It is patently clear that not all lecturers are created equal. It is also clear that after you've been through a certain amount, specific 'types' start to emerge.
If there's one group of people that know their stuff when it comes to lecturers, it's the guys at Whatuni. Whatuni helps people decide their course and university - a hugely important part of this are the reviews from current students - you can review your course and uni here. Your advice and opinions can be invaluable for future students, plus £50 in Amazon vouchers will go to the three best December reviews.
Whatuni have kindly put together this handy guide for identifying lecturer types – so you can spot the warning signs of any problem lecturers early and deal with them as appropriate…
1. The Waffler
Description: Some lecturers are not content to stick to the syllabus, and feel the need to demonstrate their wider knowledge by droning on about things that are of little to no interest to the average student. The scientific term for this type of behaviour is “waffling”, and it can unfortunately be quite a common occurrence at university.
Habits include: Speaking at length on a variety of topics, none of which are relevant to the course; staring blankly out of the window while recounting pointless anecdotes, cheerfully unaware of the mist of boredom descending on the class.
Best approach: This is a tricky one – the thing is, not all waffle is necessarily a bad thing. A bit of wider context is often useful if it can be related back to the subject at hand, so you’re best bet might be to raise a hand and ask politely, “will I be expected to refer to this in my essay/exam?” If the answer is yes, then it’s all good. If not, the question might be enough to jolt the lecturer back on track.
2. Mr Angry
Description: Not all academics are a happy, peaceful bunch. It may surprise you, but some are closer in likeness to strict, Victorian teachers than they are to the quirky, bespectacled individuals we sometimes picture when we hear the word “lecturer”.
Habits include: Screaming at anyone who enters the lecture theatre late; growing steadily red in the face as they rant about any given subject.
Best approach: Don’t be late; when asking questions, avoid any topics that are likely to “set them off”.
3. The Lothario
Description: There’s one in every department – a lecturer who walks with a casual swagger and fancies himself as a bit of a ladies’ man. He might be more than a decade older than anyone else in the room, but he doesn’t let that get in the way of his embarrassing attempts at flirtation.
Habits include: Making inappropriate remarks and/or advances towards students; wearing tight-fitting trousers and a shirt, usually with one too many buttons undone; occasionally lifting one leg and resting a foot high on the desk, lunging slightly while he speaks.
Best approach: Avoid one-on-one tutorials, eye contact and sitting in the front row of lectures.
4. Captain Academia
Description: Some lecturers are so awe-inspiringly intelligent that they even struggle to communicate on the same plane as the students they teach. If, despite your best efforts, you frequently find it difficult to understand what your lecturer is actually talking about, then they may fall into this category.
Habits include: Never speaking in words of less than five syllables; regularly referencing their own books and publications in lectures.
Best approach: If you’re struggling to keep up with the pace and level of the lecture, it might be worth trying to grab some one-on-one time with the lecturer so that you can ask them to go over things again with you. If it’s still not getting through, try asking a different lecturer (or your personal tutor) to help you get your head around the topic. They might be better at explaining things!
5. The Campus Legend
Description: There are one or two lecturers in every department that manage to achieve the “legend” status. These are often the lecturers that everybody loves being taught by, who have a genuine gift for public speaking and interacting with students, and are capable of making topics both interesting and fun – they don’t come along often, sadly, but you’ll recognise them straight away when they do (and they’ll usually have a Facebook group dedicated to them).
Habits include: Giving great lectures, making people laugh and generally being awesome.
Best approach: There’s not a lot you need to do for this one, really. Just try and make sure you go to all their lectures, and make sure you check what modules they teach when you’re selecting your options for second year!
Remember to review your university on Whatuni.com – £50 in Amazon vouchers will go to the three best December reviews. Do it for the kids!