Frank Vattano, a professor of psychology, began teaching 42 years ago, about the time parents of some CSU students were finishing college.
Vattano began his career at Ohio State University in 1960. At that time, overhead projectors and 35 millimeter slides were used to teach students.
“I had to make my own slides,” Vattano said. He would take his camera and take pictures out of library books to create them. At that time, all Vattano needed to teach class was a textbook, chalk, an eraser and an overhead. He drew pictures on the board.
Vattano read the textbook, made a few notes, and put a few things on the board. “Preparing for lectures was mundane,” he says.
Now Vattano arrives at 7:30 a.m. to prepare for his 9:30 a.m. class so he can orchestrate a “palatable” PowerPoint presentation and post lecture notes on the Internet. Desktop computers and laptops make it easy for him to create a stimulating presentation for psychology class and help students find resources online.
Andrea Mink, a freshman pre-veterinary medicine and biology major, has many PowerPoint-oriented classes and can download lecture notes off the Internet.
She feels that PowerPoint is a good teaching method because “For people who learn visually, it is a lot more stimulating than just having words on the board. PowerPoint is easy for me because it is a summary,” Mink said. “PowerPoint gives a basis and lets you know where you are. It makes it easier to catch up if the professor goes fast.”
Mink said she is glad that professors at CSU utilize PowerPoint in their classroom.
Dr. Vattano feels that the new technology used in classrooms “can expose students to more but how it is utilized is critical. Many students think they can get on the Web, download notes and not go to class,” said Vattano. “There is no substitute for a teacher.”
Hilary Holland, a University of New Mexico graduate and mother of a current CSU student, attended college in the 1970’s.
“Class was not always that exciting. PowerPoint, in my opinion, would be better than watching someone talk for an hour and write on the board. Also, if you missed a class, you had to get notes from someone else. You couldn’t log onto the Internet and find the lecture. I think having the notes posted online takes some of the stress off students.”
Dr. Kenneth Barbarick, professor and university distinguished teaching scholar, utilizes technology in his classroom.
Barbarick has been teaching for 32 years. He began teaching with overheads, slides, chalkboards, and audio tutorials. The first few times he taught, it took him two to three hours to prepare for class but as he became more familiar with the materials, the time to prepare was reduced. It takes the same amount of time for Barbarick to prepare class now as it did 32 years ago
“I still use slides and the overhead,” Barbarick said of his current teaching tools. “In the lab I use the Internet and PowerPoint type programs. PowerPoint seems easier because it’s more fun. There isn’t much difference in the difficulty between older and newer methods of teaching.”
Becky Wiskirchen, a freshman zoology and psychology major, finds PowerPoint extremely useful. In high school her teachers didn’t teach with PowerPoint. Transitioning to college teaching methods was not hard for her.
“Being a visual person, I find it helpful as an aide to the professor’s lecture,” she said. “I think it keeps the professor more organized and it keeps the professor from sidetracking. It is easier to stay awake.”
Barbarick feels the newer technology is beneficial to students if professors use a combination of teaching methods.
Just as Vattano believes that one-on-one contact with a professor is essential for students, Barbarick feels that the message and delivery by the instructor is the most important tool in teaching.
“You can be a good professor with chalk,” Barbarick said.