Students and Staff: The Interpersonal Relations and Lack Thereof

Kaetlyn Dembkoski
   Staff Writer 

For many college is a new experience; one that new students are often less than prepared for. Along with an extreme increase in the amount of work, there is also stress, expectations, and much more to juggle upon arriving at the grounds.

To make matters more difficult for the average student, we are, for the most part, going on our own in these endeavors to succeed; we plan to take classes that we need to graduate and hope that the class, along with the professor, will not be overly strict or complicated with their respective courses. While the classes may be tough, having good relationships with professors can create better situations and make classes much more manageable.

The notion of  student/teacher relationships on college campuses can both benefit and hinder a student’s success in their classes. While some professors take the time to create student specific bonds with their students, other professors simply do not have the time nor the resources to reach out to each individual student.

For those professors that allow for a more personalized relationship, the reaped benefits are vast.

Personally, I have found myself in both circumstances. I have recognized the difference that having a more personalized relationship with a professor can have on the overall experience of the class. For one without the ageism barrier that can come with dynamics such as these, I have found that these relationships can alter the results of grades and make classes more enjoyable.

In my three years at UNC Greensboro, I have had an array of professors. While that is the case, I am able to look back and differentiate between those that took the time to get to know their students’ names and personalities and those who were simply filling a teaching schedule.

Despite this, though, I have an entirely different narrative since I reside in the Mary Foust residential college. Due to my location, I see my professors on a more equal level as they regard my fellow classmates and I as knowledgeable just as they are.

Because I am able to take classes specifically created for my residence hall, which offers small class sizes, thus allowing more one-on-one time with professors, I have the advantage that most incoming students do not: I am seen as almost an equal to professors.

Most of the classes I take in Foust are mixes between seminar and non-seminar classes. In both settings I am given the freedom to speak freely among my peers, as an active discussion member. Our professors lead the discussions, but ultimately we are meant to take the reins and lead the discussions as we see fit to match the subject.

Along with better classroom environments, the personal relationships that I have with my professors at Foust allow me to feel open to ask more questions and not feel embarrassed for asking something that may be more on the obvious side.

One such professor that reached out to me was Dr. Dodson. Despite being a usually stoic professor, he occasionally broke that to speak with us as individuals. If ever there was a time when we misunderstood one of the readings or assignments, he was often happy to re-explain until it was comprehended.

On the other hand, there obviously are professors who do not wish or are unable to reach out to their students.

In some instances, professors are physically unable to reach out to each and every student. In a classroom of one hundred and fifty to two hundred students, for instance, unless a student actively engages with the professor he or she may not build the individual relationship that they might need to pass the class.

That said, the professors of these classes usually teach non-seminar classes where the information is on a projector and the students must copy the notes. Coupled with this circumstance is the extreme formality created to separate and make a distinguished difference between the professor and their students.

There are also a group of professors that actively choose not to engage with their students. For the students, this circumstance hinders the student’s ability to feel as though they can speak with the professors on equal grounds.

Grades are then much harder to manage as students must rely on one another or themselves to succeed in the class. This also makes the material less effective and less likely to remain in the brain because the students might simply cram for a test and then forget the information later on.

While the more traditional dynamics separating student and professor allows the students to understand the hierarchy between those who learn and those who teach, students may feel as though they cannot approach their professors to ask rudimentary questions.

Should more relations be created on a more personalized level, the grades and self-esteem of these incoming students would be much higher, thus making the leap from high school to college that much easier.


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