Fostering a Good Relationship with Your Professor

SWOSU has a range of personnel attached to teaching duties, so it is important to understand the academic organization. The entire pool of teaching personnel are known as faculty, some of which are full-time, some are part-time, and some work on an occasional basis. The latter two categories are commonly known as adjunct faculty. Many instructors have an educational credential of a doctorate and are properly addressed as Dr. An exception is faculty in legal professions, who have the equivalent educational credential of juris doctorate, but are not typically addressed as Dr.

Like many fields, there is a career ladder in academia. The entry position is either instructor, or if the individual has a doctorate and the position is permanent, assistant professor. The ladder continues upward to associate professor and professor (sometimes referred to as a “full” professor). When the person has supervisory duties over a department, they are titled as chair. When the duties are supervising a school (such as the School of Nursing or the School of Business) then the title is dean. It is appropriate to call any instructor, professor stylized as "prof” as a term of respect. When referring to a position instead of a specific person, it is appropriate to use the term instructor. Why the formality? Faculty have worked years to obtain their position, so respect for the position goes a long way. In addition, faculty are modeling an environment where students will enter a work place setting and serve at the bottom rung of the career ladder.

The syllabus serves as a legal contract between the instructor, SWOSU, and you. It informs you of your responsibilities in the relationship. Deadlines let you know how you can plan for consistent work — look for ways to start early on a big project. Sometimes, specific requirements may be included in the syllabus, sometimes, due to length, they are provided elsewhere.

It is common for instructors to narrowly describe a project in terms of their expectations. These expectations are often linked to point values, although that formula may not be displayed as part of the instructions. Often, the instructor provides a rubric which specifies exactly how points will be distributed in an assignment. Typically, key parts, such as a thesis statement, garner the most points while presentation or formatting errors are less costly. If the instructor does not provide a rubric, kindly ask for one – it lets the instructor know that you are paying attention to details.

Impress your professor to get the most out of your class (as well as the most points). Make the effort to complete assignments on time, be on time for class, sit front and center, be prepared and contribute to class discussions. Asking thoughtful questions not only fills in areas you don’t understand, but shows the professor you have taken the time to read the chapter ahead of time and care about the work.

When? Before the instructor lectures on a topic, take notes from the chapter to be prepared for class. Pay attention to what the professor writes on the board, this information is important to the instructor and likely to appear on a future test.

Faculty are often in a position to recommend or even hire students for positions. Ask a faculty member to be your advisor or serve as a reference for job interviews. Office hours are a great way to get one-on-one guidance and advice. Teaching assistants (also called peer leaders at SWOSU) can earn money by working with professors, grading, assisting in a lab, etc.