What Students Wish Their Professors Knew

To My Professor Book Cover

To My Professor:  Student Voices for Great College Teaching:  What college students really say about their instructors, with advice from master educators and teacher trainers by the Michigan State University, School of Journalism covers a wide range of topics of concern to students and the professors who teach them. 

Each chapter and subsection of chapters starts with quotes from students about professors' behavior or actions that have either helped the student feel accepted and fostered learning or created a painful situation that alienated the student.  The student views were gathered a variety of ways.  "The authors solicited 'To my professor' statements during interviews, on file cards, and by email.  [They] mined Twitter, Facebook and other social media." (p. xiv)

The topics covered include setting expectations through syllabi and classroom groundrules, classroom engagement, inappropriate behavior, expectations of technical skills,  and then several chapters on student backgrounds including life stages, health, race, religion, national origin, gender, identity, and finances.

The chapters are short and easily read and follow a similar structure.  They start with the student quotes, provide some context on the topic, include guidance from experts, some strategies for success, a brief list of resources, and information on that section's author.   The authors interviewed and read material by experts on how faculty can successsfully navigate the areas under discussion.  Many of the experts are on the faculty and staff at Michigan State University, but the authors also provide information from researchers, faculty, and student support staff at colleges and universities around the country.   They provide a handful of citations at the end of each section to the resources discussed in the section.

The sections are short, just a few pages, so no topic is dealt with in depth, but the book provides a great introduction to the topics and with the references in each chapter and end of book bibliography interested faculty will find more sources to explore specfic topics or areas of concern more completely.  The examples are ideas that will typically improve the classroom experience for all students, as is the case with most inclusive teaching practices.

Kind of like a survey class, this book provides a great overview to a variety of topics and glimpses into how to modify behavior for better teaching and improved student engagement.  In addition to teaching faculty, I think it would be of interest to and value for anyone who works with students including librarians, academic advisors, and others in student support positions.  And the lessons learned extend beyond student-faculty relations and can improve intra-deparatment and committee member relations in a diverse and inclusive workplace anywhere on campus.

You can find To My Professor in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library.