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Sunday, March 03, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Dear professors, use your passion to make us care

If professors want students to care about what they’re teaching, they need to cater to their audience

When I walk into a classroom at UB, I know what to expect.

If it’s a general education class in Knox 20, I know I can slack off and hide behind my computer screen. Half the class won’t show up, and the professor has a microphone on for no reason.

If it’s a smaller English class in Clemens Hall, attendance might be a little better, and I may not have the luxury of blending into the crowd.

The one thing these classes have in common? Boring, uninspired lectures with the blandest slides imaginable.

A typical, general education, classroom setting at UB goes as follows: the unshaven fellow with purple headphones is watching anime in the back of the lecture hall, the sorority girl is perusing sephora on her laptop, and the oblivious frat dude is drooling while he stares at the floor. Some look at these people and laugh at their lack of effort in these classes, but can you blame them?

It’s baffling how many UB professors’ lectures contain blank slides, plain Arial font, black text and one stock image of a textbook diagram per slide. As an educator, it’s a professor’s job to deliver engaging lectures so their students retain as much information as possible. 

It’s impossible for us to be enthusiastic about our education when we’re receiving lazy, unmotivated lectures. 

It’s worth mentioning that some instructors on campus don’t just teach. They might teach one or two classes on top of research responsibilities, an administrative job or an off-campus career. These instructors can read from a textbook for the duration of a lecture, put no effort into their lesson plan, and make some extra cash. There are also the professors who went to college with a different goal but settled on becoming a teacher after graduation. 

No matter the circumstance, these are not excuses for a lazy lesson plan. The amount of effort that a professor puts into their lesson plans is the same amount of effort they should expect from the students in their class.

If a professor has typos in assignment instructions, boring slides and lesson plans clearly taken from Chegg, why should we put any effort into their class?

While students are paying attention to what’s being taught in the classroom, they’re also analyzing their professor’s overall demeanor. We notice our professors’ posture, tone of voice and facial expressions. We factor these communication skills into how much we care about the class. If a professor fails to deliver an engaging lecture, they’ll lose our attention.

This isn’t anything new. When we were tasked with giving a presentation in high school, teachers would tell us to do more than “just read our slides.” If we wanted our audience to be engaged, they told us, we need to employ an interactive approach that demonstrates how much thought we put into our presentations.  

Now in college, we’re watching university professors do exactly what our high school teachers told us not to do. 

Teachers should personalize lesson plans and let their personalities shine during lectures. Maybe they use pop culture references to help us remember key definitions, or relate elements of college life to what’s being taught in class. 

Some professors may prefer to keep their lesson plans on the serious side to maintain student focus, which is also acceptable!  But these more serious lectures should be accompanied by engaging distribution of content and a powerful, enthusiastic voice. 

Even if teaching wasn’t their first choice, professors need to show more pride in what they do. When professors convey just how much they care about their fields of study, we tend to follow suit. 

Dylan Greco is the opinion editor and can be reached at dylan.greco@ubspectrum.com

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