Helicopter Professor

In this article,
Berlin Fang, director of instructional design at the Adams Center for Teaching and Learning at Abilene Christian University, talks with Andrew Hibel about how some professors have developed habits and teaching methods that make their own lives harder and inhibit student learning.

With the abundance of educational resources and the spread of constructivist approach to teaching, teachers leave the center stage as sages, but they do not always move to the side as guides. Rather they hover above students, provide excessive guidance, and rescue students at the slightest hint of a problem. Examples include:

  • making themselves available all the time, instead of setting clear office hours;
  • constantly reminding students what is due and when;
  • helping students troubleshoot common technical errors when they should be doing so themselves;
  • sending the same instruction to every student every time someone asks for it;
  • using multiple methods, including extra credit, till everyone is happy with their grades; and
  • providing too many sub-steps for students to complete a task, not trusting students to do the right thing.

    See more on the benefits and disadvantages of this phenomenon in the article.