How to Succeed in Dr.
First, I wish to state that it is my
heartfelt desire that every student be successful in my classes. Why would
any professor want otherwise for his or her students? It much more
enjoyable and fulfilling as a professor to have bright, motivated students who
participate in class, do well on exams, and complete interesting, well-written
papers. So believe me, I want you to succeed and to find our class
To some, my class may appear difficult and demanding at
times. But I structure the course and my energy in such a way as to enable
anyone who is dedicated and hard working to learn a great deal and to receive a
desirable grade. To help you succeed, read my suggestions below and follow
- Attend Class: It is absolutely crucial
for students to attend class every day, or at least to miss as few classes
as possible. The vast majority of exam questions are drawn straight from the
classes. If you miss more than a couple of days each testing period, I can
guarantee that your grade will suffer. If you miss a class, by all
means get the notes from another student.
- Come to Class Prepared: In addition to merely
showing up for class, you will be in a much better position to understand and
learn from classes if you prepare for class by reading the assigned
material beforehand. At minimum, this should entail reading the
subject headings and key words and developing an understanding regarding the
basics of the subject matter. Ideally, you will read the assignment in
its entirety and take some notes to organize what you have learned.
Please see the links on our class website on "How to Read a Book."
- Participate in Class: In
addition to reading and reviewing the reading assignment, jot down some
notes or questions about issues that you are interested in or don't fully
understand. Pose these questions to your professor during class. Also, do
your best to participate in class discussions by responding to questions
posed by the professor or other students. If you disagree or don't
understand, raise your hand and ask for clarifications, etc. These
activities will not only improve your understanding of the material, they
will also improve your class participation grade.
- "Don't Lose Sight of the Forest for the Trees:" I am more concerned with concepts and "critical
thinking" than I am with isolated details, facts,
names, dates, and mere reading comprehension. I find big issues
(the forest) more interesting to learn about and discuss than names and
factoids (the trees). This does not mean that I will never ask
questions about statistics and other smaller details from our reading
assignments, but it does mean that I will ask more questions that
require you to understand concepts, to identify their strengths and weaknesses,
and to be able to compare and contrast them with other concepts.
- Prioritize your Study Time: Devote more of
your studying to those topics and issues that we spend the most time discussing
in class. We pay more attention to certain issues because I feel they are
more important to learn about than others. I then follow through on this
emphasis by writing more test questions about these issues. However, I will also
write test questions devoted to issues we spend less time discussing, and to
issues brought up in our readings that we may not specifically address in
class. But the issues I devote most of my energy to in class, should be the same ones you
spend the most time studying. This is another reason why it is
essential to attend class regularly.
- Read Exam Questions Carefully: I do not write "trick" questions that seem to be about one thing but
are really about another. Instead, I write very specific questions.
multiple choice questions, this means that there is one and only one correct
answer. For essay questions, this means that you need to address the
specifics of the question, rather than giving me some vague or fuzzy
response that may only have some tangential relevance to the issues raised.
To do well on
my exams, take your time -- read each question carefully and make sure you
are addressing the specifics. If you are uncertain about what a question is
asking, then speak to me during the exam and I will try to clear up any
- Student Responsibilities: Be willing to work
hard and be proactive regarding your performance. Please understand that
your final grade, as well as your grades on exams, papers, etc., are your
responsibility. To succeed in this course, you must work and, on occasion,
work hard. I am more than willing to help students develop a firm
understanding of course material and assignments. But before coming to me,
you must try to develop understandings on your own. Accept that you may have
to struggle occasionally to learn and to complete assignments. This is how
you take responsibility and become proactive regarding your progress and any
problems you might have. If, after giving the matter a real effort, you are
still having problems, then come and see me. I can assure you that we will
work together to solve any problems you might have.
- Don't Wait Until the Last Minute: If you are
having problems with exams or writing assignments, come and see me sooner
rather than later. Not only will there be more time to rectify
problems, but you will also demonstrate to me that you are being proactive
regarding your progress and that you wish to solve any problems you might
have (rather than have me solve them for you). Likewise, if you are
having difficulty attending class, if you are missing exams or not turning
in writing assignments, you will need to consider whether dropping the
course might be your best option and, if it is, you need to do the drop as
soon as possible. If you come to me during the last few days of the
course wanting me to drop you or to give you an incomplete, I will likely be
unable to help you as UTEP has specific policies on such matters.
Instead, stay in touch with me throughout the semester if you are having
difficulties, I may be able to give you some advice that may help your GPA
or save you
- Receiving a Desirable Grade: If you attend
class, do the readings, participate in class, work conscientiously and
proactively, and take
responsibility for your success, then there is every reason to expect that
you will succeed in my class. That is certainly my hope for every student
who walks through my classroom door.