The Alumni Association will honor 21 NC State professors on May 3 for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.
Today we’re visiting with Shevaun Neupert, an associate professor of psychology in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Neupert is one of seven professors being recognized as Outstanding Teachers.
What is the key to being a successful teacher? I’m sure there are several keys to being a successful teacher. In a sense, if you consider each student a lock, no one key will fit everyone. The ability to be flexible, teach material in a variety of ways, and listen to students’ feedback are all important. Some of the ways that I strive to be a successful teacher are to: a) convey my enthusiasm for teaching in general and the course material specifically; b) provide students with the tools they need to be successful; and c) make clear connections between the course material and its application to students’ lives and careers.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? Because many graduate students begin my quantitative courses with an apprehension (and some with an outright fear) of statistics, I take the time to explain that my goal is for each student to master the information and that I will do everything I can to facilitate the process. Sometimes this takes the form of encouraging words when trying to learn a new statistical software program, sometimes it means that I share stories of the difficulties I encountered when I first started learning the material, and many times it means meeting with students outside of class to make sure the material and its application are understood. I strive to give them a positive experience with a topic that many consider their least favorite when the semester begins. I am thrilled when students approach me at the end of the semester and tell me that they actually enjoyed learning about statistics. Many students ask me to serve on their master’s and doctoral committees, and my greatest satisfaction is seeing them apply the training they learned in my classes to their own research areas.