Professor says: Come to office hours and focus on learning, not just grades

Posted February 8, 2018

Economics Professor Hossein Eftekari feels very lucky to have been able to teach at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls for the past 33 years. He feels that the university offers its students a great education at a low cost. One of the best parts of his job is interacting with students in class and one-on-one during office hours. The problem is, not enough students take advantage of his office hours and therefore struggle in class.

“I highly encourage my students to come and see me. Unfortunately they don’t,” Eftekari said. “They don’t ask their questions in class. They need to come on a regular basis if they’re weak. But unfortunately they don’t come. I believe some of them are very shy. Another issue is that coming to a professor’s office is intimidating, or they have a fear of that. I usually tell them, ‘Please consider me your friend.’ I don’t see myself above my students and neither below them but on equal grounds.”

Eftekari, is not the only UWRF professor who attributes the failure of students to seek help from their teachers. English Professor Kate Maude, who often teaches fall semester freshman English classes, says that students do not take advantage of campus resources or instructor’s office hours.

“I think a lot of time students feel like they are interrupting or disturbing their instructors when they come to their offices,” Maude said, “but that is why instructors have office hours — to meet with students.”

Remedial math coordinator and math professor Grettel Hecht found that one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of good grades for many of her students in Math 10 and Math 30 classes is a phobia of math.

“The students who are successful in those classes,” Hecht said are the ones who are, “attending class regularly and not letting (themselves) get far behind, because especially in math, concepts build on each other.”

Students seeking better grades should be cautious about focusing too much on the letter assigned to each course at the end of term. Eftekari said adding, that too much emphasis is put on making the grade and not learning the material.

“In my experience, students are not taking higher education seriously,” he said. “It is a cultural problem, and it is extremely difficult to resolve it. The main objective of higher education being learning, and how to learn by yourself is lost in the process.”

“As long as the students focus on getting a good grade, I don’t think they are going to get a quality education,” he said. “If you really learn a topic, deeply, a good grade will usually come with it.”

He also notes that a phobia of math, a lack of time management and not studying regularly are problems for students. Not taking advantage of campus resources or of professors as ways in which students could learn the material better and to achieve good grades.

“My message to all students is to take your education seriously,” Eftekari said. “Do your best; you are here for education. That should be your priority.”