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What is a Professor at a Research University?

Dr. Philipp Kraemer, Chellgren Chair for Undergraduate Excellence and Professor of Psychology‚ University of Kentucky

Educators like to emphasize the continuous nature of formal education; it begins before kindergarten and extends through college and sometimes beyond. Although there is value in seeing education as a continuous process‚ it is also clear that there are some key points along the continuum where students experience profound changes that are unlike anything that has come before. None of these instances is more dramatic than the transition from high school into college‚ especially for students enrolled at large research universities.

Of the many changes students confront‚ one of the most dramatic is the difference between high school teachers and university professors. Understanding how professors differ from high school teachers and knowing what makes professors tick can be a great asset to the success of a first-year student.

To understand more about professors‚ it is first necessary to understand the nature of a research university. There are nearly 4‚000 American colleges and universities. Of those‚ fewer than 160 are classified as Research Extensive Universities. These universities offer a wide range of baccalaureate degrees and confer 50 or more doctoral degrees across at least 15 different disciplines each year. In addition‚ each of these universities has an explicit mission‚ usually mandated by state government‚ to advance research and creativity through the work of professors. Everything from the curriculum to facilities and institutional organization reflects this mission‚ and so too do the responsibilities of university professors. Continued . . .

Academic Success hinges on preparation

Timothy Kroboth, Political Science and Economics Junior
Article used by permission from Kentucky Kernal.

Remember December? Finals Week certainly was fun, wasn't it?

Do you recall anything from that all-nighter you pulled to study for your geology final exam? Or was it gerontology? How could you have discerned the difference with so much Starbucks coffee running through your veins anyway?

Cramming a semester's worth of course material in one night is as impractical as it is painful, particularly if you wish to retain and apply the course material after taking the final exam. After paying the university thousands of dollars for your education last semester, was it really worth the cost if you forgot everything soon after handing your exam to the professor and exiting the classroom? Continued . . .

Despite class size, UK education still personal

Timothy Kroboth, Political Science and Economics Junior
Article used by permission from Kentucky Kernal

"I want to hear someone else," the professor boomed. "This is not the University of South Carolina, where I need binoculars to see everyone in a class of 300 students."

This fall, as a Winthrop University student studying at UK through the National Student Exchange program, I came to Lexington with questions. Would I have opportunities to participate in class discussions, or would huge, auditorium-filling classes hinder student-professor interaction? Would my UK professors even learn my name? Continued . . .