“Engaging.” “Informative.” “Super-interesting.”
“Professor Deutsch will quite literally make a grey concrete floor sound exceptionally interesting.”
The subject is Construction.
For the 140 students, mainly sophomores, this course - ARCH 231 Anatomy of Buildings - was their first exposure to how buildings are made.
The lectures took place early weekday mornings.
(Early morning courses are often equated with negative student evaluations.)
“They keep you engaged, and the lectures don't drag on.”
(Lecture courses are often equated with negative student evaluations.)
And yet, in an early morning lecture course last semester, I achieved something I had never achieved before.
It took 22 years of college-level teaching, each semester tweaking the delivery and content - and how many anecdotes and stories from practice I'd share - to arrive at what had been for me the holy grail of teaching.
100% positive student feedback.
“The lectures were informative about both construction-related things as well as real world things. Randy Deutsch is an interesting professor, with lots to teach.”
“The professor is very knowledgeable, and the assignments have caused me to be very familiar with software I will use in my professional career.”
“Thank you, professor. It was so helpful, and I learned a lot.”
I share this not to boast - but to concede just how difficult it had been to arrive at consensus on what a truly exciting teaching and apparently learning experience looks like.
On the first day of class, I explain to my students that when I took this same course 40+ years ago, I sat in the back row, disengaged and unamused.
The professors were toughen-up macho types with muddy boots - they wore boots - the mud no doubt from a nearby job site.
I vowed if I ever returned to the school and got the chance to teach Construction, I would do so in a way that was non-threatening, encouraging and every bit as interesting and engaging as I found working in the field had been.
If only it was so easy!
“Professor Deutsch is one of the most driven and motivated Professors I have met in my life.”
It took me 22 years to arrive at the point where my students could agree that learning had indeed been had - and no one apparently had a terrible time in the interim.
“The professor encouraged people to talk and try to answer questions which created an up-lifting environment.”
I am so grateful to have lived long enough to see this day.
I cannot promise that I will be able to repeat this performance every semester.
But now know it is doable - if written feedback is any indication and to be believed.
It helps if you love what you get to do every day.
And that I do.