Senani Mamba ’12

Major: Biology


Q: Do you feel that CC allows students to speak freely during classes and to voice their opinions?

A: I think it depends on the professor, because I have had classes where I couldn’t question the professor’s point of view. The professors point of view just had to be the point of view that we were all supposed to take; it’s the stance from which we are all going to look at the situations. And in a way, that could be okay, but I don’t think it is because we all don’t think in the same way.

I feel that the way we respond to situations is based on where we grow up and how we are taught to think about certain things

But some professors are okay with you challenging their views, and I have found that science professors are more open to you challenging their view on how something should be done, compared to humanities professors.

Ryan Loeffler ’12

Major: English, film studies track

Austin, Texas

Q: Does CC encourage open inquiry in the classroom?

A: I feel that it does, although there are certain professors who hold their opinions quit high.

Q: In humanities or sciences?

A: I am significantly more versed in the humanities classes here at CC. I have only taken one science class. Was open inquiry invited? Sure, but it was pretty factual so there wasn’t much questioning going on.

Q: And in the humanities?

A: Yeah, I am personally [comfortable]; I don’t know if all the students are. I think that there are certainly students who have trouble breaking out of their comfort zones and don’t necessarily thrive as well in that situation, in that environment. But I think that for the majority of CC students that I sit in the classroom with, I think people feel pretty comfortable arguing with each other and with their professors.  And as though, even if their opinion is challenged, that they are not going to be looked down upon or overshadowed in any way.

Q: Even by the faculty?

A: Yeah, especially by the faculty. Even though a professor very adamantly disagreed with me, I never felt as though he thought my opinion was dumb.

Ben Felson ’11

Major: Anthropology

Hartford, Connecticut

Q: Does CC encourage open inquiry in the classroom?

A: I think CC does, but that it depends on the professor and the students in the classroom. It is on a case-by-case basis how freely students feel they can express themselves. I think some professors are really good at just promoting inquiry and will play devil’s advocate, and really get students to think and not shy away from more sensitive topics like race and class. Gender, I think, is probably more talked about but even still, when you have a classroom full of students, if you have 15 girls and one guy in a feminist and gender studies class, the guy probably won’t feel that free expressing himself. People like to say CC is pretty diverse and in a lot of ways it is intellectually, but in terms of race, some students can feel left out or find themselves having to speak for a whole race of people, or a whole ethnic group. Professors are sort of better at dealing with it but I think it’s kind of on that case-by-case basis.  But I think overall, as far as the mission statement goes for CC, I think it really tries to promote it. It’s just up to the faculty really to pursue it and execute it.

Q: What can CC faculty do to encourage more open inquiry?

A: I think what might be easier to answer is what doesn’t really help. I’ve talked to some professors about this. What doesn’t help is the hiring of specialists to teach a seminar for a bunch of faculty that grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, telling them they don’t get it and trying to teach them how to teach again and what to do in their classrooms. For a lot of professors, it doesn’t do much; a weekend seminar. That’s been tried a lot I think, and teachers come out without any better understanding of how to deal with students.

I think maybe the real challenge is understanding the CC student body and understanding where people are coming from. I think now we’re getting a shift; it’s always been a mix of private prep schools and public schools from all over the country. But I think there has been a shift now towards more prep-school educated students that are kind of more isolated on a campus. I think having professors understand that this is the student body that they are dealing with and learning how to deal with not just where they are coming from, but also how they learn.  CC students like to play a lot, and yeah they are interested in what they are learning but having professors understanding how to really drive concepts home to them personally, is probably pretty big.

Madison Moross

Year: 2010

Major: Dance, Education Minor

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Q: What can CC faculty do to encourage more open inquiry?

A: It varies through the faculty, it would be unfair to generalize. I think that some of the faculty is really open and others are less so. I think that, maybe waiting to express their viewpoint until later on in a class might really help.  Because then you don’t have students catering their opinion in papers to what their professors want. But I think they definitely are professors at CC that are really bad at this; ones that kind of grade toward their personal opinion, and that is really limiting. But I think on a larger scale, it’s definitely not a major problem.