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Lecturing as a College Professor – My Experience

Lecturing as a college professor turned out to be easier than I thought. I was a touch exhausted from speaking for 4 hours in a room that didn’t have the best ventilation but logistically it worked out beautifully. 

The preparation time for the lectures is the hardest part but only because it’s the first time that I am teaching this course.

 

College Lecturing

As a physician lecturing on medical terminology at a community college, I didn’t have to learn any new material. My main effort was spent on designing the outline of the course and creating the lecture material.

The Education System

The US education system is about regurgitation of knowledge. Applying facts and concepts doesn’t really come into play until graduate level education and even then it’s fairly narrow in spectrum.

My job is to present the information, provide PowerPoint lectures, engage the students into some Q&A’s, and then test them on the information I barraged them with.

Income

I get paid $60/hour for the time I spend lecturing and for my 2 hours of weekly office-hours. For one class per semester that comes out to 6 hours a week.

My pay isn’t tied to the performance of the students so there isn’t a lot of motivation for me to push my students to perform. Nor is there any worry on my part for any lack of performance.

 

Autonomy 

I was given the autonomy to present the information any way I wanted and as long as I tested the students fairly, I could test them any way I wished.

Perhaps US high school education hasn’t adequately prepared students for in-depth testing or conceptual understanding of new material. Also, I am not sure how good of a lecturer I am so I don’t want to push the students unfairly.

Though I appreciate the autonomy offered to me I was also told that all I had to do was provide the information that was already outlined in the book in PowerPoint format and use the test questions from the test bank which is provided by the book publisher.

 

Course Outline

12 weeks of classes.

4-hr lecture session once a week.

An open-book quiz on each of the 18 book chapters.

2 midterms.

1 final exam.

18 book chapters to cover. Each a different specialty.

I divided the chapters up and decided to offer a mix of didactics and case presentations. By drawing them into a story I am hoping to help them recall the medical facts better. Not sure how effective this is yet.

I spend the first hour barraging the students with lectures, followed by a 10-minute break, and then we do case presentations and review the material in a multiple choice format. These are basically sample questions that we review together.

 

Student Engagement

Engaging students in the material was tougher than I thought. It’s obviously not exciting to have to sit and be lectured to but even delving into why each person decided on their particular career path seemed more impenetrable than I expected.

Most want to become dental assistants, a couple want to be medical assistants. One person wants to become a nurse anesthetist and a few other want to pursue nursing.

One person is interested in becoming a PA and one other person a health informaticist.

Student Questions

There is only one guy who asks a lot of questions and they are pretty good questions. He takes notes, seems the most awake, and appears interested.

I can’t recall anyone else asking questions except for a girl whose sister asked her “why in the hell is a doctor teaching at a college”.

Valid question.

Sample Questions

I always finish the lecture day by throwing up some sample quizzes and having the student pick the right multiple choice answers.

It’s both a practice of test taking which we go over but also testing them on the material. Test-taking is a skill worth mastering for multiple choice formats.

It’s always one or two individuals who answer but other students try as well so that’s really nice to see. I leave the question up long after the first person blurts out the answer to give everyone a chance.

 

Feedback

Though I have only completed two 4-hour lectures, the feedback that I received was quite interesting.

Of nearly 30 students all except for 2 wanted to take the online version of my course but because they filled up they were stuck with my course.

Online Courses

It’s obvious why students prefer to take an online course instead of having to deal with traffic, parking, meals, and lugging their shit into a classroom.

I was under the assumption that an online lecture is taught by a professor who lectures live on the subject – nope. College online courses are pretty much PowerPoints that students scroll through themselves.

There is not even a discussion board or forum usually. Instead, students email the professor if there are questions. The quizzes and midterms and final are all online.

Pace of the Lecture

Most enjoy that I go through the material quickly but a handful wished that I could spend more time on each topic. Interestingly, the more studious individuals requested that I spend more time. I am not sure what to make of this yet but we’ll see.

 

Grades

I have designed the course with weekly online quizzes which are open-book. I have 2 midterms for the semester and a final exam.

So far 6 students haven’t even taken a single quiz which is going to make it hard for them to catch up. Another student has failed the first open-book quiz. By the way – they can take the quizzes as often as they want and I only count the highest scoring attempt.

The course that I am teaching is a prerequisite for a few other courses and also for admissions into a few career tracks such as Nursing and Medical Assisting.

 

The Hard Work

Even as a part-time faculty member I have the ability to teach 3 classes, all of which could be online. That’s 12 hours a week of lectures and about 5 hours of office hours.

Once the lectures are created then you can use that for future classes. It becomes passive-ish income. It’s intellectual property that you can use over and over again especially if you’re doing it online.

I lecture on 2 chapters a week and so I read 2 chapters of this book a week and create 2 sets of PowerPoints and 2 sets of sample quizzes.

That said, I have the outline for the PowerPoints and the quizzes already – I just modify them a little so that it fits my needs.

 

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