Top Five Myths About Teaching at the University Level

Myth: By the age students typically reach the university, their brains are fully developed.

Reality and Resource: Brain development actually occurs throughout a lifetime. Significant changes in the frontal lobe, where much organization, judgment and critical thinking is located, occur well into the mid-20s.

Teenage Brain: A work in progress. National Institute of Mental Health.

Myth: Students can easily spend most of their time learning and studying.
Reality and Resource: In 2005 the National Center for Educational Statistics revealed that 50% of full-time college students worked at least part-time, and that 10% of these individuals worked 35 hours or more.

Employment of College Students. Institute of Educational Sciences.

Myth: The higher the grades a professor awards, the higher the student marks in teaching evaluations.
Reality and Resource: Students are more likely to give high marks to professors that are rigorous and have clear and high standards of learning.

Marsh, H. W. (1987) Student Evaluations of University Teaching: Research findings, methodological issues, and directions for the future. Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press.

Myth: Professors who get high marks in student evaluations are not necessarily doing a good job teaching.
Reality and Resource: Students who rank professors favorably are more likely to take advanced courses and major in the subject that the instructor taught.

Halonen, Jane and Ellenberg, George. "Teaching Evaluation Follies: Misperception and Misbehavior in Students' Evaluations of Teachers." Evaluating Faculty Performance: A Practical Guide to Assessing Teaching, Research, and Service. Ed. Peter Seldin. Boston, MA: Anker Publishing, 2006. 150-165.
Hobson, Suzanne and Talbot, Donna. "Understanding Student Evaluations." College Teaching 49.1 (2001): 26-32.
Sullivan, A. M. and Skanes, G. R. (1974) Validity in student evaluation of teaching and the characteristics of successful instructors. Journal of Educational Psychology. 66 (4) 584-590. Wilson, Robin. "New Research Casts Doubts on Value of Student Evaluation of Professors." The Chronicle of Higher Education 44.19 (1998): A12-A14.

Myth: At the college level, individual learning preferences and styles do not matter; students will learn if the professors know their stuff!
Reality and Resource: The ability to engage the students and to instruct and assess in multiple modalities stimulates student interest and motivation; student success is linked to faculty sensitivity to learning styles.

Sumerson, Joanne Broder and Farley, Frank H. Predictors of college student achievement. Academic Exchange Quarterly. June 22, 2007.