I taught for a semester in a private University in Spain (Universidad Católica de Valencia). The subject was ‘Knowledge of the Physical, Natural, Social and Cultural Environment’ for future School Teachers. Obviously, I was only teaching the first half. I have taught before in a public University (Universitat de València Estudi General): two subjects in two years.
I noticed a big change in the attitude of the students towards the teacher and the subject itself. Since I do not want to write a very long post which nobody will read I will just write about two situations which I lived in each University to make my point:
In my first year of teaching at UV I finished the material for differential equations some lessons before the course ended. Then I told the students: ‘In the last sessions I will explain you about the Green’s functions method. I will not ask anything about this in the exam, but it will be very important for you during the following years and it may happen that the teacher won’t explain it from scratch, or will only do it in an applied, arduous way’. Believe it or not, about 90% of the students attended the last sessions and participated actively showing they were really interested. On the other hand, last year while I was teaching at the private university I only found one way in which the students kept attention until the end of the lesson (only sometimes, I admit it). It was not to reply to their insisting questions ‘Are you asking this at the exam?’ until the end (unfortunately it was not possible avoiding a reply). Absolutely nothing: the Physics of color, Relativity, Quantum Physics, etc. was able to make them forgot to ask that question often.
I do not state that this is a result of the difference Public/Private University in Spain. It may not be true. I have not taught at the Public University since 2007 and the students attitude may have changed. However, I was very concerned about this ‘high-school’ behavior showing up at University.
One thing which will probably surprise you: The students marks in my subject were better this last year at the private university than the previous years at the public one. I have asked myself if they did not obtained what they wanted: causing a bad impression to the teacher to have an easier exam and then obtain better marks. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about the most of the students failing the exam which in the end hardly nobody did.
A final remark: I also learned something teaching to students who were not in the Physics degree. That was a challenge, I have to admit. If you have not done so, I recommend it to you. You will have to rethink a lot of ‘natural explanations’ once and again. And this is the way we learn.
More details if you’re interested in this post:
- Where should I send my CV?
- Where can I find more information?
- Important qualities to get the job:
Good GPA, teaching experience, ideology compatible with the University’s creed;
- What is the typical salary level in the first 5 years?