Frequent misconceptions about lecturers

When we are in tertiary education, things work very differently. Some people get shocked on how things really change from school to college/university, especially about lecturers. When we were in school, we were used to be cared from teachers so much, but here, they couldn’t care less. What I have here is not my own personal thoughts, but the credit goes to a fellow forummer in for his very hardwork.


MISCONCEPTION 1: Lecturers are a more advanced version of teachers – since they are also “teaching”, but in higher education

A: it sounds true, but it’s technically wrong. Lecturers are not teachers, although they are in the educator family. Lecturers are not trained to teach, they don’t hold a diploma or certificate of teaching, and neither do they have any expertise in educating others. Teachers do, hence their expertise in making others understand what they say, which is part of their oath as a teacher. Lecturers go through no such thing.

Lecturers LECTURE what their knowledge and expertise. They don’t TEACH their knowledge and expertise. Meaning, when they lecture, it’s the students’ responsibility to understand what they say. For a teacher, it’s the teacher’s responsibility to make sure the students understand. See the difference?

 MISCONCEPTION 2: Lecturers are required to teach – pretty obvious, isn’t it? 

A: a common misconception, but as elaborated above, lecturers are not required to teach. But they are required to SHARE their knowledge and expertise. And teaching is only ONE of the ways to share it. We often hear students complain about lecturers who can’t teach or couldn’t teach properly. Actual fact is, the students more often fail to learn from them. Remember, it’s not their job to make students understand. The students should make an effort to try to understand what they say, and seek further help in case they still don’t understand the issues.

 MISCONCEPTION 3: Good academicians are those who can lecture well – students understand better, get better grades, hence better rapport with the lecturers 

A: fair enough, but that’s not the sole definition of a good academicians. Mohe (ministry of higher education) have outlined 7 Ps that makes a good academician: penyelidikan (research), penerbitan (publication), pengajaran (teaching), perkhidmatan awam (public service), perundingan (consultancy), penulisan (writing) and pengurusan (management).Although it will be hard for a single person to be able to achieve all 7 Ps listed above, most IPT allow their academic staff to concentrate in 3 or 4 of them. This would mean that an academic who’re good in research, writing, publication and consultancy (the standard of what experts do), they usually don’t concentrate much on teaching.

 MICONCEPTION 4: Lecturers are the primary source of learning in higher education – as the primary “teaching staff” that is similar to the secondary and primary schools, students see the lecturers as the primary or sometimes the sole source of learning 

A: this misconception is understandable, knowing where the students came from. In school, teachers are the primary source of learning. They possess the knowledge and the ability to pass on the knowledge. The final say would also be in the hand of the teachers. This is what is commonly known as teacher-centered learning.In higher education, it is up to the students to involve themselves in the learning activities. They are placed in an environment where they could access as vast amount of resources: experts, books, publications, research, library, the internet as well as their peers. Being in the center of everything should allow a student to choose whichever way suitable for them to learn. This is known as student-centered learning.

Simply put, the lecturers (experts) are only one of the resources accessible for the students, and shouldn’t be treated as the ONLY absolute source.

 MISCONCEPTION 5: Lecturers are answerable to the students because the students pay the lecturers’ salary – technically it is true that the students pay the lecturers’ salary especially in IPTS 

A: although it is true, the lecturers are not answerable solely to the students. Lecturers are bound to the policies of the institution, which means that the students don’t really have a direct effect to their professional well-beings. For example, the students may deem the lecturer as kedekut markah, but if he actually follows the standard, there’s nothing the students can do about it.But lecturers are still answerable to the top management of the institution. This would be the best people the students can look for if they need to complain.

 MISCONCEPTION 6: Lecturers must GIVE ANSWER to the question asked – Since they are lecturers, they should give DIRECT answers to the questions asked. 

A: From the POV of students, it looks true enough but DIRECT answers may NOT necessary help the students. Sometimes, DIRECT answers may bring more harm than good to students. Also, some lecturers prefer having students to do their own research in order to widen their knowledge on that field, not merely an answer for the question asked.However, a lecturer MUST give CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS to ensure students understand what is expected by the lecturer. This includes providing ways to get the answer for the question rather than literally the answer itself.

 MISCONCEPTION 7: Lecturer is always right – since they’re the expert, whatever than comes out of his/her mouth would be a fact 

A: You couldn’t be more wrong. Lecturers are only human. With the amount of knowledge that they have, with a little added ego, he or she might feel that they are the center of the universe. This is where students MUST tread carefully. My personal default standing is: the lecturer is right unless proven otherwise.It means, the lecturers themselves must have an open standing of knowledge. 200 years ago the world was flat (or perceived that way) and the sun revolves around the earth. If the same lecturer were to be alive today, he must be open enough to accept if the students prove that the world is spherical and the earth revolves around the sun.

MISCONCEPTION 8: Lecturer who has been wrong before is a bad lecturer – Lecturer should be ALWAYS right. Once proven wrong, a lecturer is worthless and should be punished. 

A: I have seen numerous times lecturers lost students’ respect and attention for their subjects because of some particular incidents when lecturers made mistakes. Some of them even go further complaining it to the management. Well, not that I want to protect EVERY lecturers, but I believe everyone deserves second chance (or more). I would like to suggest that students to co-operate with lecturers to make the lecture/tutorial a win-win session. Making a problem worse will not benefit anyone.Not only that lecturer is a human and may not know-it-all, it’s also due to the ever-changing world we are having now, new researches/theories appear everyday.

 MISCONCEPTION 9: Students are the lecturers’ clients – similar to the one discussed earlier, since the students pay a huge amount of fees, it’ logically deduced that they are paying for the lecturer’s services. 

A: although it may seem that way, lecturers share their knowledge for a bigger/higher purpose. All lecturers belong to a specific field of study. They are often professionally qualified to practice in their field, but chose to educate. They have a bigger objective than just to serve the students’ need: to provide their field of practice good enough students to carry on their legacy.It literally means, the benefit of the practice outweighs the personal benefits of individual students. This takes priority over the students, and the lecturers would be more than willing to fail the entire class of students rather than let low quality students pass and eventually join practice.