What Makes a Great Student?
Written by Dr. Melvin Randolph
Dr. Randolph obtained his Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) from the Graduate School of Business and Management at Argosy University, Chicago. Currently, he is an adjunct instructor for Argosy University, Chicago and several other institutions in the ‘Chicagoland’ area.
Last semester, I was teaching an economic class and I noticed that there was a student who frequently remained in the classroom after the class had ended. I approached the student and asked if he had any questions about the course material. The student told me that he had no questions. I asked the student why he stayed after class every week. The student informed me that he just wanted to be prepared for the next class. I was impressed by the student’s answer and it made me wonder what makes a great student. As I thought about it, I came up with five characteristics that I believe make a great student. Those five characteristics are: motivation, communication, good listening, self-awareness, and intelligence.
The first characteristic a good student must have is motivation. The student has to be motivated to want knowledge if they want to be successful. This is the most difficult part for a student and depending on the course subject and the professor; students may find it hard to find motivation. I always suggest to students to find something to motivate them about the subject. It is not the responsibility of the school and the teacher to provide motivation to the student. The student must find motivation that is unique to them and once that is found, they are on your way to gaining knowledge and being a great student.
Secondly, students must have great communication skills. I remember being a college student and being afraid to ask the teacher a question during class because I was afraid of looking stupid in front of the class. In hindsight, I realize that I missed out on so much information because of this choice. I quickly learned that asking questions can in fact help shape and direct the class, not just for me, but for my classmates as well. What most students do not realize is that most teachers are happy if students came to class prepared to listen to the lecture and have questions.
Next, students need to stop listening defensively. Listening defensively is problematic because students doing this only receive small amounts of the information being shared. Some people like to challenge questions and debate theories, but this method can be distracting to the student. A great student would be prepared to listen openly and actively so that they can succeed.
Students sometimes need to look at themselves and ask what type of student they are in class. Being aware of self is another key component to becoming a great student. Taking ownership and responsibility in how you receive and interpret instruction are very important internal characteristics that can shape a student learning potential. Sometimes as students we are judgmental of instructors or classmates and we allow it to change our behavior and block the opportunity to learn something from the class. I believe humbling one-self and being prepared to accept instruction is also a good plan for becoming a great student.
Intelligence is needed to be a great student, but when I say intelligence I mean intelligence in all its various forms. It can be emotional, linguistic, and/or intra-personal intelligence; all of these are assets in learning. Whichever the type a student possesses, it can be used to help the student succeed. Intelligence is especially important when it comes to thinking critically. I believe critical thinking subjects transcends across all disciplines and classrooms, so it is a very important skill to master. Also, studies have shown that students with high intelligence seem to do well with critical thinking assignments.
In closing, I believe if students were to focus on these five characteristics (motivation, communication, listening, self-awareness and intelligence) and use them as a blueprint for their educational journey as a student, they will definitely be on their way to becoming a great student.