In order to pass the second time, she had to figure out how to stay engaged in topics she wasn’t interested in. She started by retaking them in different semesters, then she went to her professors. “My new professors were able to work with me to find the best way for me to understand the material,” said Lowe. “I learned how to manipulate the material in a way that my visual-learning mind could really grasp the concepts. By the end of my second go around, I was tutoring my classmates and ended up with an A-plus in both.”
Conversation heart: A-pluses 4 U
Katie Schumacher, a junior at Christopher Newport University, earned a D in physical chemistry. With only one section taught by one professor, she had to make the most of it if she wanted to stay on track for graduation.
“I went to office hours [and] tried to make it to a weekly homework session,” said Schumacher. “It didn’t keep me interested really, but it helped me keep my head above water.” With a class that was so infamous that it warranted a bumper sticker that read, “Honk if you passed P Chem,” Schumacher’s strategy seemed to be a good one.
Conversation heart: Pass & Party
Esther Fleischmann, a senior lecturer in the Biological Sciences Department at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, knows from teaching countless introduction courses that it is hard to keep students’ interest. “The classes are large, and for some students the material is already familiar. The course is often a survey, not going into much depth, and that too may make it seem less interesting than the topic really is,” she explains.
From a professor’s prospective, what should you do? Fleischmann says:
- “Always go into the class with a positive attitude.”
- “Forum study groups to talk about the material.”
- Read “in depth about some of the material covered [to] make the subject come to life.”
- “Engage the teacher,” because “teachers often enjoy talking about the course with students.”
If all of these strategies fail, Fleischmann suggests, “sometimes it is necessary to just do the work and put in the best possible effort, knowing that at least some of the information will be pertinent at a later time.”
Conversation heart: 4-Prong Approach