Today (October 5th) is National Teachers Day, so in honor of this, I was planning on doing a blog post about student-teacher relationships and how it impacts learning, but after talking with my professor (you know who you are), I have a very different image. So, this blog will still examine the student-teacher relationship, but it will also give way to the recently discovered insight that I gained, by talking with my own professor.
For many students, especially in post-secondary education, they tend to only go and talk to a professor about grades. They will make an appointment typically, before, or after an exam or assignment is due and a good portion of the students won’t even make the effort to talk to their professor. This type of interaction or lack of interaction seems quite logical, because in primary school. The traditional relationship between students and teachers is established by authority. Teachers are worshiped and everything they say is golden. Moreover, seeing or interacting with a teacher outside the school is like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs (it’s just unnatural). Resulting in a lack of student-teacher communication, which impacts student learning.
One study that shines a light on this impact of learning through student-teacher relationship is explored by examining the core dimensions: control, trust and intimacy.
The idea of control, leads back to the position of authority that teachers hold, where students have no power in what they learn, or how they learn it, portraying the image of passive learning. But students don’t realize that they hold more power than they think, because if it wasn’t for students, there would be no need for teachers. By giving students control over their learning, you can empower them, and increase their motivation towards more active learning. This empowerment is established by giving the students the responsibility over their learning, rather than putting it in the hands of teachers.
By giving students this power, it creates a trust between the student and the teacher. The teacher is trusting the students to learn on their own, with passion and motivation. The students learn to trust the teacher more because the student feels like the teacher trust them, because they allowed the students to control their own learning. SO, with this established trust, it allows for more communication to flourish, thus creating a better student teacher relationship.
intimacy is defined as feelings of closeness and connection, so in regards to the student-teacher relationship. So, when there is shared control between the student and the teacher, both trust and intimacy (in term of closeness or a connection) will begin to bloom, thus increasing the students learning and motivation towards learning.
With this feedback, it seems that if teachers give students control over their learning, a better relationship and more communication will form, and with an open dialogue, students may be more willing to critic the teacher’s material and lectures. It sounds like an easy solution to a difficult problem, right? Wrong! even if students were given this control, there would still be a lot of students who will refuse to have an open dialogue with their teacher or professor, because some professors can be unapproachable, and portray the perspective of not caring for their students. One of the big issues with this solution, is that even if feedback were given, it probably wouldn’t change the way teachers or professors instruct.
With this idea of feedback, students would think that by giving feedback to their teachers of professors that it would result in a change in their teaching or the material, but with further research no feedback is used in this way. At the University of Lethbridge, the faculty has a handbook that contains a large amount of useful information. A handbook such as this is typically for faculty eyes only. But with investigation I found something probably unknown to many students. In article 12 under the heading of “Teaching Effectiveness”, I can across a very interesting detail about student assessment. It states ” Effectiveness as a teacher may be assessed by a variety of means, including evaluation by fellow Faculty Members and through student appraisals though no assessment will be based mainly on student appraisals”. In other words, student evaluations and appraisals aren’t taken into consideration when evaluating a teacher. This quote shocked me, because shouldn’t a professor be graded by the students they are teaching? After reading this, it appears to me that this detail about teacher assessments are a way to safeguard the teachers, departments and the university. Leading to the conclusion although the university takes our money; professors, departments and the University don’t trust us to make the right decision in our own education.
On this note, I lead into the insight I have received from talking with my own professor regarding this topic, and education in general.
It seems like there is no point in writing about trying to improve the student teacher dialogue or relationship because it would not make any difference. I say this because teachers are so fixed on the context of their lectures and assignments that they don’t focus on the delivery of the material or how we are understanding the material. Even if teachers and professors were given an opportunity to change how they teach, if even it means less work for them, they would refuse. to which I repeat, teachers are only focused on going through and lecturing on as much material as possible, putting quantity of information over the quality of learning. With this reflection, it seems like the direction of education is going nowhere, so why try to change the system of education, if it can’t or doesn’t want to be changed. Not only is the system of education and the teachers to blame, I think the students are partly to blame as well. As students, we complain about a lack of change, and a lack of learning and quality education, but when students are faced with an opportunity to change or do something different, we fear it. For example, at my university I have this class that features no lectures and no exams, instead the students teach by doing talks, and we write a weekly blog. when students registered in the class, see this new way of learning, students are lost and even some drop out. Based on this, it seems like students are happy and content to be in this bubble where they think they are getting an education, and a degree to hang on the wall. Me personally, I am not content living in a bubble, especially when I know different. To put this in perspective, because of technology, we have access to every piece of information in the world. Decades ago, teachers and professors were the only form of access to information, to which it is now replaced by Wikipedia, and google scholar. So, it seems to me that, not only does teaching count for nothing, but maybe teaching is no longer needed.
Here are some good examples of teachers: Mrs Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Elizabeth Halsey from Bad Teacher.
But in honour of National Teachers Day, here is the perfect example of having control, trust, and intimacy with a teacher can result in open dialogue and the ideal student-teacher relationship. The featured photo is of one of the most influential teachers I have ever had: Mrs. Kathy Glasgo. She taught me not only academia, but life lessons, which I still carry to this day.
Dobransky, N. and Frymier, A. (2004). Developing teacher‐student relationships through out of class communication. Communication Quarterly, 52(3), pp.211-223.
Godsey, M. (2017). When the Internet Delivers Its Own Content, What’s Left for the Teacher?. [online] The Atlantic. Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/03/the-deconstruction-of-the-k-12-teacher/388631/ [Accessed 6 Oct. 2017].
Jones, B. (2009). Motivating Students to Engage in Learning : The MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 21(2).
Martin, J. (2017). Academia: Can We Save Ourselves from Ourselves?. [online] Linkedin. Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/academia-can-we-save-ourselves-from-jesse-martin/ [Accessed 6 Oct. 2017].
Martin, J. (2017). Teaching and Education.