1) What are your general thoughts and feelings of the survey items? What were some items that you particularly liked or didn’t like (thought effective or not effective) and why?
In general, I enjoyed completing the survey. Emotional scaffolding and a professor’s support are subjects that I do not often think about. Answering the questions gave me the chance to think more deeply about my instructors and about the emotions I experienced.
As I was taking the survey, I realized that some questions were much easier to answer than others. For example, it was very easy to decide that the statement “my instructors know each student well” was false for me personally. In college lecture classes, there are maybe over two hundred students in a classroom. As a result, it is difficult for a professor to keep track of everyone and understand individual learning differences. I think the only times that a student and professor have to get to know each other is through office hours. Most of my peers choose not to go to office hours, and as a result, the professor does not get to know every student. This item on the survey led to simple and quick conclusion for me to draw because it was something that I had personally experienced.
One survey question that I particularly liked was as follows: “My instructors want to know more about students’ lives outside of the classroom”. I found this to be an important component because it is part of the process of building trust. As instructors learn about current events surrounding a student’s life, they can better understand the student’s emotions, possible impediments to learning, and other potential troubles that may occur. Asking about life outside the classroom shows that professors truly care about wanting their students to succeed and wanting to get to know students as individuals.
There are many effective strategies an instructor can use to create an open learning environment, such as the item “My instructors provide encouragement to all students in the class”. Encouragement allows students to feel more positively about themselves and about their goals. In other words, encouragement can serve as a reminder that there is always hope in bleak situations. Despite difficulties in learning, a professor’s words of encouragement will provide that student comfort and that student will feel less stressed. Students will also most likely not give up on achieving a goal, which maximizes the opportunity for learning.
2) After looking at the survey items that demonstrated instructors’ emotional scaffolding behaviors, how would you evaluate the amount of the emotional support that you have received in college classrooms so far? Have your college instructors provided you with sufficient emotionally-supported classroom learning experiences or not? If so/not, why?
Based on my answers to the survey questions, I believe that I have received a slight amount of emotional scaffolding support in my college classrooms so far. Every professor is different when it comes to supporting students. I have come across some professors who seem to care more about students and others who do not care as much. In other words, some professors have provided me with emotional support, while others have not.
For example, my accounting professor provided me with support when I was upset during the semester. As I took the first exam, I felt anxious because I was unsure of the answers to the multiple choice questions. After the exam, I was afraid to check my grade, and when I did, it was lower than I expected. At one point, I ended up crying because I was doubtful that accounting was the right major for me and I was scared that I would fail the class. I ended up going to the professor, who assured me that the first exam grade would not determine how well I would do in the remainder of the class. After she took the time to go over the exam with me one-on-one, I felt slightly better and the professor mentioned that I should not be afraid to come for extra help. I could tell that she truly wanted to help as much as she could and that she understood my fears.
On the other hand, I have also encountered professors who have not given me any true emotional support. For example, I reached out to the TA of my American history course once over my difficulty with an essay prompt. I hoped to share with her my outline, and I expected her to respond in a day or so. But she replied a week later. This was one day before the exam and caught my attention because I was suddenly under the impression she did not care as much about my concerns or my performance.
The main reason why I have received little emotional support is because I do not often go to office hours. I have only gone to office hours to review an exam or to share my concerns over not doing well in the class. These occasions helped me feel comfortable in difficult classes because of the direct support I received from professors. However, in classes that I did well in, I did not often come in for office hours and my professors did not know me well. Since they did not know me well, they did not provide as much emotional support.
3) List three items that you think represent instructor’s teaching behaviors that contribute to college students’ successful course learning the best and provide brief explanations why you chose each item.
I think the three items from the survey that most represent an instructor’s teaching behaviors that contribute to college students’ successful learning are as follows: “My instructors affirm students’ different abilities”, “My instructors show kindness to the students”, and “My instructors provide students with supportive feedback during and after class”.
In general, I believe that instructors should know and recognize that every student has different strengths, weaknesses, capabilities, and learning styles. Instructors should address these individual differences by implementing various teaching methods from lecturing to assigning projects. For example, some students may find taking notes to be beneficial, while others may learn best through group work. In this case, the professor might try to design projects specific to those individual strengths.
I think the second item is important because it speaks to the fact that instructors should show kindness and compassion to make sure that students feel welcome. A welcoming environment is important since it will allow for a stronger student-teacher relationship. If there are any concerns a student has, that student should not feel afraid to come to a professor for help. Essentially, students should not be scared to go see instructors during office hours. Once these concerns are addressed, students can focus more on learning.
