Discussion 4

Ch.4: What in your considered judgement, is the most serious professional failing of college/university professors as regards their students? Explain precisely what model of the professional/client relationship your answer assumes. What do professors need to do to correct this problem? Can students contribute in any way to the correction? Explain.


27 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Carol Kines on 2011/07/12 at 12:33 AM

    The fiduciary model is the relationship my answer assumes. The fiduciary model suggests that the professor has significant knowledge and authority, but the client or student should be consulted to agree on plans. While strict agreement to the professors’ syllabus and lesson plans is not possible, it is important that students be in support of the professor’s educational plans. I feel that the most serious professional failing of university professors is not providing student’s a voice in the educational process, and failing to ask for recommendations and ideas for improvement. In many cases, students are asked to fill out surveys at the end of a course. This is an excellent idea, but would make sense to be given twice during the course to allow the recommendations and ideas to be implemented. For some reason, most courses provide no such opportunity to provide feedback. Students are a good source of information and professors should take advantage of this resource. Students should also verbalize their ideas during classes when this is possible and accepted by the professor. There should be more open exchange and dialogue on the course requirements, and students should be allowed to make choices when this is possible. I have had some excellent professors who had a basic framework of requirements, but involved the students in the process of deciding the syllabus and some of the assignments. This helped students feel more ownership in the process. At a minimum, professors should at least ask students for feedback at the end of a course, and make improvements where feasible.


    • Posted by Ashley Whitford on 2011/08/05 at 8:21 PM

      I read your entire post, and I agree with what you wrote. I referenced you in my post, I hope you don’t mind.


  2. I believe that the fiduciary model of professional/client relationship exemplifies the expectations of both professor and college student; “one needs a concept in which the professional’s superior knowledge is recognized, but the client retains a significant authority and responsibility in decision making.” (Bayles, p.118) For example, even though one may argue that the student has entered into a contractual agreement with the professor as an agent of the university from which he is hoping to attain a degree, the professor’s knowledge far exceeds that of the student’s in the particular course, even if the student may be required to take that particular subject only as part of university general education requirements- somewhat, but not specifically paternalistic, as Callahan points out. It is still ultimately up to the student what he or she choose to do with that information and knowledge imparted by the professor, as Bayles so eloquently states on page 119, “The appropriate ethical conception of the professional-client relationship is one that allows clients as much freedom to determine how their life is affected … on the basis of their ability to make decisions.” Thus, how I choose to view a humanities elective, as a means of increasing my overall knowledge and perception of the world, or as a class forced upon me by the university so I can get my degree and hopefully a good job, is ultimately up to me. Being a non-traditional adult student with some 20+ years of university experience, I can honestly say that the only major failing I have personally witnessed is when a professor neglects to “curve” or adjust a grading scale based upon the average performance of his students. As a professional, I would hope and expect that my professor would be able to “tell” by his experience when his presentation of the material is inadequate or certain questions on an exam are just out-right “tricky,” plus be able to recognize when a student is truly trying their best to comprehend the material. The best way to possibly correct this problem would be to probably get to know his students better- that way he would be able to be a better judge of their motivations for taking the course.


