Students’ Expectations of Professors
by Billy B.L. Lim, Illinois State University
Editors note: Quite unexpectedly, an article by John Williams on clarifying grade expectations (in our August/September 1993 issue) has prompted two interesting replies. Solomon and Nellen extended and elaborated on the original expectations (February 1996). Now, Lim has turned the tables—and asked his students to identify their expectations of professors.

John Williams shared his "profiles" of expectations of an "A" or outstanding student and a "C" or average student. By distributing these grade profiles, he makes explicit his expectations and helps students to work on their attitudes and behaviors as well as intellectual prowess. This paper follows up that interesting approach by turning the expectations around and asking, "What do students expect from professors?"

I raised the question with 50 of my students during a recent semester. I provided copies of Williams’ article, so they knew precisely what was needed from them in terms of format. They then shared their expectations of an outstanding professor and an average or typical professor. Below is a compilation of some of their expectations.

The "A" Professor---An Outstanding Professor
Preparation: "A" professors are able to prepare very well-organized syllabi and follow them. They always bring a complete set of notes to class and are prepared to lecture the materials thoroughly and efficiently.

Enthusiasm: "A" professors are enthusiastic about teaching. They make students feel welcome when seeking help, be it personal or academic. They have a genuine desire and interest in the subject they are teaching.

Clarity: "A" professors answer their students’ questions clearly, accurately, and specifically. They make homework assignments clear and to the point.

Research: "A" professors are always up to date with new information. They are able to introduce the latest research into classrooms and always keep an eye on the latest technology and prepare their students for the future.

Assignments: "A" professors give out assignments regularly to reinforce class materials. Their assignments are challenging and pertain to class discussions. They always make sure that the students have the tools and knowledge to finish the assignments on time. They grade the assignment promptly and make adequate comments on homework and tests.

Humor: "A" professors have a sense of humor that makes the class more "fun" to attend. They bring to the class a level of dynamics that helps to maintain the interest of students when the materials become dry.

Fairness: "A" professors are fair in treating students. They grade students according to the student’s performance and efforts. They are not biased, but assign grades impartially.

The "C" Professor—An Average or Typical Professor
Preparation: "C" professors do not prepare their lectures well. They do not have syllabi that students can follow. They often misplace their notes or forget to bring them to class. They frequently find themselves trying to figure out where they were previously. They do not have a clear plan about what to cover.

Enthusiasm: "C" professors usually do not show a strong commitment toward the class. They will be half-hearted when it comes to teaching and they usually are not focused on the task at hand.

Clarity: "C" professors present their lectures in such a way that the students feel lost. They are vague about the requirements for assignments.

Research: "C" professors are not up to date in their field of study. They do not have full command of the subject and often try to conceal it.

Assignments: "C" professors give minimal assignments and they do not grade the assignments for weeks after. They pile up assignments and assign all of them at once without proper warning. They give assignments that are unreasonable, expecting students to know more than the students do. They also give poor guidance on assignments.

Humor: "C" professors present the materials in a monotone voice and manner that could make an interesting subject boring. They appear aloof and intimidating.

Fairness: "C" professors are not necessarily fair in treating students. They favor students that they know prior to class and give some sense of inequality in the classroom.