Posted August 14, 2014 by Bob Rodda 

Take A Class

On my bucket list upon my retirement was to rebuild my German language skills. I studied in Germany after college but felt my language skills had gotten rusty over the years. So, I set off to audit a German class. Now after three German classes, my German is respectable. More importantly, I discovered some wonderful benefits from auditing. Professor

Model Life-Long Learning
We talk constantly about being role models in our work. What if we extended our role modeling into the classroom? Colleges and universities espouse that an undergraduate education is just a step in life-long learning. Participating in a class to bolster one’s own learning walks the talk of that principle. Even a couple of faculty members have mentioned what a good example I was for students. Also, I have been surprised at how often my life experiences and knowledge have allowed me to bring another perspective into class discussion.

Different Relationships with Students You Know
When sitting together in a class, you are no longer the advisor or supervisor of students you know. You become peers in seeking knowledge and understanding. You see how each other work in another setting that adds an additional dimension to your relationship.

Relationships with Other Students
You can become acquainted with a handful of students whom you do not know. I have been fascinated to listen to their (new to me) perspectives about the campus including the union and student activities. Comments have been both supportive and critical. In addition, in getting acquainted with them, I have learned what they value and what bugs them. As a result, I have a more complete insight into the student experience.

Gain Insight into the Academic Experience
Auditing gets you involved in the academic enterprise. I have learned about faculty expectations in class and seen what they do to aid student learning. I have an experiential sense of what students mean when they talk about work-load. Conversely, I gained a sense of the quality of student performance. While I didn’t write the papers or take the exams (most of the time), listening to student presentations, participating in class discussion and conversing about homework assignments (I did do the homework) engaged me in the high quality work they do.

Relationships with Faculty
When you become a guest in a faculty member’s class, your relationship with the faculty member is enhanced. Your presence says that you value the instructor and the material that she/he teaches. Just like with students, your relationship broadens. I have been asked for my perspective on an issue, to help organize a field trip, and for information about how to schedule a room. Were I still working, I feel confident that my experience with the faculty members in the classroom has fostered relationships that would make it easier for me to enlist their help in my work (think: strategic planning, committees, programs, etc.).

One valuable tip that I heard before I ever audited classes was to pick a faculty member not a content area. Outstanding faculty members can make any content area come to life.

For me, auditing has been very rewarding. Beyond the benefits described above, I’ve improved my German, enhanced my understanding of my Amish neighbors, learned a bit about jazz, and performed on stage! Were I still supervising staff, I would do everything I could (even adjusting work responsibilities) to facilitate their auditing a class regularly.

What are you doing for your professional development? In what ways do you gather the benefits above? Have you thought about auditing a class? Is there a faculty member whose class you would love to take?

Bob Rodda

Bob Rodda is the Retired at College of Wooster.

HIs primary areas of service were with the Small School Community of Practice and as the liaison to the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS).


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