  3. Posted by Misty Bess on 2011/07/20 at 8:48 PM

    One of the biggest failings of college/university professors is sometimes a lack of respect for the students that they are instructing. This falls under a paternalistic model. The professor seems to have an idea of what is best in his mind for the students and develops plans accordingly. Now, this is not negative in itself and how I understand most lesson plans are developed. It is when the instructor refuses to acknowledge feedback of either how beneficial or unfavorable these approaches are. When receiving criticism everyone is bound to have differencing opinions, but when a majority of the course group have the same views, it should be the instructor’s responsibility to take a closer look at his methods and either justify his reasons for continuing in this fashion or tweak his methods to better suit the needs of his pupils. What I have personally seen occur however, is the justification of “this is how I feel is best for you to learn, end of discussion.” That reasoning is likened to “Because I’m your mother and I said so.” Education should be beneficial to both professor and students alike. It is the responsibility of the student to do the course work, meet the requirements and ultimately gain the most knowledge out of the course. With that being said, it is up to the professor to continue to be open to and learn methods of instruction that will help maximize the student’s growth and success for the particular course. Professors should make efforts to do this anyway they have access to do so. Continuing Education courses, independent research or just sincerely listening to the feedback of the class can be ways to achieve this. Students can contribute by being an active participant in the classroom. Give the instructor the respect he/she deserves and at the appropriate times (whether it is personally aside or in an anonymous survey) give your feedback. If this is done enough, hopefully the professor will take these viewpoints more seriously.



  4. Posted by Hilary Carr on 2011/07/27 at 3:26 PM

    Assuming Fried’s model of Friendship and applying it to the college/university setting, the lack of interest in a student’s lives outside of their classroom is a problem with the professor-student relationship.
    In my experience, it has been the professors who have taken an interest in my interests that I have enjoyed taking courses from the most. The enjoyment of the course has also led to my interest in the material and my quality of work in the course.
    Acknowledging the short-comings of Fried’s model, it is true that professors and students are not equal, however, students want to be treated as equals and it is the relationship that is formed that engages the student in the topic and holds their interest.
    This does not include going out after class or something like that, simply learning everyone’s names and asking questions about their backgrounds.



  5. In my experience where professors usually fall short is making the information there going to teach interesting, and understandable to the students. I know they teach in a way in which feels comfortable to them but, not every student learns and understands with the same method. It would be nice if students could have an outlet to express how they learn best and the professor work with that . I’ve heard so many times students say I have no idea what he/or she is talking about and they lose focus. My answer coincides with the fiduciary model as professors should ask the students is this way im explaining the material work for you and the student should be able to agree or disagree. Then the teacher can work with the information given. Tjohnson


  6. i think there need to be more professior who understand students and try to make the teaching exp. fun so that students would want to come to school everyday cause they no that there class is going to be excited like for a expamle if you got a history class instead of making students watch boring videos teachers should come up with a fun activity the whole class can do like break the students up into groups and ask a question and the class as a group have a amount of time to find the answer then submit it to the teacher.i think teachers and students should grow a bond a professor should no a little something about each student in there class and i think the students can help bye telling the teacher if the class is boring but tellin them in a nice com way not mean ask they taecher to do something fun but tell the teacher that there learning tech is cool but can we try something different thats what i think about students and professors.


  7. Posted by Walter Bell on 2011/07/31 at 6:42 PM

    I will assume the fiduciary model becuase the professor does have the authority with knowledge and experience but the client isn’t to be less equal in participation. I believe a lot of professors go wrong when there is not an effort made to have students involved. Students are the ones learning and usually a lecture where students listen the entire time and do not have much of an opportunity to ask questions is not the best educational setup. I believe professors could very easily fix this problem by still lecturing, however asking students questions to make sure they understand the material throughout class time. This also encourages the students to pay attention and also feel more comfortable asking questions because they see the relaxed atmosphere and the fact that other students have the same questions.


  8. Posted by NChaney on 2011/08/02 at 10:28 PM

    i believe the relationship between professors and the students is the fiduciary model. The reason for this is due to the simple fact that the professor holds the authority. The students however can suffer from this. In my opinion the number one problem with the relationships between professors and students is a simple one. For example, I’m an Engineering major and the majority of our class time is spent solving problems. When a professor puts a problem on the board and proceeds to get upset when none of the students can solve it is annoying. They’ve been solving these problems over and over for years, I’d hope then could solve it in a matter of minutes. What they need to do is have more discussion sessions during class so they can have a full understanding of where the students stand, and then address th problem from there. In my opinion the professor must understand that their knowledge is valuable and we, the students, are here to learn from them. With that being said they must remember they were in our shoes at one point in their lives.


