Passion, Organization, and Care make the great Tufts Professor
Results from a survey of Tufts undergraduate students
By Linda Jarvin | Photo By Kevin Walsh
When Tufts undergraduate students came back from spring break, we conducted a brief on-line survey about their preferred learning styles, settings, and types of evaluation. We also asked them to list the characteristics of "a great professor," and received some informative and thoughtful answers.
The top three self-reported learning styles among our undergraduates are visual (e.g., prefers PowerPoint slides, graphs, films), auditory (e.g., prefers to listen to lectures and podcasts) and "hands-on" (e.g., prefers to learn by doing).
In terms of learning settings, almost half the respondents picked "small groups" as their preference, ahead of lectures, field projects, and labs (only 6%).
Students’ preferences for evaluations were more evenly spread. 40% preferring short answer tests, 31% papers, and 21% multiple-choice tests.
Although these results come from a small portion of self-selected students, they are worth keeping in mind since students cited professors’ ability to "use a variety of techniques for teaching and assessing" among the characteristics of a great teacher. The top three characteristics of the great teacher were enthusiasm and passion for the subject taught (cited by 60% of the respondents), clarity and organization (cited by 52%), and concern and care for students and their learning (28%). These are categorized responses to an open-ended question,a nd if one combines all the answers relating to the faculty members relationship to students ("concern and care", "approachability" and "availability"), that combined category was cited by over 72% of students. Clarity, organization, and availability are all characteristics that one can improve, and we at CELT are here to help. Check out what workshops we offer under the "Workshops" heading, consult our tip sheets under the "Resources" heading, or email us at email@example.com for an individual consultation.
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