Professor Proficiency

I remember taking my first exam at Providence in 2009, in which I received a solid C. “You’ll figure it out,” said my friends. “Half the battle is learning how the professor gives tests!” This proved true, and I have since provided the same encouragement to my fellow students on several occasions. But it made me wonder: is this practice of “figuring out the professor” a good thing?

No doubt, this is something everyone has experienced. Some professors are so unwaveringly consistent in how they give and grade assignments and tests that students develop the ability to foresee exactly what the professor wants them to know. Essentially, the students get good at knowing the professor. “Bingo. I’ve got three out of five of them figured out,” they say. “Now, if I could only figure out Dr. Belz.”

There is nothing wrong with understanding how a professor works. It is like having a cliff-notes guide to each professor, only without the cheating part. It helps the students get good grades, after all. The problem lies in the unfortunate tendency of students to only study the information they know the professor is looking for while neglecting the rest.

Taken to the extreme, colleges will produce straight A students with straight C intellects. This idea stands contrary to the holistic education that Providence seeks to provide for its students. Fortunately, our professors are careful to be thorough in their student assessments, but the temptation for students to skate around hard work is nevertheless present. Sometimes the best thing that could possibly happen to a student is to have a curveball thrown at them. We are too prepared for being underprepared.

Try not to forget that the spectrum has two sides. Professors are privy to much more of what students are thinking than they let on. More often than not, they can tell which students have read the assignment and done their work. They are, after all, the ones with the straight A intellects.