  9. Posted by mnortey on 2011/08/04 at 6:46 PM

    in the fiduciary model both parties are responsible and their judgements given consideration. in reference to students and professors i feel that of course professors are superior to their students simply because the knowledge level its a significant difference. in regards to students and professors failing their kids has much to do with the respect that is given and received. it is fairly easy for a student to disrespect a professor who is merely trying to do his or her job. a professors job is to be authoritative and give knowledge, it is up to students to retain the information and respond.


  10. Posted by mnortey on 2011/08/04 at 6:49 PM

    in order to correct this gap and bridge of disrespect both students and professors should make more of an effort to realize that at the college level things are taken much more serious and the knowledge attained at this level will in fact stay with you for the rest of your life.


  11. Posted by Dominic DeRose on 2011/08/05 at 1:17 AM

    I’m going to say that the most serious professional failing I see between the professor and student relationship is the feeling that the professor is unquestionable in many cases, I believe this would fall under the fiduciary model presented by M.D.Bayles. The professor assumes a great deal of responsibility and authority over the classroom in this model and is the final authority in any given event within the classroom. Further more the majority of burden for the information presented is left up to the professor while the act of memorizing/comprehending is left to the student. Most of the time I’ve noticed students display a type of anxiety towards answering questions out loud, and in the event of what appears to be a dispute in the grading system the student will seldom consider questioning the reasoning behind the grading. It is in my opinion that this model hurts both the professor and the student and furthermore it is completely assumed regardless of the setting. Even professors that seem clearly approachable have a strange aura of being untouchable. I have also seen classrooms where this was not a problem, usually as the professor interacts with students more often and in particular continues to press that anyone can approach him/her at anytime about anything without ridicule. I believe that engaging more with the students would break down the barrier that is almost entirely assumed.


  12. Posted by Kimberly Bertmeyer on 2011/08/05 at 3:52 AM

    From my experience with the university setting, I would have to say that most professors follow a fiduciary model when it comes to their relationships with students. I do believe that students should recognize that professors have a knowledge superior to ours and students should respect them because of that. Professors have devoted their lives to pass on that information to us.
    It is true that the clients or students still play a significant role in the relationships. Students can choose whether or not to go to class. Students can choose whether or not to study. Students can choose whether or not to come to office hours or talk to the professors.
    It is the duty of the professors to provide the students with the information necessary for the course and it is the duty of the students to take the information and use the resources and time given to them to learn the information.
    The student are the weaker party because they are dependent upon the teacher. They must do what the professors suggest and study the material given to them if they wish to pass the course. They do not have to do these things, but more than likely they will not pass.
    I believe there are some issues when following the fiduciary model. Some professors take their authority and superior knowledge and really act like they are better than students and do little to help them. They present the material in a way that is familiar to them (a person with their level of knowledge), rather than someone who is just starting to learn the material. This is not always the case, but i have come across this issue before. When professors act in this way, students are reluctant to ask for help.
    Professors could try to fix this problem by getting to know students on a more personal basis. I know this is not always possible with larger classes, but at least be willing to get to know a student if they approach them. Professor should try to present the material in an interesting way that will hold the students attention and makes the student believe they are truly learned in the subject, rather than simply reading off of a pre-made powerpoint.
    Students should also try harder to respect the professors by coming to class, paying attention without distractions, being on time to class and other small things that show a lot about character and respect for others. This way, students and professors would have a more mutual respect for each other.


  13. Posted by Mike Senchak on 2011/08/05 at 1:41 PM

    The biggest failing by instructors in colleges falls within Joan C. Callahan’s discussion of “Academic Paternalism”. It is understood that in many instances the professor does know what is best for the education of the student. Additionally, this concept is built upon beneficence. However, the biggest problem is that many times the instructor fails to recognize the students adult status. My personal experience is that in some instances the instructor will not hear out a students point of view or let the student make a point. Many times this comes off as arrogance and ignorance. Next, as discussed by Carr, this learning process is actually a service being requested by the student and the two are essentially in a contract. I have seen this with the advisor/student relationship as well. I feel it is important for many of these professors to understand that their salaries are being paid by the students tuition and the students are essentially customers and should be treated as such.


