The front of the classroom hosts the professor: an individual who puts years into their work, who decides the grades and who distributes information. They’re highly-educated, and generally efficient at distributing their knowledge. Professors are worthy of students’ respect and attention. However, despite their work, professors are not infallible. What should students do when professors are wrong?
Correcting professors is difficult and intimidating. However, it is important to make sure that the lesson is correct. This helps students and professors alike. Correct information prevents the time-consuming act of re-teaching information to confused students.
“Most professors—at least the good ones—are there so that you can learn. Everything I do, I try to make sure students are learning better,” said Nick Toebben, professor of Statistics 2000 and Management Sciences and Information Technology 3000.
Toebben appreciates and accepts students who correct him. It facilitates class discussion. However, the manner of correction matters as much as the correction itself.
“Respectfully is always the appropriate way. Privately, perhaps, would be another way to go about it," said David Meyers, professor of Social Work 2154. "Anytime you put yourself in a situation where you’re going to try to suggest to somebody, call somebody out, or say that they’re wrong, if you’re going to do it in a very public way, then people tend to get defensive."
Students should attend office hours to correct professors or discuss topics. A study by The Journal of Political Science Education found that students who attend office hours and regularly engage in discussions with professors achieve more success in the classroom than those who don’t.
Remember that professors are human and make mistakes. Years of education do not exempt professors from slips of the tongue.
“Anybody who’s going to speak for seventy-five minutes or an hour and a half non-stop may say something stupid once in awhile, whoops,” Toebben said.
While it may be intimidating and difficult, correcting your professors makes the class better and may help a student’s grade in the long run. A little bit of bravery and courage can facilitate classroom learning and help all parties have a better college experience overall.