I often have students coming to my office telling me that they want to take my classes because they have heard or read negative comments about this or that professor or because they have heard or read positive comments about my classes. So I tell them that I also receive negative comments and that other professors receive excellent and positive comments. I tell them that these comments do not necessarily present reality to them or tell them what they want to know. Instead of reading/listening to comments from students they never met, I tell them it is more beneficial to meet the teachers and ask them about their teaching method and expectations. That is called, COMMUNITY OF TRUTH.
The teacher, if willing, and usually he/she is, will give students a very good idea of his/her teaching philosophy. If the students know themselves well enough they will see if they will be able to learn by working with that professor with such and such a method of teaching.
The teachers will not change their teaching method to help just a particular student or students of a particular learning style. Teachers try to teach by applying different teaching methods in order to help all types of learners but they usually have a certain style. Therefore, it is good for students to know the teacher's style. Teaching styles can be very different and some students find this or that style more appealing to them. I say "appealing" because many students want instant gratification without much work, and then later they have serious problems in higher level classes.
Above I mentioned "students that they never met" because I have noticed that several students that leave comments online are angry and everything they say is negative, while several others are very enthusiastic, idolizing the teacher, and everything they say is positive. Very seldom do you see comments coming from students who are objective, sincere, and mature. These students are not angry, and they do not idolize the teacher, but instead, they provide very useful feedback to the other students that might look for guidance.
I try to attract to join my classes the type of students who are willing to try to understand the mystery of our universe and feel the joy that results from such understanding and appreciation. I hope that students who join my classes are willing to participate in a Socratic dialog. In a Socratic dialog the "teacher" never answers the question directly, but instead of giving an answer to the student's question, the teacher replies with a question until the student sees the answer him/herself, until the answer comes from the teacher who lives within the student, until the student becomes the teacher him/herself. To see this procedure unfolding, which actually is possible more or less during office hours, is awesome and brings an unspeakable joy to both the student and the instructor. I see it without exception in the student's eyes, which flash with joy when it clicks. Getting beyond memorization and striving for deeper understanding of science is one of my first priorities and it is achieved much easier through writing. Students who spend the time to rewrite their notes are likely to be more successful. I believe that I am here for you not to just answer your questions but most importantly, to guide you in asking those questions that can bring you real understanding and the joy which comes along with it.
I also believe that the teaching of science is useless unless the teaching is connected to the rest of the educational fields; thus it should be connected to sociology, philosophy, psychology, history, the arts, and all of the rest. That anything is connected to everything is the core of my teaching and fortunately, most of my students like this kind of teaching.
Welcome to my class!
A professor profile: Dr. Andreas Toupadakis
The DNA of UCD: Andreas Toupadakis
"Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel"
-- Socrates --