Limit reading, teaching from textbooks

By Foster Nicholas | Staff Writer

Aside from several English classes, reading is not usually the material being studied, but instead just a way to relay information that may or may not be important for the class. However, in many classes, students are still assigned textbooks that must be read thoroughly to ultimately understand what is going on in the learning environment.

Assignments and hands-on activities are more beneficial than reading and taking notes to absorb material.

Students expect professors to be experts in their field of study, which ultimately means they should be experts on the classes they are teaching. Now, if a professor needs to integrate heavy reading into their course to improve a student’s understanding or even teach them material, something is wrong.

Experts should be able to summarize an entire book of learning through a lecture if they are really as experienced as they say. With all of the information already given to the students, it would be more beneficial to assign work that can check a student’s understanding of a topic, rather than pile on more information.

I would define an expert as a person who is not only knowledgeable in a topic, but can also effectively communicate their knowledge to others. A professor who assigns reading to teach important material is probably trying to pack too much information into one class.

While reading can be beneficial, textbooks are designed to be the sole source of information and to fully understand the material, the entire thing must be read. This can cause problems because teachers can either rely on the one book, which means they are just reiterating the reading that students have already done, or they try and let the book teach half of the class and then lecture on other material which just creates information overload. Research has also shown that reading too much or relying on large amounts of reading to gain information can negatively influence brain productivity.

Many courses are reliant on midterm and final exam grades to pass the class, so getting the right information is crucial. A professor should be able to effectively lecture on the important information that will be tested on without the need for excessive reading.

Baylor has an elite academic status, which means many of the professors have a lot of experience in their field of study. Many have written their own books that are then used as instruction in their classes.

This is one of my pet peeves, and I lose all respect for a professor who will assign their own books to students. I disagree with the professors who use their own books.

Simply put, someone who can’t sum up their own material in class should re-evaluate their teaching techniques. Unfortunately, this happens more times than I would like to remember and to those professors — do better.

Ultimately, the best way to help a student succeed in a class at a very good school is to help them check their understanding on topics that are discussed in class instead of having them learn material on their own. Professors should be cognitive of students’ time and try not to overload students with information or double up on topics. To really have an impact in learning students also need to hold their professors accountable and give feedback whenever necessary.