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, Andrews Inglis (undecided, leaning towards Cognitive Science with a minor in Religious Studies) shares her story:
Why Else Would Elite Universities Have Such a Draw if it Were Not for the Opportunity to Interact with World-Class Professors?
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?
A major part of one’s education is living and being in a community in which nearly everyone has something to share. Indeed, why else would elite universities have such a draw towards them if it were not for the opportunity to interact with world-class professors? The internet has made it easier for us to remain within ourselves and not take the effort to build relationships, from the ability to turn homework and essays in online to opting to write an email to a professor instead of going to see them in their office. However, it is exactly those interactions with professors that make college so special. Professors can be your teacher, your adviser, and not in the least your friend. I think that often students are intimidated to have a conversation with someone who knows so much about a specific topic, but once past the pleasantries of conversation the talks that you have with professors are sometimes the deepest and most thought provoking ones to be had. There is a certain type of satisfaction that comes from a conversation that causes you to think critically outside of the classroom and it is exactly that type of satisfaction that you get when you take the time to build a relationship with your professor.
Can you give us an example of a face-to-face interaction in an instructional setting that made a difference for your learning?
For me, the best part about face to face time with professors is not necessarily the time spent talking about the academic subject at hand but rather the idea of getting to know the professor. My Econ professor regularly held running office hours in which he would meet up with students and go running with them. We didn’t talk about economics at all while on our run but I did get to know him which seems special and neat to me given that teaches over 1,000 students each semester. In addition, I have regularly gone by my religious studies teacher to ask for advice on papers but our conversations have quickly turned into more than just discussing the paper. Through these talks he has shown me how much can be derived from looking at the Bible through a literary standpoint and how to move past what these stories are usually interpreted to mean. My conversations with him are one of the main reasons that I am interested in pursuing a minor in Religious Studies.
What suggestions do you have for professors who want to leverage the benefits of a face-to-face environment?
My suggestion for professors would be to really make an effort to get to know the student beyond just the questions they are asking about the course. I think it is fair to say that most students go to office hours in hopes of getting to know the professor more and only use the questions they have about the course as a kind of ice breaker. It would make it easier for the student if the professor were willing to move past the pleasantries themselves and onto more substantial topics. That is how lasting relationships are formed and in my experience lasting relationships are the most rewarding ones.
Click this link for more information on the TRC’s theme, “Face-to-Face Education in the Digital Age”.