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The Four C's Of An Effective College Teacher

Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning

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The posting below offers some familiar, yet not-to-be-forgotten,

insights on what is important about our roles as college and

university teachers. It is from Teachers College Record, 6/7/00 Copyright 2000 Teachers College, Columbia

University. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.


Rick Reis


The Flexibility Factor:What Professors Really Think of Tenure

Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning


---------------- 862 words ---------------



By:Lamont Flowers


"A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a

desire to learn is hammering on cold iron." -Horace Mann

Currently, there are many problems and issues involving faculty roles and

functions that are being discussed on a national level. College

teaching represents only one of those issues. However, I believe that

it is one of importance. In my view, collegiate teaching should seek

to empower the intended beneficiaries with a craving for knowledge. As such, college

teachers should attempt to integrate three fundamental practices into their

teaching repertoire:

1) encourage students to understand that their

viewpoints are important;

2) enable students to realize that they can

transform their environment when they learn how to critique policies

or practices; and

3) instruct students to analyze qualitative and

quantitative data to propose intelligent conclusions and

recommendations based on appropriate decision-making models. To be

sure, an effective college teacher is one who embodies distinctive

traits and attributes. I have termed these traits of an effective

teacher the Four C's of an Effective College Teacher. The Four C's of

an Effective College Teacher include being concerned, committed,

creative, and competent.


The concerned college teacher wants to teach every student that walks into

his or her classroom. The concerned college teacher understands that the

learning environment should be a safe haven in which students can seriously

analyze and construct conceptualizations and ideas. In addition, the

concerned college teacher has the capacity to expect the best from all

students. A positive consequence of the previous assertion is that students,

who feel this attitude emanating from the college teacher, can learn

valuable lessons about individual responsibility, self worth, and

persistence. Finally, the concerned college teacher operates on a

zero-reject system in which every student is value despite situations,

circumstances, or scenarios that create student diversity.


Committed college teachers are the first ones to arrive and the last ones to

leave; yet they rarely complain. Being a committed college teacher signifies

that you are persistent in reaching your curricular goals and objectives in

a way that increases student understanding of relevant, useful, as well as

theoretical content. Committed college teachers are committed to every

student because they are committed to the ideals and principles of

democratic participation.


Cultivating creativity in higher education is critical because the very

nature of a college education is to broaden horizons, to promote invention,

and to sustain intellectual inquisitiveness. As a result, the development

of creative thought is essential because as students learn to explore their

world and stretch their minds, they are in a better position to learn about

differences, evaluate problematic situations, and create solutions. Creative

teachers are also interested in their discipline and enthusiastic about

presenting information to students in exciting ways. Hence, a creative

college teacher models behaviors that reflect creative thought. In time, his

or her students learn to discover, produce, and maintain a state of

intellectual ebullience by which learning is enhanced.


It is commonly known that students learn best when they actively and

practically participate in the earning process. As such, the

competent teacher never stops learning; he or she constantly reads

and conducts research. In doing so, a competent teacher constantly

develops his or her ability to teach students about the practical

implications of the subject matter. Also, a competent college teacher

trains his or her students to demonstrate relevant skills and

abilities so that students can learn how the subject matter relates

to them and how they can use what they are learning in and out of the

classroom. A competent college teacher realizes that his or her ideas

and values are important but also asks his or her students to

recognize and analyze competing ideas and values. In addition, the

competent college teacher knows that the textbook and statistical

data are important sources of information but also demands that

students learn about and become familiar with various sources of data

to answer questions and improve learning. Moreover, the competent

college teacher demonstrates knowledge of effective learning

practices such as cooperative learning. Furthermore, competent

college teachers participate in workshops,

seminars, and conferences that allow them to learn new ways to solve old



This commentary on exceptional college teaching is by no means exhaustive.

Clearly, there are many variables and factors involved in effective

college teaching. However, the topics discussed in this article can

be used as a starting point for the experienced or novice college

teacher looking for a concise framework to describe effective college

teaching. It is my hope that this framework could be used as an

instructional model in classes that focus on college teaching. In

this light, these Four C's of an Effective College Teacher can be

used as a basis for educating prospective postsecondary educators.

Furthermore, all lessons and activities used in such classes could be

develope along the lines suggested here in a way that would encourage

college educators to organize their instructional activities,

professional development activities, and lifelong learning activities

around the Four C's of an Effective College Teacher.

Citation Information:

Teachers College Record Date

Published: 6/7/00

ID Number: 10530, Date Accessed: 6/8/00

Copyright 2000 Teachers College, Columbia

University. All rights reserved.