Giving Thanks

Your Students are Grateful

The value of our connections and community is heightened this year, so we want to remind you how much your students appreciate all you do for them. Last fall, CAT started a Thank-A-Professor program, to help your students express their gratitude for you and the learning opportunities you create for them. Some important trends emerged from the student responses, and we hope they’ll make a cheerful start to your Thanksgiving holiday.

Here are the top five behaviors and qualities that your students value most:

#5 – Students are inspired and motivated by your love for your field. Your enthusiasm is contagious: many noted that your excitement made them want to continue learning about your subject, and many grateful students thanked a faculty member for awakening their interest in a field of study, drawing them into new pathways and careers. “My professor is passionate about what she is teaching and her knowledge of and experience with ethnographic film is vast. This course has been so influential, that I find myself constantly giving mini lectures to friends!”

#4 – Students want to rise to your high expectations. They are grateful when you challenge them to think in new ways, and about new ideas. For example, one student thanked a professor who “pushes you with great activities to stretch your mind and thought process through the course, and I have had countless ‘light bulb’ moments!!” Students perceive these intellectual challenges as respect for their potential, and they are grateful for the support and the well-scaffolded learning experiences that help them to stretch and learn.

#3 – Students appreciate authentic learning experiences, with clear real-life connections and applications. They value your professional expertise, and how you help them feel prepared for their own future careers. “My professor helped me transition from a kid that was afraid of the real world into an adult that is ready to take on the real world,” wrote a grateful student.

#2 – Students appreciate your formative feedback. Many commented on the guidance you provided on their work and their thinking, and expressed gratitude that you provided clarifications and opportunities to improve. One wrote, “You are always eager to take questions and make sure each student understands the material each day, while expressing confidence in our abilities.” Another thanked a professor who “would never move on to another topic unless we were certain that everyone understood, even in a class of nearly 500 people.”

#1—Just like last year, students mentioned caring more often than anything else. They appreciate the time you take to get to know them individually. They love feeling heard, and expressed gratitude for your willingness to listen, and to incorporate their questions and comments in discussions. They thanked you repeatedly for kindness, patience, understanding, empathy, encouragement, motivation, mentorship, and support. An especially cherished professor “always made it a point to encourage and express a caring and grateful presence for those around her. Regardless of how tough a situation presented, she made it clear that school is a learning process and that the journey would always be worth it.”

Thank you for all you do!