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It’s that time of the semester again when Jan, an assistant professor of biology in her second year of teaching, reads her student feedback from courses she just taught. As usual, the ratings are OK but not what she wishes students felt about her and her classes. Last semester, her chair suggested that she needed to work on “getting more connected” to students as there have been frequent comments like, “uninterested in me as a student” and “doesn’t care,” and grades in the courses she teaches are a little lower than they had been in previous years. 

Those comments, and others like them, hit her hard. She does care she insisted to her chair and is really unsure why some students think of her that way. There are always a few students who seem to connect with her. They even come by her office from time to time to chat. But she knows most students do not respond to her that way. She’s been called “stern” before, but she dismissed that label as a complaint from students who do not appreciate her high expectations of them.

“Teaching is not a popularity contest” she recalls one of her graduate school mentors telling her...read more

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