classroom: Getting the Most out of Good Teachers
Outside the Classroom: Cultivating Relationships with Good Teachers
After Class: Building on Relationships with Good Teachers
The Ins and Outs of Recommendations
Afterword: Why Bad Teaching Persists
A Guide to Academic Vocabulary
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2002

    The Essential College How-To Guide

    Those of us in college found out very quickly how difficult it can be to naviagte our ways through the academic labyrinth of educational red-tape. The time it takes us to regroup and find out the most effective way to get the most of our time at school is even more costly--for those who can even figure out the ropes in time. Fortunately, Dr. Lepore and Sarah-Jane Leslie have divulged all of this coveted information in their book, packaged in a fun and easy-to-read format. Having the dual perspectives of an esteemed University Professor and a successful college student makes this a rarity amongst College guide books, and adds perspective and credibility to the advice given. Included are tips on finding the best classes and the best instructors, and getting the best recommendations for future endeavors. A must-have for anyone starting college, and a great read for those who have already started.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)