Do The Professors Choose The Students They Teach?

Anecdote 1:
A professor who is very highly praised by students told her research group that she “weeded” out some students by requiring them to read before coming to class and giving a quiz during the 2nd week of class (right before the class dropping deadline). And the result is that she is able to work with smaller group of students who are more likely to interact with her during class, giving her easier time during teaching.

Anecdote 2:
Due to a financial crisis in a department, a professor ended up having a lot more students in her class than past years. She asked the students whether they want to drop the class during every lecture until the deadline for dropping the class passed.

Now, I am quite understand the struggle of these professors, they want to keep the class small enough to manage. My first reaction was however more sympathetic toward the students. The students want to take a class, and my view is, whether or not they got a good grade, they will learn something beneficial from the class.

No doubt, reducing the class size on purpose will limit the students’ chances of taking classes that are interesting to them. Would the students know that they are being weeded out by tactics from the professors? No, they will likely to think the class is difficult and they are very stressed. However, from the 1st anecdote, if students don’t read before a class, how would the students learn properly? If a professor did not force them to read by giving them a quiz, they will likely fall behind in class. So does it mean that this tactic will ultimately make the students better in learning? Not necessarily. The students who decided to drop the class will likely not to develop the good habits of learning on their own. On the other hand, it is not the professors’ duty to “require” students to learn on their own, it is the students’ choice and responsibility to discover new ways of learning in college.

What about the professors? There is little dispute that smaller class size increases the effectiveness of a teacher in that there is more interaction between the teacher and students, and the teacher can cater the material better to students. When the needs of the students are met, this obviously mean the objective of the teacher is effectively achieved. In reality, with less money to go around, the class size will increase. In this case, the professors have to adjust to a bigger class, but as from the 2nd anecdote, professors may request students to drop their class, which is not the point of college education.

So with professors trying to reduce the size of the class, the only people who would lose are the students who may have potential but could not keep up.


About leneatiengo

Vegan, without onion, garlic, leek, coriander/cilantro, hing (asafoetida), scallion, green onion, chives
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