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The Common Good


CTE_logo_web.jpgA teaching and learning newsletter

Produced by the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Student Committee on Teaching Excellence, with input from the students of SUNY Plattsburgh. Vol. 1, issue 2. Read other issues

Student Survey Question

What makes a good lecture/lecturer?

"A good lecturer is one who can comprehensively get across their teaching to students by using terms, jargon, at the level that students of their classes can fully understand, and engage in and add to discussions." - Nicholas Williams

"If a professor can keep my attention and keep me thinking of the material outside of class, then they're a good professor." -Jessica Balcom

"Engagement. The ability to capture ideas quickly and in an entertaining way. It isn't about humor per se, but it is about wit. No one will ever want to learn and be bored. We are not wired that way." - Andrew Mitchell

"A good lecturer is someone who is willing to listen when students talk and is understanding when they do not comprehend something. A good lecturer must also be enthusiastic about the subject they lecture on and must, obviously, be knowledgeable about it." - Candice Ruppert

Teaching Suggestion

...from the Student Committee on Teaching Excellence (SCTE)

  • Do mid-semester evaluations of how the class is going. This way, you can re-evaluate and make adjustments so that the class is better for everyone.

Students on Teaching

What gets rave reviews:

  • Enforcing rules for classroom behavior - letting some students have side conversations is really distracting.
  • Letting us know what we're going to be learning at the beginning of class.
  • Handing back work no later than two weeks after we hand it in.

What doesn't:

  • Most group work. Professors should ask themselves, Is this is the best way to go about teaching this idea?
  • A professor who just sits at a desk through class.
  • Examples that ramble and never get back to the point.

Students on Learning

If you want to be successful, do this:

  • Seek extra help as soon as you are having trouble in a class.
  • Take advantage of teachers' office hours because they are there to help you
  • Eat your breakfast and get enough sleep to be productive.

Don't do this:

  • Don't find the negatives in every aspect of the class or professor (SOMETHING has to be good).
  • Don't expect your teacher to build a relationship with you if you don't make an effort at all!
  • Don't assume someone else will do it for you. Get the most out of group work by pulling your own weight.

Teacher of the Month

November's Teacher of the Month is Olivia O'Donnell, Ph.D., lecturer in Political Science.

"I try to make them interact and become connected because they're going to need that in order to survive." - Olivia O'Donnell

In the first two months of tabling for nominees, the SCTE collected 67 faculty nominations (44 individual). Although they are a diverse group, there are characteristics that these faculty have in common: they are caring, passionate, and go to great lengths to help their students understand material. Olivia received a number of nominations that detailed such characteristics, which was why the SCTE chose her from the many worthy nominees.

Excerpts from nominating submissions:

  • "She is passionate about her students and her work and it shows inside and outside of class. I love that lady."
  • "She works harder than any professor to make sure her students understand."
  • "She is a great teacher, loves her students, gets people to participate, and genuinely cares."

It is obvious that Olivia gives a great deal of thought to how she interacts with the students. "We have to show care for them; there are a lot of things going on in our lives, their lives, and I'm concerned that they are too plugged into technology and not connected with each other. I try to make them interact and become connected because they're going to need that in order to survive."

Olivia also challenges her students on difficult issues to help them learn to think critically until "they have enough self-confidence to go out and conquer the world."

Olivia now has her own CTE Teacher of the Month coffee mug to use while she is grading finals.


Contact Information

For more information about the Center for Teaching Excellence, please contact:

Becky Kasper, Ph.D., Director
SUNY Plattsburgh
301 Feinberg Library, Plattsburgh, NY 12901
Phone: (518) 564-3043
Fax: (518) 564-5100