Learning Objective #5: Collaborative/Interpersonal Skills Professor interview

Communication: it's what makes the world go 'round. The action of interacting with other individuals is a key tool in creating relationships and sharing experiences and stories to attain more perspective and knowledge about the world around us. In college, it is easy to form friendships with fellow students that you sit by day after day. However, what about the person behind the podium at the front of the room? One of the make or break aspects of college is the relationships we form with our professors. It is the responsibility of the individual student to build and nurture this relationship because it can be useful in getting the most out of an education. The goal of this Learning Objective is to get to know a selected professor outside of the classroom in order to get to know them and, most importantly, to build a lasting bond that will promote success academically and professionally.

Objective: to learn collaborative and interpersonal skills, including presentation skills, group learning techniques, professional interaction skills, diversity awareness, and teaching others

Part 1: The Interview

This section includes the prepared questions and the professor's personal responses. The professor that I am interviewing is currently my English 2150 professor, S.M. Cooper, who is a wonderful teacher and, as I found through this interview, a wonderfully interesting person.

(Use for reflection) Goal: to develop and use collaborative and interpersonal skills. To build relationships with professors in order to get the most out of one’s academic experience and to utilize their advice and guidance in order to be the best student one can be.

Abby : The goal of this interview is to make the most out of my academic experience and utilize every source of help in order to make myself the best student possible. One source is my personal relationship with you as a teacher. Tell me a little bit of your background. Where did you attend college and what was your major?

Cooper: I completed my undergrad at Clemson and then went on to receive my graduate at Purdue University. Purdue was much bigger than Clemson and was definitely a different experience. It made Clemson feel so small; it made me feel small. I majored in literary studies with a minor in women’s studies. My minor was apart of my thesis for graduate school and I mainly focused on theoretical principals of woman's studies.

Abby: Did you know exactly what you wanted to do or was it more of a learning-as-you-go-along process?

Cooper: I had no clue what I wanted to do. I entered as an English major and had good professors, which helped immensely. Make sure to have a good relationship with professors. They can make or break a subject for you.

Abby: Why Clemson?

Cooper: I had a scholarship, so it was free.

Abby: What leads to success in the field of English?

Cooper: Being critical of ideas, learning how to read closely and reading deep and wide. Make sure you have a large citation in regard of information; for example: not just reading one poem and thinking you know poetry.

Abby: Do you have any particular advice for anyone entering the field of English?

Cooper: Take courses based on professors. Most courses are only as strong as the professors teaching them. Hang out with professors; that will help when or if you need a recommendation. Go to as many readings as you can and interact as much as you can with those who are better than you, whether they are teachers or writers. Make sure stay in contact with them, even if it's just the small action of following them on social media.

Abby: In general, what do you think leads to success in life?

Cooper: Knowing what you want to do, having a passion for something. Do something that you would do for free.

Abby: What do you do in addition to teaching?

Cooper: I lead a feminist book club in Greenville which consists of thirty five women. We couldn't get any men to join [laughs]. I also own a CrossFit here in town. Let's see, I also write poetry.

Abby: What do you like best about your job? Don't worry there's no cameras here.

Cooper: [Laughs] I like the ability to teach lots of different things and that don’t have to use the same syllabus every semester. I like to work with students who want to work, it makes my job more fun.

Abby: What do you do for fun? Hobbies?

Cooper: Hiking. I like doing work at breweries, like grading papers and such. I like to cook.

Abby: What are the most common mistakes that students make?

Cooper: When students say "I don't have to be a good writer". Writing is about how a person thinks, more than anything else. When student's say "I don't like to write or read fluff". In order to be a good writer or even a good student, it is important to expose yourself to all types of writing, even if you don't like it. I've also noticed a common mistake is when students come here because of their families. They end up coming for the wrong reasons and not forming a connection to the university and its traditions.

Abby: How do you define learning?

Cooper: Learning a process of being and staying open to ideas. It is being challenged in your ideas but staying true to your beliefs.

Abby: What subject was most difficult for you as a college student and why?

Cooper: Math, I can't add or subtract [laughs].

Abby: [Laughs with her] What non-academic skill do you think is the most important for college students? What is the greatest non-academic skill that college students today lack?

Cooper: The most important non-academic skill I would say would be learning how to deal with life, and learning how to stay balanced, for example balancing a schedule. Learn what makes them happy. I would say that students in general lack those and have a lack in communication.

Abby: Thank you so much for your time! You were such a great help!

Cooper: No problem! I'll see you in class tomorrow!

Part 2: Reflection

I choose to interview Cooper in particular because I had just changed my major to English and I was interested in the answers that she could provide. I was eager to learn about what would make me successful in English and I wanted to hear it from someone who had been teaching it for awhile; I also wanted to interview someone who knew me personally so that I wouldn't be too shy to dive deep for answers. Through this interview, I learned so much about the person standing behind the podium; I don't think I would have ever pushed myself to get to know her if it hadn't been for this assignment. This experience has inspired me to keep up with this relationship and has taught me to form new relationships with professors because you never know what you could be missing out on. I acquired so many tips and tricks on being successful and I learned how I can apply those in my new major, which I'm excited for. Overall, I found out that professors are actually not all that bad. In fact, my English professor is actually pretty cool. While I didn't include every single comment of our discussion in the interview written above, I found that we had a bunch to talk about pertaining to her answers and the conversation flowed very well. This exhibit helped me to humanize my professor and to humanize my idea of professors in general; they aren't monsters who don't care about the face behind the letter grade. They care enormously and they have lives beyond that spot behind the podium.


Created with images by TeroVesalainen - "handshake hand give" • selassie - "friends fun nightclub" • University of Exeter - "JimW-Business School Portraits 226" • MDGovpics - "Governor is Interviewed by Gus Prager"

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