Teaching Techniques: Why Having A Ph.D. Doesn’t Make You A Good Teacher


Written by Amanda Longhenry

Most university students have experienced at least one terrible professor in their academic career. The unfortunate reality is that many students have encountered professors who lack the ability to effectively educate, engage, or provide the guidance and support needed for optimal learning. While holding a Ph.D. may signify an impressive depth of knowledge in a particular field, it does not automatically guarantee that a professor possesses the necessary skills to effectively convey that knowledge to students. In fact, some PhD holders may be more focused on their own research and publications than on their students’ learning and development.

How Professors Are Lacking

It is not uncommon for universities to hire professors based primarily on their research expertise and accomplishments. In fact, hiring individuals with impressive research achievements is important to garner attention and increase its reputation. Of course, universities are businesses that depend on their renown to promote their programs to prospective students. However, R1 universities - universities that receive lots of funding for their research - may sometimes employ professors that have little to no teaching experience, leaving students to self-study more.

Some Teaching Tips

Avoid Vague Words 

Demonstrative pronouns, such as “this”, “that”, or “those,” are commonly used to replace nouns but can become problematic in education settings due to their inherent ambiguity and potential for confusion. Many professors have been studying their specific subject for years or even decades. Therefore, contextually, professors understand what they are referring to when they use demonstrative pronouns. However, this may leave students confused, especially since this subject may be new to them. 

Repeat The Question Before Answering It

Lecture halls can be huge to accommodate the large number of students. Hence, when students ask a question, other students may or may not have heard their question. This is why, as a professor, it is important to repeat the question to the entire class so that it can become a learning experience for all students, rather than just the one that asked it.

Draw What You Are Saying

Drawing visuals for students is important because it helps them understand other subjects much more clearly. Studies have shown that roughly 65% of people are visual learners hence why visuals - diagrams, charts, and illustrations - can help students better understand complex concepts. Specifically, visuals can ground the complex theory and can make the content more tangible for students, allowing students to grasp and retain information more effectively.


Teaching is a profession that offers countless opportunities for fun and enjoyment. Teachers get to interact with their students, to create engaging and meaningful lessons, and to witness their growth and progress. However, teaching is often misperceived as an easy profession despite the nuances and challenges within it. Thankfully, there are many resources on how to become an inspirational teacher. If you are interested in teaching, you can try it out on the TUEX app and build your experience!