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Face-to-Face Education: What Students Are Saying (Part 1)

AOKeefe

We asked students around grounds to share their experience with the benefits of face-to-face education in an age of online learning.  During the next few weeks, we will share a number of personal narratives provided by students.

This week, Ashley O’Keefe (Biology Major) shares her story:

“I went into office hours feeling dejected and walked out knowing that I had the ability to succeed.”

In an age of online learning, what are the benefits of interacting in-person with your professor and your peers inside and outside of class?

I think that the benefits of in-person interactions are endless! In-person discussion enhances learning in a way I find little else does. I find that when I am talking to someone, or I am listening to someone talk, I am more likely to have questions, and more likely to engage in a deeper fashion. Dialogue has a way of sparking new thoughts and ideas that I might not have arrived at on my own. In-person interactions are also more engaging, and they feel more important.

Can you give us an example of a face-to-face interaction in an instructional setting that made a difference for your learning?

One face-to-face interaction that really stood out to me was my conversation with my Organic Chemistry professor. I was not doing well in the class, and I began to doubt my intelligence. I knew that to do better, I would just need to work even harder and put in more time. But I needed to talk to someone about it. So I went into my professor’s office hours. Before these office hours, she was just a professor that I listened to for a few hours a week, but after this, the class seemed so much more personal to me. She took 50 minutes just talking to me about the class, about my worries, and she even shared an experience when she was feeling similarly.

This personal interaction made all the difference! I went in feeling dejected and stupid, and walked out knowing that I had the ability to succeed and that I could and would succeed. My professor didn’t tell me anything that I couldn’t tell myself, but it was the personal interaction, and the feeling that she actually cared about me and about how I was doing, that made all the difference in the end. The next test I did tremendously better than I had been doing previously.

What suggestions do you have for professors who want to leverage the benefits of a face-to-face environment?

My best advice for professors who want to increase the benefits of face-to-face interactions is to take time and be available. Obviously, small classes are the best way to go, because they foster these types of personal interactions on a daily basis. But sometimes smaller, discussion based classes are not possible. In these situations, it is so important for the professor to be accessible, and to actively promote questions and interaction with the class.

In one class I took, the professor asked questions to a large class on a daily basis. This caused the class to be more of a discussion, and more of a pooling of ideas rather than just a straight lecture. I really liked this because even if I was not participating myself, I was listening to someone else’s thought process as they reasoned through a question, and as the professor led me to my own conclusions through the thoughts of others.

Finally, being available for office hours and other appointments is essential.

Interested in more student interviews from this series?
Read the next post. –>

Click this link for more information on the TRC’s theme, “Face-to-Face Education in the Digital Age”.



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