Study Tip: Approaching Your Professors

By , September 28, 2010 9:07 am

(This study tip has been provided by Dr. Richard Delaware. He is a professor in the math department and has been with the University since 1984. His understanding of student-professor relationships can benefit you tremendously!)

Visit Your Instructor’s Office

Do it! And not just on days right before tests. Go to your instructor’s office for the first time no later than the second week of class. We can give you personal attention you can get in no other way, and heck, you’re paying for it. We enjoy talking to students, and the hours we post as “office hours” are exactly those times we are ready for you. If it happens that our posted office hours do not match your free times, talk to us! That’s why we all include the “and by appointment” option on our syllabi – so we can adapt to the many different schedules of our students, meaning you.

Come to discuss study and survival tips as well as advice for the subject matter. We know how to survive college mathematics courses (how do you think we got our degrees?), so ask! Getting to know your instructor can also pay off later. We might even become one of your long term informal UMKC mentors. Since we know you, when opportunities turn up, you could be recommended. We will more likely remember you if we see you one-on-one in our offices. This is part of career “networking”. Now, of course don’t show up expecting us to repeat the day’s lecture for you or to do your homework for you. If you can, come prepared to share your attempts on problems you have already tried. Then we can work and collaborate together. But, in any case come by!

 We want to give you individual help, tailored to your strengths and weaknesses, and knowing your mistakes helps us to do so. Even if your current grade is less than you’d like, talk to us to see where you actually stand in the long view of the whole semester. Never be embarrassed to discuss your performance. And never, never drop a mathematics class without first discussing your grade with us. Know that we have seen hundreds, sometimes thousands of students in this class before you, and so we are more likely than you to recognize talents and strengths in you that you don’t even know you possess. Whenever I am lucky enough to tell a student that he or she is doing really well, or has produced an insightful piece of work, and he or she is surprised by that, I know that I am tapping into my experience to reveal something to them that they don’t know about themselves. Grades never tell the whole story, so don’t make assumptions about how well you are doing, based on your previous classes, when you are sitting alone in the dark in your room after a bad day. Come in and ask us; you may be pleasantly surprised!

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