I am teaching college freshmen this semester. My RCC (“Joys of Capitalism”) syllabus details their responsibilities but fails to spell out my responsibilities, which go way beyond just teaching. I want my students to know they have rights in my class, and I want them to demand the same from all their professors.
I have been teaching at the collegiate level since 2003 at several institutions in four different countries. I have encountered a lot of students, and I have attended a lot of faculty meetings.
As a professor, a father, and someone deeply concerned about where higher education is going, I propose we amend the social contract between a professor and his/her students to include the following:
Students are not a burden for faculty to endure so they can write papers in journals that virtually no one ever reads. Students should be why we SERVE as professors. Students should demand that faculty focus more on learning and less on teaching. All departmental and committee meetings should begin with the thought, “How will this impact our students?”
Make Sure Management is Acting on Your Course Evaluations
Probably all of your professors were good at being students or researchers, but that does not universally translate to being a good teacher. In fact, there is likely no correlation whatsoever. Lousy teachers should get bounced, not shuffled off to another department to keep being mediocre or—worse—to try again for tenure.
Student Emails Get Answered
Most faculty teach less than 15 hours a week, 8 months a year. Students should demand that their emails get answered within one working day in most cases, and before the next class period in all cases. If a student needs our help to learn, then they should not have to wait for an email reply.
Classes Start and End on Time
Many faculty punish students for being late to class. I am okay with that. However, those same faculty should practice what they preach.
Current Syllabi Have Contemporary Content
Is there a worse way to start a class than to see a syllabus with “Week One” and no dates? How many times has this one been recycled? Are the books, readings, articles, and cases all older than the students? Course content should be dynamic with regularly updated information.
Faculty Have Basic Technical Proficiency
Demand that your professor know how to use all the technology available in the classroom. Really? Your professor still cannot figure out how to show a DVD or get sound out of his/her laptop? The overheads are still not in PowerPoint? You are still being tested on material that is one click away on your phones? The digital generation should demand better.