Teaching Styles That Turn Students On/off at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

By Gentry, Ruben | Journal of Intercultural Disciplines, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

Teaching Styles That Turn Students On/off at Historically Black Colleges and Universities


Gentry, Ruben, Journal of Intercultural Disciplines


College teaching should be an enjoyable and beneficial experience for both the students and the professor. But this is not always the case. In many instances professors may think well of their teaching, while the students view it quite differently - in fact they may detest it and feel "turned-off'. Many professors begin teaching without much knowledge of the principles of teaching and learning. They may, for example, focus only on cognitive skills, and not relate information to practical circumstances. Such a narrow focus does not prepare individuals for real-world situations. The presumption that subject-matter knowledge is sufficient for effective teaching is invalid. Content knowledge must be augmented with the growing knowledge about how people learn and the use of emerging educational technologies. Research shows that professors have tended to teach in a style that matches the way they themselves learn. This may or may not match the learning styles of the students. Many times an adjustment in the teaching style can help a student learn and achieve success. If students' learning styles are compatible with the teaching style of their instructor, they tend to retain more information, effectively apply it, and have a better attitude toward the subject. This manuscript includes a review of the teaching-learning process, current practices and styles employed by college professors, and how various teaching styles are viewed by students. A survey at an HBCU of students' perceptions of professors yielded two basic categories of teaching styles: one, that turned them on and the other that turned them off to learning. For examples, they are turned on by "Dr. Clear Explainer" who gives plain directions, displays excellent lecture skills, and allows for feedback; they are turned off by "Dr. Easily Get Off The Subject" who talks about everything in class but what the class is actually about. But in perspective, it appears that what students want, professors can provide and yet retain a high level of quality instruction. Thus, the results would be a dynamic teaching-learning experience.

College provides the highest level of preparation for professional careers. Therefore, it should afford the ultimate experience in teaching and learning. To make this experience a success, professors are the most essential force. They are responsible for making teaching come to life. Van Buskirk and London (2008) advocate for a style of teaching rich enough to compete for the center of students' attention - their depth, their creativity, and their stillness of mind. Such teaching is almost certain to yield effective results.

The purpose of this manuscript is to provide an overview of the teaching-learning process, present current practices and styles employed by college professors, and discuss the effectiveness of their teaching and its receptivity by students. Organizationally, the manuscript begins by explaining how professors actually come to the job. Then attention is given to the nature of the teaching-learning process in higher education, specific practices and styles of teaching used by college professors, and how teaching styles are viewed by students - those that turn them on and those that turn them off to learning. Finally, suggestions are offered for making teaching and learning come alive for professors and students.

How Professors Come to College Teaching

It takes a lot of study and work to become a college professor. Good grades are needed in high school for admission to an accredited college or university. Excellent performance is needed in undergraduate studies for acceptance into a prestigious graduate program. Ultimately, the terminal degree is the best preparation for becoming a college professor.

Individuals who become college professors often have worked in other positions. They may have been teachers or administrators in public schools, worked in the corporate world or private business, or served in some research capacity. …

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