In high school, you had teachers for a longer period of time, and you were taught in smaller groups – therefore, you got to know your teachers fairly well. Life was easy then!
Read Your Syllabus – at the very least, your syllabus should outline the professor’s expectations. It should tell you how many tests you’ll have and what the format of the test will be. It also might throw out a few hints as to the type of thinking our professor expects. Think about how your professor lectures – Each professor has a different lecture style. Some profs will make a general statement first and then fill in the details - this is an inductive style of lecturing. Other profs will provide the details first and then finally get to the big picture statement – this is a deductive style of lecturing. Other profs will lecture in a storylike fashion. Or, there may be little lecture and more discussion or demonstration. Always pay attention to the type of info the professor stresses from the textbook. Talk with past students – you want to get as much info as you can about how the professor tests. For example, if past tests were multiple choice, try to find out if the questions on past tests focused on facts (who, what, where, when) or on higher levels of thinking, asking you to recognize examples or apply info to new situations. Talk with classmates in the know – If you don’t have much of a clue about what you’re supposed to be doing, chat with someone who seems to have a good handle on the class and its information. Ask them how they are studying and the types of strategies they are using to prepare for exams. Be honest and let them know you’re having a hard time so they don’t think you’re using them to get an easy way out. Listen for “in your face” comments – when your professor makes a profound statement like “Gee, that would make an interesting essay question!” WRITE IT DOWN and star it!! All too often professors make comments like these at the beginning or end of class when students are shuffling their materials around. Be smart and listen up during these times! Talk to a tutor – Tutors here at Campbell have taken the class you are taking. They have a great insight into what is expected from you. To get a tutor for any class, come by the Hight House can fill out a tutor request form.
Many students don’t figure out the task until after the first test is graded and given back. If you didn’t do so hot, don’t just throw it in your book-bag and get discouraged – take the time to go over the test and see what you did wrong. Take your graded assignment with you and have the professor go over it with you. Make notes about what he says. Even though a meeting with your professor can be intimidating, your professor’s ultimate goal is to help you be the best student you can, and if he sees that you are putting forth the effort to try harder, he will be more apt to help you. If you’re clueless about the material being presented in class, don’t wait until the first test to seek help. And if you’re intimidated, email the professor and tell him what you’re having a difficult time with.
How you approach each task will differ – especially for different professors. Think about the task in a very specific way to decide on the right strategies and approaches for studying.
Understanding Your Professor’s Expectations
UNDERSTANDING YOUR PROFESSOR’S EXPECTATIONS
GETTING INSIDE YOUR PROFESSOR’S HEAD <ul><li>If you can figure out how your professor’s think about their content areas, you’ll understand how they want you to think about that content </li></ul><ul><li>When you know how you’re supposed to think about the information, then you can also anticipate how your professor’s will test you </li></ul>
THE “TASKS” AT HAND <ul><li>Professors have you do stuff in their courses – we will call this “stuff” tasks </li></ul><ul><li>These tasks are things like knowing what kind of tests you’ll have and the level of thinking that’s required on those tests </li></ul><ul><li>Tasks can be in-class essays or out-of-class papers, multiple choice exercises, or critical reviews. </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding these tasks is crucial to being successful in the class. </li></ul>
WHY BOTHER FIGURING OUT THE TASKS? <ul><li>Part of being successful in college is figuring out what others expect of you – especially your professors! </li></ul><ul><li>So…if you can figure out the task, you’ll know what your professor wants you to think about the material. </li></ul><ul><li>You can also select the appropriate learning strategies. </li></ul><ul><li>And all of this leads to earning good grades on the exam, as well as a good grade for the course </li></ul>
FIGURING OUT THE TASKS <ul><li>Read your syllabus </li></ul><ul><li>Think about how your professor lectures </li></ul><ul><li>Talk with past students </li></ul><ul><li>Talk with classmates in the know </li></ul><ul><li>Listen for “in your face” comments </li></ul><ul><li>Talk to a tutor </li></ul>
IF YOU STILL JUST DON’T GET IT… <ul><li>Carefully look over tests as they are given back to you to understand your mistakes </li></ul><ul><li>Make an appointment to talk with the professor </li></ul><ul><li>If you’re lost from the first day of lecture, see your professor immediately! </li></ul>
TASKS PROFESSORS MAY ASK OF YOU <ul><li>Multiple choice tests that ask you to memorize info </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple choice tests that ask for higher-level thinking that include questions focusing on examples or the application of ideas </li></ul><ul><li>A paper that asks you to provide support for your stance </li></ul><ul><li>Identification questions that as you to define a term and provide examples </li></ul><ul><li>Problems that require you to show your work </li></ul><ul><li>A speech or presentation </li></ul>