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Teaching Observation-Dr. Prescott

Today, several classmates in History 551 sat in on Dr. Cynthia Prescott’s section of History 104 to observe. The class was quite good and discussed the Progressives. Dr. Prescott effectively used technology, with a easily visible Power Point that aided students in note-taking. She was animated, moving around a lot, including walking up the aisles in the room. She broke up her lecture by having the students do a quick in-class writing exercise where they defined Progressive. At the end of the class, students were broken into small groups to answer questions on the book How the Other Half Lives, followed by a visit from a representative from the Student Success Center. Overall, the class was good, with a few students arriving late and using laptops. She only had to deal with a couple interruptions.

After class, we met with her to discuss her philosophy and learned how she changed the course over the last couple of years. We discussed current trends in education, including how students seem to not appreciate the “new history” subjects she brought in. Her goal with the course is to introduce the students to diversity related issues, and hopes to have the course count for a US cultural diversity requirement as part of the new Essential Studies program, which replaced General Education at UND.

One thing I have noticed in observing classes and working as a TA is that it seems that students show less respect for professors. I have noticed students using laptops for non-class related activities, texting, and chatting during class. While they are mainly hurting themselves, they seem to be acting quite childish, showing disrespect to students who actually want to learn, as well as the professor. While college students should be able to be treated as adults, such behavior makes me question this. We learn at a young age not to talk out of turn in class, and while college should be about the exchange of ideas, people should be respectful of the professor, who has given their time to share their knowledge. It will be interesting to see how students in other classes, especially at other institutions behave in class.

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