Term wanes, minds wander

Erin Fowler, Staff Writer

Classes during the semester’s last few weeks can begin to seem tedious. Students’ minds can drift.

At least some professors notice and are working hard to maintain attention with different methods, some distinctive.

Some, like assistant astronomy professor Stephen Lindberg, use labs to keep students’ attention.

“On those rare occasions when the sky is clear, we can set up the telescopes outside. It can be really awe-inspiring,” Lindberg said.

Other professors, such as history professor Paul Newman, use music to create a connection in their lectures.

“I play music from each period I lecture about. Music is connected to the time period in which it is made. They like it because it’s taking something that they love and making it relevant. It’s a connector to the past. The purpose is educational, but it provides a hook,” Newman said.

Newman also uses storytelling methods in his lectures.

“I connect people to it. When I tell stories I use people’s faces and people’s names. I probably tell a thousand stories in 20 lectures,” he said.

Some, like Management professor Douglas Reed, maintain attention by simply connecting to them on a more personal level and by using group work.

Reed’s students participate each year in a program called “Outdoor Odyssey” in which students who just met are grouped together and taken to a campsite to work together on things such as obstacle courses to build cooperation.

“I want them to be managers and leaders who take care of people. I try to be a role model in my classes; I run my classes like a business,” he said.

However, the common theme among many professors is love and passion for the subjects they teach.

“I do love it, it’s always new, it’s always exciting, there’s never a dull moment,” said English literature professor Catherine Cox. I love what I do, I really do. Students will pick up on the professor’s passion for what they teach.”

Students said they aslo find these methods helpful. “I find the entertainment factor very effective. You remember the material and understand it more,” said freshman Michael Gruber.