What makes a good professor?

Christin Martin / Castleton Spartan
Professor Paul Derby speaks to his Intro to Anthropology class about his experiences in Banaras, India. He also displays some of his findings from his visit. Paul Derby was named a favorite by students.

The survey Castleton students take at the end of each semester is supposed to rate their professors. They rank them on how well they present the material, how prompt they are at returning work and countless other categories.

But what characteristics do Castleton students actually look for in a good professor?  

Several interviews revealed students seem to really appreciate professors who they are able to have a human-to-human relationship with.

“I like professors who don’t treat you like they are your superior. I like when they are personable,” said junior Alexandra Johnstone.

Sean Collins, a senior in the business department, agrees. He likes when he is able to be friends with his professors. His favorite is John Hoagland.

“I was able to just joke around with him, which was awesome,” said Collins.  

Students say they also like to feel comfortable around their professors.

“I like when they act like human beings,” said Spencer Dandurand. “The less like a professor they are, the better.”

This close relationship is something several students mentioned. It is really important to environmental science student Olivia Janus.

“I love that I can talk to my advisor about anything,” she said.

Math professor Dale Kreisler agrees with the importance of student-faculty contact. He encourages one-on-one meetings and learns his student’s names very early in the semester.

In a small school, a good relationship with your professor is common, but Maddy DaCosta said she has found it hard to make those connections in the nursing department.

“It’s my fourth year here and nursing professors still don’t know my name and I’ve gone to their offices a million times,” she said. “Its frustrating!”  

According to many Castleton students, to be a good professor they must be understanding.

“They have to be firm on their word… firm, but flexible,” said Stanti Schonbachler. “I think it’s important that professors are understanding,”

“Understanding” was the word Sea Hurd used too.

“My favorite teacher was Dale Kreisler, the chair of math department. I liked that he was flexible and he understands when you have to turn something in late.”  

Hoagland, the business professor, said he tries to be as understanding as possible.

“I try to understand that my class is not the only class that students are taking,” said Hoagland. “I’m willing to make accommodations for students.”

Another desired quality is passion.

“I like when I can tell my professors enjoy teaching. Someone like Dave Blow,” said senior Emmy Hescock. “It’s clear enjoys teaching, which makes it fun for his students.”

After studying in the Southwest for a semester, sophomore Alexandra Brownell has a new appreciation for passion. Professor Paul Derby made an impact on Brownell.

“A professor who is passionate about what they are teaching is so important. If they’re excited about the subject, I’ll get excited about the subject.”

Students can also evaluate their professors on the website Ratemyprofessor.com, where students rank their teachers on a scale from 1-5. There are 172 Castleton professors with ratings. Some of the highest ranked professors include Chris Shwaner and Patricia Gordon. However, students weren’t quite as generous with their ratings for others.

And there are some students who simply aren’t too picky about their professors.

“I just want my professors to return my work quickly, upload their PowerPoints onto Moodle and answer their freakin’ emails,” said environmental science student Mason Brown.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Haiti is in Hartman’s heart
Next post Oscars have gotten away from artistry, sadly