Agreed, Debera. The other problem with having a bad prof in the first year is it discourages students, potentially causing them to leave engineering. For the reasons we've both mentioned, I think universities would do well to put their best profs in the early part of the curriculum.
Charles , i totally agree with you professors play a very important role not only in engineering but in any professional university . These days having a good professor means you are highly blessed. In my graduation i have come across many very good and average professors . I myself have faced the issue of having not that good professor in my first semester that destroyed my whole chain of that particular courses. If any instructor of your pre requisite course is unfortunately not good than you have to suffer a lot .
Experimental physics is "dirty business" to "assign to grad students". A sad but true commentary on the rapid fall from grace that once existed between theoretical and experimental physics.
Little wonder that most of the cool new PROVABLE applications of science - those which required tedious experimental work to bring to life - are published by men and women who have Chinese or Indian surnames. Those are the folks who seem willing to do the hard experimental dirty work, whilst the ivory towered "theoretical physicist" (whatever THAT is) spouts unprovable ideas about alternate universes and string theory.
Several of the instructors I considered the best in my education had an accent. However, they took their teaching duties seriously. The top educator I had was uniformly cheerful, watched carefully to see the lightbulb turn on in students' eyes, and even joked about his accent when it caused MOMENTARY confusion.
I also had abysmal instructors (some with an accent, some without). Usually though, those instructors were only teaching assistants (graduate assistants, whatever they were called). Instead of an instructor with decades of experience, the TA was only a year or three ahead of the undergraduates.
Concurring with Ollie & notarboca - #1 Issue was language barrier. A Japanese instructor with 'At- best' broken English, masked by a thick accent that sounded like he had a bunch of marbles in his mouth, trying to explain the principles of Calculus. Calculus is hard enough, darn-it!
Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach. Thase that can't teach, lecture. Knowing the subject doesn't mean that you can teach it.
I know one lecturer who can't teach, and doesn't even know his subject !
I hadn't really considered the left brain versus right brain connection, Rob, but it makes sense. For whatever reason, though, it's not always an issue. I know many engineers who are wonderful communicators. When I think back to some of my college profs, however, I realize that your left-vs-right theory is valid.
I have to admit, notarboca, that if I had dropped classes that involved teachers with language problems, I probably would still be in school today. My school -- the University of Illinois at Chicago -- had a LOT of teachers with English difficulties when I was there.
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