I chose the last item specifically because I believe that feedback is crucial in the learning process. The purpose of learning is for students to work with the material in a meaningful way. Without feedback, there is no room for reflection or growth. Supportive feedback during class is important in this case since it can at least raise a student’s spirits and self-confidence so that he or she can concentrate more on learning and less on negative thoughts and emotions.
4). List three items that you think demonstrate the most effective instructor’s teaching behaviors that support college students’ creative expression activities in the classroom and creativity development and provide brief explanations why you chose each item.
I think the three items that most represent an instructor’s teaching behaviors that contribute to college students’ creativity development are as follows: “My instructors provide students with supportive feedback during and after class”, “My instructors help the students be able to work on class tasks in the way they want”, and “My instructors create a classroom where the students can trust each other.”
In general, the willingness to continue creative expression of activities such as writing, athletics, or the performance arts is closely linked with proper motivation and emotion. For example, if a student wants to be a journalist but an instructor declares that the student’s writing skills are mediocre, the student is likely to feel withdrawn, be less confident, and give up the dream of being a writer. In this case, negative remarks and comments can hurt feelings and self-esteem, resulting in creative mortification. As a result, in my future classroom, I would share all criticisms in the form of constructive feedback in order to continue fostering creative expression.
Additionally, instructors allowing students to work in any way they want allows for creative expression. In this case, there is a sense of freedom and students can choose what they like to do. For example, suppose in an art class that an art instructor assigns a project that allows the students to express themselves. Students can choose any art projects ranging from clay sculptures to watercolor paintings. If a student has a goal of becoming a sculpturist, then this student can choose to make a clay sculpture. If a student decides to experiments, he or she might even discover a passion or new enjoyment. Thus, this project will lead to creative development.
Finally, I chose the last item because a sense of trust between students is important for creative expression to develop. There are times when creative expression requires collaboration. Trust is the key because it will allow students to work closely with peers without uncertainty or doubt. When peers work and help each other, new perspectives may easily arise. This is because when there are new viewpoints, there are novel ways of thinking and students are more likely to learn from each other. This peer-to-peer learning is as critical to creative development as an understanding and trusting relationship between a teacher and a student is.
5) You may feel like some instructors’ emotional scaffolding behaviors that you think are essential for supporting students’ learning are missing in the survey. Create three new survey items that show instructors’ teaching behaviors that will contribute to college students’ positive emotional experience in classroom learning situations, enhancing their learning, and creativity development. For each item, provide reasons why (and how) you think each behavior will support students’ emotions, learning, and creativity.
Three new survey items that could be added are as follows: “Professors assign a mandatory graded survey that include questions about how students feel and how confident they are”, “Professors come to discussion or lab sections to get to know students better”, and “Professors use more student-centered learning strategies to help students maximize learning”.
I chose to add the first item because a mandatory graded survey at the end of each semester would allow professors to gain deeper insight into their students’ feelings. The survey should count toward the student’s overall grade so that he or she is incentivized to complete it in the first place. Originally, I considered adding an item that would have professors ask for mandatory one-on-one meetings with their students, but I realized that scheduling so many meetings would be inconvenient due to conflicting schedules. This method would also easily become time consuming, so I decided that it would be more reasonable to use a survey to receive quicker direct feedback. Through these surveys, professors would be able to better detect emotions and could help a student if trouble arose.
Since some classes have a discussion or lab as well as lecture, it may also be beneficial for a professor to come into the classroom during these smaller sessions instead of just leaving the instructing to a teaching assistant. This is referenced in the second item that I would add. A professor would then be able to see who is in the class, know the names of the students, and be able to recognize familiar faces during office hours. This would be the first step towards building a healthier and closer relationship with students. If a student is struggling with the work during the discussions, the professor could also help better one-on-one and students would also learn to feel more comfortable talking and working with the professor. Essentially, students probably would be more likely to reach out if they have worries or emotional impediments to learning. Professors, during discussion sessions, could also provide compliments and feedback, which could lead to achieving goals of better creative expression.
Finally, professors should incorporate various student-centered teaching strategies in addition to teacher-centered ones, as shown by the third item that I would add. In general, most professors lecture and give out exams to see how much students know. This is more of a teacher-centered class and may not be sufficient enough to foster and reinforce learning. I believe that students truly learn when they are able to think critically and relate concepts to the real world. Exams often require memorizing lecture materials and there is not much critical thinking in a student’s mind. It is also likely that after a student takes an exam, the student may forget the information right away. To help students learn better, hands-on activities and projects or discussions could be assigned for the students to engage with material more actively and apply concepts.