Success in the classroom should not be judged by a letter grade
Economics Professor Hossein Eftekari feels very lucky to have been able to teach at UW–River Falls for the past 33 years. He feels that the university offers its students a great education at a low cost. One of the best parts of his job is interacting with students in class and one-on-one during office hours. The problem is, not enough students take advantage of his office hours and therefore struggle in class.
“I highly encourage my students to come and see me. Unfortunately, they don’t,” said Eftekari. “They don’t ask their questions in class. They need to come on a regular basis if they’re weak. But, unfortunately, they don’t come. I believe some of them are very shy. Another issue is that coming to a professor’s office is intimidating, or they have a fear of that. I usually tell them, please consider me your friend. I don’t see myself above my students and neither below them, but on equal grounds.”
Eftekari is not the only UWRF professor who notices the failure of students to seek help from their teachers. English Professor Kate Maude, who often teaches fall semester freshman English classes, says that students do not take advantage of campus resources or instructor’s office hours.
“I think a lot of times students feel like they are interrupting or disturbing their instructors when they come to their offices,” said Maude, “but that is why instructors have office hours is to meet with students.”
Remedial math coordinator and math professor Grettel Hecht found that one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of good grades for many of her students in Math 10 and Math 30 classes is a phobia of math.
“The students who are successful in those classes,” Hecht said, are the ones who are “attending class regularly and not letting (themselves) get far behind, because especially in math, concepts build on each other.”
Students seeking better grades should be cautious about focusing too much on the letter assigned to each course at the end of term, Eftekari said. He added that too much emphasis is put on making the grade and not on learning the material.
“In my experience, students are not taking higher education seriously,” he said. “It is a cultural problem and it is extremely difficult to resolve it. The main objective of higher education being learning, and how to learn by yourself is lost in the process.”
“As long as the students focus on getting a good grade, I don’t think they are going to get a quality education,” he said. “If you really learn a topic, deeply, a good grade will usually come with it.”
He also notes that a phobia of math, a lack of time management and not studying regularly are problems for students. They also don’t take advantage of campus resources or of professors in order to learn the material better and achieve good grades.
“My message to all students is to take your education seriously,” said Eftekari. “Do your best; you are here for education. That should be your priority.”