I want to put a disclaimer at the beginning of this blog post that: The class I am referring to has a male and a female professor, whose identities I don’t want to reveal. As I refer to them as the male and female professor that does not reflect how I view different genders. This blog post has nothing to do with gender differences; it’s about different teaching styles.
Courtney Ciardullo wrote a blog post about some of the effects of different teaching styles. Her blog post reminded me of my biology class first semester. The class had two professors and they alternated each unit. I never had two professors split one class before. After my experience in Biology, I believe that teaching style does affect the student’s performance.
During the first week of the class, the professors had a good cop, bad cop dynamic. The female professor was perceived by students as “the tough one.” She was constantly warning us of the hard work ahead. She said that most of us weren’t going to make it into the school of biology. Her lectures didn’t provide any notes on the chapters. We were expected to read the textbook on our own and come to class ready to analyze case studies. This was an awakening for me, because I never read the textbook for my high school classes. We had to read several chapters between each Monday, Wednesday and Friday class. There were rumors that she gave the harder tests, with extremely in depth questions covering the chapters. I assumed she did this to force students like me out of the major. In contrast, the male professor was more laid back. I personally preferred the male professor because: he talked less of the scary expectations, he provided in class notes, and shared practice exams before tests. If I had a question or a problem I felt more comfortable going to him. I spent less time reading the textbook during his unit because he provided notes on the chapters. I thought I would be more successful during his unit, and wished he taught all four units.
My view on the professors changed when I compared my test grades in each of their first units. I flunked the test that was taught by the male professor, and got a B on the female professor’s exam. How could this be possible? Her test covered five chapters and his covered four. I was always complaining about her unit’s course load and hours of time I spent note taking from the textbook. Most kids performed the opposite I did. It became apparent to me that the casualness of the male professor’s teaching style I preferred was less helpful to my progress. I thought I needed a professor to hold my hand and give me handouts every step of the way. I actually needed a professor to force me to do the work myself. The female professor’s intensity motivated me to take notes on my own, attend SI sessions, and form study groups outside of class. I was afraid of failing her test. I only reread the male professor’s notes and memorized the practice test questions because I thought his exam would come easier to me. The motivation and urgency I had was my driving force, and she created it during her unit.
Preferred teaching styles depend on the student. Some students had more success with the male professor, but I find it interesting that I was wrong with what I thought my preference was. I am thankful that biology taught me what studying techniques work for me, and that I shouldn’t write off a professor without giving them the benefit of the doubt. There is no way I would have been as successful in Biology reading the notes and I would have failed every test. Getting a B grade on her exam stopped me from doubting my worth as a student.