  14. Posted by Ashley Whitford on 2011/08/05 at 8:22 PM

    Along with many of the other posts here, I agree that the fiduciary model would support my answer the best in this case. This model provides that the professor, although he has more knowledge and power in the classroom, can work with the students and provide the best learning experience possible. The student would be in agreement with the professor, causing a better working environment for both parties. In my opinion I believe the most serious professional failing of college or university professors is that the student doesn’t get the chance to communicate with the professor to develop new ideas in which to help the class. The student does not get an opportunity to learn at his or her best ability because of the way that the professor is running the class. In my experience, I believe this can be fixed by having the students write down or talk about what they want to get out of the course, so that both sides can understand what everyone wants. I also think that, as Carol Kines suggested, the students should be able to provide feedback multiple times during the duration of the course to the professors so that they can adjust their courses to help maximize the learning potential in the classroom. This would make classes much more enjoyable and it would help students achieve a higher potential.



  15. Posted by Nicole Zarzycki on 2011/08/09 at 12:03 AM

    I would say that the biggest failure of the college/university professors with regards to their students would be diversity. I feel that the professors especially think that everybody is coming from the same backround or way of life. They need to understand that not every student is the same, has the same life, or experiences of his or her peers. Students need to let their professors know if they are struggling and professors need to be more understanding and willing to help their students. Right now I feel that my answer fits into the paternalism model by recognizing that the professors have all the power. But a university should fit into the fiduciary model where both the professor and student have a voice in the decision making.


  16. Posted by Natalie Haynam on 2011/08/09 at 12:07 AM

    I believe the most serious professional failing of college/university professors as regards to their students is the lack of one-on-one time they provide to their students. Over the past few years that I have been in college, I have had a wide range of professors that approach interacting with students differently. Some of my professors scheduled conferences for each student to discuss course matters, others had set office hours each week, and also I have had professors that come around to each student asking if they need help. On the other hand, I’ve had professors who have done the complete opposite of this and did not set forth the extra one-on-one time each student needs. When teaching college students, professors should have the realization that every day is a learning experience for them, and they are becoming familiarized with new material. If the professor does not make time for each student to help them better understand the material, a student may fall behind because often times, students are embarrassed to admit that they don’t understand something in front of the class. My answer assumes the fiduciary model of the professional/client relationship. In this model, both parties are responsible, and one party is at a more of an advantageous position than the other one. The more advantaged group has an obligation towards the other party. The stronger party in this case is the professor because they have been educated and know the material they are lecturing about. One of the main obligations of their work is to educate the students because we are at a lesser advantage and we trust that the professor will educate us. Through this model, professors are suppose to teach us through their knowledge of a particular subject matter, and I believe if they spend more one-on-one time with their students, the student will be at a greater advantage to learn the material. In order to correct this problem, professors should ask more questions during lectures, tell their students they are available before and after class, email the students periodically, have regular office hours, and try to go around the room to talk to their students one-on-one during down time about any concerns they may have. Under the fiduciary model, the client participates in the decision making process, and in this case the client would be the student. Students can contribute to this correction by making it their responsibility to take advantage of professor’s office hours, go early to class and stay afterwards, asking the professor questions during class, and emailing the professor about any concerns they have involving lack of one-on-one time with them. I believe if students do not speak up about lack of one-on-one interaction with their professor, the professor will continue to lack in this area.


