Tuesday, September 01, 2009

10 Worst Teaching Mistakes

Like most faculty members, we began our academic careers with zero prior instruction on college teaching and quickly made almost every possible blunder. We’ve also been peer reviewers and mentors to colleagues, and that experience on top of our own early stumbling has given us a good sense of the most common mistakes college teachers make. In this column and one to follow we present our top ten list, in roughly increasing order of badness. Doing some of the things on the list may occasionally be justified, so we’re not telling you to avoid all of them at all costs. We are suggesting that you avoid making a habit of any of them.

Top Ten Worst Teaching Mistakes.


At 9/01/2009 10:57 PM, Blogger Shawn said...


HAHAHA...my captcha? "hater." I kid you not.

At 9/02/2009 12:22 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

I think, the best economists don't allow their political beliefs to interfere with economics.

Also, I may add, I think, everyone will agree some sort of labor standards are needed. It's a question of magnitude. I doubt the current minimum wage is a high standard.

Moreover, regarding "Hoover's Pro-Labor Policy Caused Great Depression," it seemed to be a fiscal stimulus attempt by the Hoover Administration, i.e. weakening corporate balance sheets to strengthen household balance sheets, to stimulate demand.

At 9/02/2009 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not knowing the basics of your subject should be #1.

At 9/02/2009 6:22 AM, Anonymous geoih said...

Quote from PeakTrader: Also, I may add, I think, everyone will agree some sort of labor standards are needed."

This sounds rather political to me. If one person doesn't agree that some sort of labor standards are needed, doesn't that mean you're premise is wrong?

Quote from PeakTrader: "Moreover, regarding "Hoover's Pro-Labor Policy Caused Great Depression," it seemed to be a fiscal stimulus attempt by the Hoover Administration, ..."

And look how well that worked. Maybe we should try it again. Oops, too late.

At 9/02/2009 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait a second. This stuff is not taught in Education courses in college?

But then, if teaching how to teach is not taught, then what is taught at teaching schools for teachers?

PC flavors of the Left that will develop more loyal subjects to the socialist dogma.

I have 2 kids in that intellectual gulag called public schools. My wife asks why they never teach phonics, miss diagnoses of dyslexia, suggest almost all boys are disruptive, give kids math problems to solve without having drilled in adding,subtraction, multiplication and division, don't return graded homework and rely on parents to instruct in order to begin the homework since it was cursorily provided in a class lesson.

At 9/02/2009 8:35 AM, Anonymous OBloodyhell said...

> Wait a second. This stuff is not taught in Education courses in college?

LOL, these are college professors. WTF makes you think they are education majors?

Most college profs never take a course in Education.

Not sure that's a bad thing given the quality of learning coming out of our primary schools, either.

At 9/02/2009 9:26 AM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

From the article: "Mistake #6. Have students work in groups with no individual responsibility" .

American Liberalism run a-cuckoo.

At 9/02/2009 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! You actually think it's the job of universities to teach? Their job is to collect money. Tuition is the ransom they get holding a degree hostage. Research is how they get corporate and government money. Then they beg incessantly from alumni who liked their sports teams or thought the mascot was cute.

Teaching is sometimes 'taught' in grad school if the department cares enough to get their grad students off on the right foot. Through teaching evals teachers get feedback after the fact and might make corrections if they're not in denial and actually care.

Research is seldom, if ever 'taught'. It's one of the few professions in the world where they throw finished products in front of you and then say, 'Do stuff like this or we'll fire you.'.

Teaching is low on the list of university priorities. They give lip service to it except at the 'teaching' schools. Even there, researchers get the grants, promotions, and esteem. Good teachers lacking in research are scoffed at. Some universities are wise enough to recognize comparative advantage and have permanent instructors teaching basic courses. Others just throw students to the mercy of random TA ability.

At 9/02/2009 10:39 AM, Blogger QT said...


There are a couple of others:

11. Forgetting what it was like when you were learning. It is very easy to grow impatient with a student when he/she doesn't pick up a concept quickly. There are many different learning styles and an educator often has to use different methods to communicate concepts.

12. Playing favorites. This seems to be particularly difficult to resist when someone's learning style or personality is similar to your own. Differences between the extremes of extroversion and introversion can also create friction. The introvert may be perceived by the extrovert to be dull-witted, withholding, querilous, unfriendly, too detail oriented. By contrast, the extrovert may appear like a pushy blowhard.

At 9/02/2009 1:29 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

It seems some, e.g. geoih, believe workers are an expendable resource, and labor standards are an unnecessary burden on firms.

Also, geoih doesn't know if the Hoover fiscal stimulus actually worked. It's likely corporate retained earnings were built-up after the 1920s economic boom, and distributing some of those earnings to workers may have spurred demand to partially offset the contraction of the money supply.

At 9/02/2009 2:14 PM, Anonymous Couldn't Resist said...


You mean extroverts aren't pushy blowhards?

At 9/02/2009 3:06 PM, Blogger QT said...

nice one :)

At 9/02/2009 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To reply to getting rational Most real jobs at this level are teamwork jobs the days of pure individual contributors are over. So why should education not mimic the real world? What you do is then to ask the team members to rate each other with a system that discourages giving all a high rating.

At 9/02/2009 5:52 PM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

Yes Anon. 4.25 pm, a lot of real world work is team based. The problem is that grades and acedemic achievement is individual based. Further, the fact that individuals are not accountable to the prof. weakens the team and thus each team member. The real world and the class room should demand individual accountability or else chaos, waste, fraud and low standards ensue.


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