Expertise does not equate to teaching ability

By Linh Ngo

As college students, we are constantly surrounded by the brilliant minds of our peers, mentors, bosses and of course our professors.

The majority of the professors at the College are intellectuals at the top of their field. There are many accomplished professors who have been published numerous times, have ongoing research or own well-established businesses. However, brilliance does not necessarily correlate to teaching ability, and even the most knowledgeable professors can fall short when it comes to teaching their students well.

Some students struggle to keep up with fast-paced professors. (Instagram)

One of my peers is enrolled in a course in which the professor does not have previous teaching experience. It is also her first year in an American college environment. She has an impressive resume, but she does not communicate well with her students and many of them struggle to grasp the material.

Her lectures are dry and long with powerpoints more than a hundred slides long that she reads directly off of, according to her students. Although she has extensive experience in her field, she is unable to teach her students in a manner that is effective and purposeful.

One professor of mine often gets lost in the content of the subject. He has decades of professional experience and is also published. However, he is teaching a course that he is not well versed in and as a result, his students have a difficult time completing their challenging assignments.

Usually, teaching is a second career for most professors, or in some cases a “side job.” Adjunct professors are not required to have a teaching degree in order to teach a class. There are several professors who have a day job in their field and only teach one class at the College.

Teaching might not be every professor’s priority, and that is definitely apparent in some cases. When professors do not prioritize teaching their students, those students will become frustrated and their ability to engage and learn will wane.

In some cases, a professor might be so brilliant that they have trouble relating to students who are not grasping concepts as well as others. It may be hard for a professor to break down complex lessons to simple everyday examples.

Some professors quickly go through material without realizing that their students are not as well versed on the subject as they might have expected. They forget to slow down and pace themselves so all the students have time to absorb information, not just scribble down notes.

Some professors are excellent in their field and jump into teaching without taking time to study how to be an effective teacher. Teaching is not a skill everyone has, and it takes practice and experience to become a good teacher. It is important to also remember that not all people who perform well in their field can be good teachers.

Students share opinions around campus

“Do professors at the College lack teaching skills?”

Angelina Francese, a junior music education major. (Katherine Holt / Opinions Assistant)

“My professors have been more than willing to offer help after class — they’re dedicated.”

Monica Alvarado, a junior music education major. (Katherine Holt / Opinions Assistant)

“The classes here aren’t exceptionally large. That gives professors the ability to build connections.”