  17. Posted by Michael Green on 2011/08/09 at 1:09 AM

    I would say the biggest professional failing of a professor to a student takes place during some online courses. Not all of them but certain ones. A student receives his instruction on assignments purely on whats been posted on the online blackboard. When a professor assigns something and 90 percent of the class does it wrong, then I think that professor did not assign properly. But instead of the professor paying the price for his lack of instruction, the students hard earned (and expensive) GPA gets affected. The professor faces no consequence. He just gives everybody a C and goes on with without a care. This falls under the fiduciary model.


  18. Posted by Michelle Green on 2011/08/09 at 1:57 AM

    Communication is the biggest failure in the professor / student relationship. Professors have already gone thru schooling and already know what they are talking about. It seems to me sometimes professors seems to just assume that the student knows complex words and use them in their teachings. That only leaves the student wondering what the is talking about. This belongs in the fiduciary model.


  19. Posted by Marc Kosec on 2011/08/09 at 11:40 PM

    Following the fiduciary model, I have always been under the assumption that when it comes to universities, that the Engineering Model should be used. The professors are there to present material and answer questions and/or comments provided by the students. I feel that recently it has been a burden on the professors to keep EVERY student in their class at the same level. If something is unclear to one student, the entire class must stop and the issue will be discussed. Although this is a good practice for small issues, when said discussion becomes a 3 hour long marathon, it is difficult, as a student, to maintain the level of attention that is needed to absorb information. I feel there should ALWAYS be a student aid to help the professors by taking students that are confused on a certain subject and ironing out their confusion separate from others.


  20. Posted by Molly on 2011/08/10 at 3:10 PM

    Stated in the book under fiduciary it says, “In a fiduciary relationship, both parties are responsible and their judgements given consideration. Because one party is in a more advantageous position, he or she has special obligations to the other, The weaker party depends upon the stronger in ways in which the other does not and so must TRUST the stronger party.” I believe that this statement right here is what is wrong with the professors/ student relationship in colleges/ universities. Most of the time the professor doesn’t work as a team with his or her students, they act as the controller and therefore however he or she teaches only a handful of those students catch on because they can relate to the learning process when on the other hand most of the students struggle because they learn better in a different way. I have had some professors like this but I have also had ones that will teach the same thing about two to three different ways for more students to catch on, and when more students catch on the more they can help the others see and want to pay closer attention because they feel their success. Also when professors teach in different ways it can sometimes be a time saver because there are less question and there isn’t a big need to go over the same material time and time again. On the other hand, the student, should act as the weaker party but still have TRUST in the stronger party because the less time they think that they already know what the professor is talking about when they don’t the more time they take actually learning and appreciating the knowledge that they get from their professor. Also another way a student can work as a team player is to tell the professor the best way they learn, or what they like in the class, how the professor goes about teaching in some ways that help and some ways that don’t. I had a french teacher like this and the more we the students communicated with her the more we learned because we learned in a different way almost every few days and it really brought all of our grades up and gave us confidence in the class and in her.


  21. I have come across many different types of professors- some of which take more of an interest on student’s progress and future goals, while some are just teaching because they are being paid. The downfall with the professors that indicate to the students that they are being paid, whether the student shows up to class or not, or learn anything, is one large reason why students fail in courses. These professors are using the aspect of the Fiduciary model in which states, ” [it] is one that allows clients as much freedom to determine how their life is affected as is reasonably warranted on the basis of their ability to make decisions (119).” So professors are assuming the student wants to come to class if they want to learn, which is a good assumption on the professors part. The problem with the professors that have this motto are usually the ones that take no interest in how a student learns or if the material is interesting. Because the professor has a more advantageous position, “he or she has special obligations to the other ( 118),” I feel as if professors could work harder at presenting the material in an interesting fashion and take more of an effort to be engaged in the students learning. I have always been more interested in classes where the teachers gave real life examples and had a genuine interest in the material they were teaching and their students. From my experience, most of the general college courses have professors with this mentality. The teachers have many students and are teaching basic principals, which makes it hard to create an interesting and personal environment. This is a challenge that the professors should try to work on, mainly because these students are not sure of their future plans and could be influenced in a negative way with a professor and course they did not like.


