Why Your Students Are Grateful

Students submitted more than 700 Thank-A-Professor tributes this fall. The outpouring of gratitude should remind us all of the value of our work. Your students appreciate the time and care you invest in them: they thank you for helping them develop into wise, compassionate adults and knowledgeable professionals.

Submissions are still coming in, but we will send your individual letters before the winter break. In the meantime, here are some patterns we noticed in the submissions. We hope they’ll make a cheerful start to your Thanksgiving.

All of the themes we noticed last year are still prominent, but students are emphasizing additional reasons for their admiration and gratitude, so we want to share some quotes to illustrate what students extol most often:

#5—Students are grateful for classrooms where there’s space for questions, for inquiry, and for exploration. One student lauded a professor who “encourages all types of questions, and for the first time in a long time I felt comfortable asking questions… during class discussions.” Another was thankful that “You acknowledge the value in every question and are very approachable,” and yet another said, “Thank you for setting up your class activities in a way that we can learn through our failureswithout derailing our school careers.” A student was grateful that “In times of such societal tension and disagreements, Dr. G’s classroom is a safe haven to express our opinions and put a little bit of love and respect back into our world.”

#4—Students appreciate learning experiences that allow them to do the thinking. They thanked faculty for providing “problems which stimulated learning and thinking,” and “activities that pulled my mind back in after I had checked out.” Students gushed about classes that “encouraged intellectual conversation,” classes where they were prompted to “think deeper and more critically and to think beyond the classroom. I can’t thank you enough for helping to encourage me to be a critical thinker and to remain a student that is always eager to learn.”

#3— Students admired your contagious enthusiasm and energy, especially when it helped them find appeal in subjects they found intimidating. “From day one, the passion Dr. S exhibited for her subject matter transformed a daunting course into one of my absolute favorite courses to date and forever changed my perspective of the subject matter.”  Dr. K “is constantly observing his students’ learning behavior and adjusting his teaching style accordingly. He implements group work, student demonstrations, and real world applications to his course material in order to kick the monotony. I came into Dr. K’s class every day eager to learn about a subject I had little interest in.”

#2—Students are grateful for courses that “broaden their perspectives”:  variations of that sentence appeared in many submissions. One student appreciated the chance to “learn the skill of perspective taking.” Another was thankful that “Dr. B pushes you to broaden your perspectives and to think about the course topics from multiple viewpoints. His feedback helps you grow as a student and as a citizen of the world.” Dr. W was applauded “for facilitating the conversation on race in a way that is respectful of all students. You have forever changed the way we see the world.”

#1—More than anything else, students value the connections you make with them. Dr. S “was one of the first professors I had met that really made me feel seen and valuable in the classroom, which I carry with me to this day.” A student “would like to thank Professor A for seeing me very clearly and individually in a class of 70 students.” Dr. A “encourages excellence and inspires me to do well” and “is an incredibly caring and empathetic professor.” Professor L “saw talent and potential in me that I had not yet seen in myself.” Dr. B “is the type of professor that you can always count on, one that will listen, advise, support, guide, encourage, and befriend you. Dr. B greets you with a great big smile in class or when simply passing in the hall.” Over and over students expressed their gratitude for your support and encouragement. Your care and concern for them, your humanity, your investment in your students’ success, all make FSU a great place to learn.

Thank you for all you do.