This blogpost and podcast is for our colleagues in higher educations, professors, the world over.

This is #7 in our series on teaching: Course Evaluations

SC 96  #7. Course Evals: Faculty-Student Interaction

How do our students perceive us?

Excerpts from the podcast via iTunes or StitcherSmartRadio




The instructor’s respect for students

  • This is one of those questions that can influence the whole evaluation.
  • This is something that the students perceive, rightly or wrongly.
  • How we respond to students questions is key to our respect for them.
  • Students often have a hard time speaking up to ask a question.
  • Many students have a fear of speaking up in class. For them it is a risk.
  • Student: “If I ask a question will I look dumb?”
  • Student: “If I ask a question I am admitting that I don’t get it”
  • How do we professors respond to student questions? Are we helpful or do we respond like the question is a bother?
  • How do you interact with students in class?
  • How do I respond to a student who I don’t know very well?
    • Slow down and find time to meet with the student. OR
    • The student may need a non nonsense brief answer.
  • Student: “I realize the paper was due on Tuesday, here it is.”
  • Legitimate questions that help their learning are always welcomed.

The instructor’s concern for student progress

  • This question implies that we are watching all along the way.
  • First year students will typically need more help as they begin their college careers.
  • Sometimes the best way we can be respectful and responsive to their needs is to let them crash and burn.
  • It is probably better for a student to crash and burn in their first semester rather than in their junior year.
  • Our college students are adults and allowing them to fail is important.
  • College is the great half way house between childhood and adulthood.
  • In the workforce, your boss is not going to say, “Hey, you missed that deadline, just wanted to make sure you were aware of that.”
  • I see a lot students who don’t have that work ethic or adult responsibility yet.

The instructor’s willingness to listen to student questions and opinions

  • If a professor is going to invite questions, then the answer to those questions is key.
  • We need to take the question seriously and not give the students the impression that “Oops that was the wrong question, I know where I want to go and you didn’t make it.”
  • I try very hard to make sure that every student who rose their hand has an opportunity to speak.
  • Allow enough time when you plan your lecture for questions to be asked.
  • Question asking is a great opportunity for students to get into a more interactive mode of learning.

The availability of extra help for this class (taking into account the size of the class)

  • We can be vigilant about our office hours and remind students during class that we are there.
  • When we are teaching up to 160 students a semester, we simply can’t manage that. We can refer them to resources on campus such as a writing center.
  • Part of college is understanding where to get help. We are not their personal tutor.
  • As their professor, I am trying to get out of the parent mode.
  • How can we predict that we are going to score low in this category?
    • Sometimes an individual student, who is very unhappy, will influence other students.
    • One solution is to place the student in a group leadership position.
    • Another solution is to invite the student to coffee and really connect with them to gain an understanding of where they are at and also to communicate where I am at.
  • Once the professor is defensive and is perceived that way, things go downhill pretty quickly.
  • The RED FLAG of the silent classroom!
    • We need to step back and get a sense of what is not going well.
    • You can take an informal survey to gain an understanding of what is going on with the students.
    • You can turn an activity over to the students in order to break up the dynamic.
  • Don’t try to correct things without knowledge.

We welcome your feedback so we may continue to honor our mission statement and help students, the world over.

Thank you!

Daniel & David

Right or control click here to download the MP3 of the Podcast.




SC 97  #7. Course Evals: Faculty-Student Interaction



In this series we are to talking about what is usually not discussed publicly, our course evaluations.

NEXT FRIDAY – – – – – SC 98 #8. Course Evals: Grading  /   How is our grading perceived?

SC 99 #9. Course Evals: Learning
Do our students believe they are learning?

SC 100#10. Course Evals: Student Engagement
Are our students engaging?


We will begin the new year with a series that we are very excited about…

Creating Positive Collegial Relationships