  22. Posted by Michael Sammartino on 2011/08/10 at 8:14 PM

    The most serious professional failing of college/university professors as regards their students is a language barrier. My answer best follows the Fiduciary Model. Not all professors are able to resolve the problem since the biggest problem could be an accent in which students cannot understand. If students cannot interpret what the professor is saying there is no way they will be able to retain the knowledge the professor is giving. Students can contribute be tactfully making the professor aware to the problem and possibly asking for a power point or other form of presentation that could be read.



  23. Posted by Leah Richards on 2011/08/11 at 3:36 PM

    In my opinion, the fiduciary model is the most common professional failing of a college professor in regards to their students. The Fiduciary Model suggests that the professor has authority over their students, but the students should be consulted on plans and participation should be equal. In most cases, a professor hands out the class outline or syllabus and that is the “be all”, “end all” to how the class is maintained or facilitated. If the college would enforce this model, the students should have a voice to make the class as successful as possible. Consent suggestions and discussions about the course could be helpful thoughtout the course. The students should be given an opportunity to suggest what may work better.



  24. I feel that the most serious professional failing of university professors in regards to their students is the disconnect in the relationship they have with their students. The students don’t understand the professor, but will not engage with the professor outside of the classroom, because they feel like they cannot build a relationship with their professor. They feel as if they cannot ask their professor questions. I believe most university professors currently follow the fiduciary model. The professor must assume the responsibility of running the classroom, providing the information to their students, and keeping authority over the class. The student depends on the professor to provide them the information they need to succeed, and to use this in the student’s interests. I believe this could be fixed by giving more open discussion forums allow the students to voice out to the professors. The central question to ask is who makes what decisions, and does the professor account the students in these decisions? Do the student’s have enough freedom or decision-making power to determine how there life is affected? The student could contribute fix this by coming to the professors, and making an effort to build a relationship with the professor and sound off their opinions. It will help to build the gap of the lack of trust that the student may have in their professor. The professor can help to make recommendations to help lead the student in the right direction to succeed in class if they develop this relationship.



  25. Posted by Philip Ciprian on 2011/08/11 at 11:24 PM

    The biggest fault I see with college/university professionals is the weak interpersonal connection between the two. This correlates with the engineering model of professionalism. Students are generally just fed information and sometimes expected to make their own assumptions and choices with little guidance. This is sometimes a fault credited to large classes and diverse students, but sometimes that seems to be accepted by the professor and no attempt is made for a more personal interaction. Understandably, this can be faulted by the students, as from observation in many classes, most students are just there to get through the class and not engage when engaged by the professor.


  26. Posted by JScacchetti on 2011/08/11 at 11:34 PM

    I support the fiduciary model as trust is vital in life. For college, trust is formed by the adage, “what you put into it, you will get out of it.” So students are trusted to put their best effort in the academic setting.

    From my personal experience as for what the biggest problem is between the student/professor relationship is going to be the lack of commitment (both by the students and sometimes the professors). For instance, a tenured professor is forced to teach a general education class of over 100 students. The professor does not want to teach the course, therefor he doesn’t care about whether or not the students learn the content. Students trust professors to design the course to make it worth their time in taking it.

    My suggestions (although they alone are too powerful and not realistic) would be to: remove tenure, change departmental procedures on who has to teach what classes, hire younger professors who would do a better job than the older professor and let the older professor work on more advanced classes or research. Now all these solutions are extreme and are unlikely to solve all the problems as they each entail their own political outcomes, so they’re likely to remain as paper suggestions.

    As for what students can do to help solve this problem, they can try to get one on one time with the professor to make the class more interesting. Like for example, here at YSU in the Honors Program, you can contract a class. By contracting a class you assert yourself into one on one communication with the professor and learn something outside of the normal curriculum. You are then happy with what you’ve learned rather than being sour about a horrible class.


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