5 responses to “Grad vs Undergrad Teaching Styles”

  1. nameless

    Wait, so you received a number of reviews all indicating the same potential problem in your teaching style, and you have no interest in correcting it or even determining why?

  2. Carmen Parisi

    Maybe it was because my school wasn’t a huge research institution but I thought my grad classes were the most useful courses I took in college. They were much more trial by fire than my UG courses which tended to be very process focused. I’m not saying I got nothing out of UG courses but I learned way more by being given an open ended design problem and told to attack it than simply following a lab packet (which was usually poorly written). Now that I think of it, the UG classes I liked most were taught by the professors who treated them more like grad classes…

    I definitely cursed, sweated, and brawled my way through some of the work in a few grad classes but I was able to recognize their value in the end. The professors ended to like teaching grad level and non-required undergrad classes more from what I could tell. Having the freedom to teach as they pleased with students who were, in most cases, really interested in the material improved the classes for them in my opinion.

  3. Sen


    It depends on the grad class. I assume there are fundamental graduate classes that are important wherein the basics must be taught that don’t get taught at the undergraduate level. For example, most UG places have a DSP class, however, at the UG level you won’t learn adaptive algorithms such as LMS. I think that in those classes, rigor is still important, because you are laying a foundation.

    Graduate classes that build upon this can be more open ended and therefor cater towards each students research area. I remember starting out in grad school without a firm understanding of the background math, or for that matter an intuition of how things work, and getting very frustrated reading papers that assume all this prior knowledge. I think classes really help there.

  4. nameless

    Not to belabor the point, but in my experience being unapproachable has less to do with whether questions are answered than how they are answered.

    I had a boss who could be incredibly condescending, even to people who clearly had a better grasp of the subject than him. (It was really quite astounding.) That, and he tended to pout or lash out when told bad news. For the life of him, he couldn’t figure out why no one came to ask him questions. “I’m here to help,” he would say.

    I’ve also had teachers who were too busy telling their students that, “see, this really is easy” or “it’s common sense” to even stop and really hear what the students were trying to say.

    The teachers who best manage to convey the material are the ones who foster a connection with the students.

    That said, good luck in this career path.