Number. 1 © CDTL 2000
Grading Your Teacher
Professor K.P. Mohanan
Deputy Director, CDTL


Many people might say that a good teacher is one who knows a great deal, explains concepts very well, gives interesting lectures, has a great deal of personal charisma, and so on. Implicit in such answers is the idea that teaching is lecturing.

If teaching is lecturing, a good teacher should (a) have a thorough grasp of the knowledge content of the discipline, and (b) be able to communicate the knowledge content in a clear, simple and interesting manner. But is that all it takes to be a good teacher? Most educationists would say no.

Facilitating Learning

What if we begin by saying: “Teaching is facilitating learning”?

We should then ask if a teacher helps students learn

  • the knowledge content of the discipline;
  • the ability to acquire knowledge from available books and articles;
  • the ability to critically evaluate what is presented to us as knowledge;
  • the ability to apply our knowledge to novel situations; and
  • the ability to produce knowledge when the relevant knowledge is not documented in the literature.

We should also ask if the teacher

  • responds to questions from students;
  • encourages students to ask questions;
  • asks questions and responds to the answers; and
  • invites challenges, disagreements, objections, and criticisms.

Finally, we should ask if the teacher has triggered students’ intellectual curiosity, made them more open-minded, and made learning exciting and pleasurable. A good teacher empowers students to learn on their own.

Some teachers are exceptional in their ability to enhance critical thinking, others are exceptional for communicating complex ideas in clear and simple ways, and yet others are exceptional in making learning a joy. No one is likely to possess all the desirable qualities listed above. But the greater the number of the desirable qualities and the greater the strength of each of them, the better the quality of teaching.

A Statement to Reflect On

The best teachers are those who make themselves redundant as quickly as possible, empowering students to learn on their own.


Further Reading
Pan, D. (1999). ‘Assessing Your Teachers’. The Effective Student: A Guide to Higher Education at NUS (6th ed.). Singapore: Centre for Development Of Teaching & Learning (National University of Singapore), 15–17.


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