Survey on Student Learning

A student asked me today to answer some questions, by email, about effective student learning. My grammar isn’t clean in these responses, but I thought I’d share them:

  • What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy feeling a connection to the students, who are amazing people.  I enjoy becoming a part of their circle of friends and seeing them grow.  I enjoy knowing that students have acquired a skillset and become something new.

  • What is your greatest frustration?

My greatest frustration is trying to make things perfect in my own mind.  Sort of like a chef or a movie director who obsesses over their creation, I obsess over the content of my courses.  There are so many options, so many ways to deliver things.  No matter what I do, it can always be better.

  • What do you think makes students successful?

Students who simply do all of the basics that they are asked to do are successful. If I ask them to read, to take a quiz, do a homework assignment, be present in class, and if they do all those things, they can succeed both academically as well as professionally.

  • What advice would you give to a student trying to improve themselves as a student?

With respect to students that already have a 3.7+ GPA who have made it into our program, I don’t think that they have any strictly academic deficiencies that need to be addressed.  I have full confidence that students will read/watch videos, do their assignments, work in groups, and prepare for exams and do so at a very high level.  However, being a student is temporary.  What most students are working towards is becoming employed.  I think that the development a student needs to have as they progress is to:

-retain their ability to be comprehensive in getting work done
-learn to be genuinely interested in some areas and put their passion there
-become honest that some areas, while of interest to others, aren’t their passion
-come to see work in more of a social/human interaction context as opposed to being purely technical/task oriented

  • If you could only give one more lecture what would it be on?

I enjoy what I do each day. It is fun to teach about technical topics.  However, it is sort of like watching a movie: it is entertaining but it isn’t real, it is secondary to the real things.  I think that reality, that being the gospel of Jesus Christ, is really what life is all about.  Everything that happens in our personal lives and at work each day are truly just part of the plan of salvation, and you have to put that first in order to be successful in life.  In every environment that you are in, people who live that truth end up being leaders and making the world a better place for everyone else.

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