A Thursday with Provost Beth Ingram

ERIK JONASSON II | THE SPECTRUM
Provost Beth Ingram talking to students on Thursday.

On Thursday, Provost Beth Ingram held a public forum for students to bring concerns to her.

Students showed up from different majors and classes. Student organizations were represented as well.

Students were free to bring up any concerns. Here are some of the major concerns.

What is dead week anyway?

Students expressed concern over the week before finals week, known as dead week.

What is it anyways? Is it a week for studying? Is it a week where classes aren’t held. Between different colleges, there seems to be a varying definition.

“It should be fixed between the whole university,” an undeclared freshman said, noting that some classes had strict rules about making a final, where the only activity was eating a donut at eight in the morning.

Provost Ingram stressed the importance of a base definition, asking bluntly, “What do you think it means?”

This raised many points, including the importance of learning the material and not cramming.

A student from the College of Engineering brought up the struggles of learning material so close to the final.

“It is so hard to have a professor teach new material up until the Friday of dead week, and then have the final on Monday.” The subject of whether the students actually learn the material was then brought up.

Provost Ingram said looking into other institution’s policies would be important in defining dead week. She also stressed making sure students have time to learn the material.

“I think we need to change the culture … What do you guys think of when you think of the first day of class?” As she asked this we all responded with “syllabus.”

Changing the culture would possibly entail making the last class being a review day perhaps? Or maybe make the last week all study days? Maybe have a day off for studying? 

My take

Dead week should be for students to study and have access to their professors. Teaching into dead week and requiring us to “learn” things or more likely cram things isn’t what I pay for when I take classes. I pay to learn, not to cram.

Dead week has the potential to be an amazing learning aid to many students if structured properly.

Furthering education for professors

Beside the basic base line safety training, professors, as of now, are not required to further their teaching abilities.

“There are classes available though,” Provost Ingram stated that although it isn’t required the classes do have a good turn out.

The education not being required though brought a couple of students to the obvious question though.

“Why can’t NDSU require professors to be better teachers?” an undeclared freshman asked.

“We expect a certain level of competence,” Ingram said. “Faculty are evaluated, but it is up to the students to report things that are wrong.”

Provost Ingram urged students to be proactive and take the steps to bring it to the chair of the college and up the chain of command if needed.

One student brought up professors who come to do research and seem to make being a professor second. Provost Ingram reassured us that, “Some of the best researchers are also some of the best professors.”

One student brought up organizing students was important, reporting an end of the semester survey doesn’t seem to change much.

My take

NDSU is a student-focused, land grant, research university. Although it does seem in certain situations the student-focused and research sides are at odds with each other.

It is important to make sure students receive their rights. Students shouldn’t be left to choose between awful professor options.

I asked during the meeting whether it could be made public knowledge which professors chose to further their education and which ones have chosen not to. Provost Ingram said this was a good idea and she would make a mental note of it.

Perhaps make it known on campus connection? If a professor doesn’t care about teaching a class why should a student have to deal with that?

Requiring some sort of training on teaching should be a priority, and then making that known to the students is important.

Conclusion

This was a very helpful forum for all students. Any concern can be brought up. For the future I would urge NDSU to continue this.

For students, make your voice heard. This is your education, you deserve the best and you should expect the best.

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