For some reason students feel like they shouldn’t ask their profs questions. Why is that? Do you think that how to amortize bonds payable using the effective interest method of amortization is common knowledge? No, it’s not. It’s a difficult concept and so are many other theories, processes and formulae you will cover in all kinds of courses ranging from anthropology to zoology.
Most professors are happy to answer your questions for these three reasons:
- Asking questions demonstrates that you care. The fact that you are concerned enough to ask a question shows us that learning is a priority for you. We really like to help those students who are interested, passionate or just plain curious about a topic.
- We genuinely want to help our students succeed. We enjoy facilitating discussions and grading papers where students “get it”. Believe me, it’s no fun grading a failing paper.
- We like interacting with our students. Those of us who teach large classes don’t get to do this very often. When we respond to questions in a one-on-one setting it can be a great opportunity for us to find out what students are struggling with so that we can make changes to content delivery.
Before you approach your professor with an “I don’t understand” statement, be clear that we do have some expectations. We expect that you have done some preliminary work and have made some effort to familiarize yourself with the concept/topic/process. Use this list of questions as a checklist and only approach your professor after you can answer yes to all of them.
- Have you completed the reading?
- Have you attempted the review questions/demonstration problem?
- Did you pay attention/take notes/get notes to the lecture/discussion on the topic?
- Have you attempted to discuss the concept with other students in your class or study group?
- Have you actually thought about the concept?
Here’s a question for you. Does this help?