Skip to main content
Indiana University Bloomington

YouTube Twitter Facebook

Know Your Students

It is crucial that international associate instructors have the language skills to communicate effectively in English; however, to be an effective teacher, it is also important to know the educational and cultural background of your students and their ideas and expecations about good teaching. The best way to learn about your students is to talk to them personally. In the paragraphs below you will find very general information about the liberal arts education and about the students you will encounter in the classroom.

Academic Background
Perhaps the most unique feature of higher education in the United States is that it is shaped by the concept of the liberal arts education. The College of Arts and Sciences Academic Bulletin describes its mission as providing "an education that broadens the student’s awareness in the major areas of human knoweldge, significantly deepens that awareness in one or two fields and prepares the foundation for a lifetime of continual learning."

This educational philosophy has a direct impact in the undergraduate classroom. Whether undergraduates major in chemistry, history, or Italian, they are required to enroll in a number of courses outside their areas of interest. Thus, if you teach a lower level physics lab, the majority of your students are probably not planning to major in physics.

Similarly, if you conduct an introductory philosophy discussion session, a large number of your students will not be majoring in philosophy. Depending on their major and motivation for taking the class, your students might have varying degrees of interest in and aptitude for the class. In preparing your classes, it is important to think about how differences in academic background can impact how you prepare your classes and how you interact with your students. It might be helpful to ask experienced associate instructors about strategies they use to accommodate the different needs of their students.

Geographic Background
IU students come from all over the world and all over the USA; however, the majority of the students (60%) are from the state of Indiana. Some are from urban areas like Indianapolis and Gary, while others are from small rural communities. Since IU is a state university, students from Indiana pay reduced tuition to study here because their families already pay taxes to this state. International students and students from other states pay significantly more. See where IU students come from.

Socio-economic Background
IU students are the children of bank executives, factory workers, farmers, and almost any other profession and job you can think of. Some are the first-generation children of immigrants from Mexico, Poland, Burma, or other places in the world. Others are the children of families who have been in the USA for centuries. Because of the availability of scholarships and loans, work-study programs, and jobs in the community, most families have access to higher education provided students have the grade point average (GPA) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores required to gain admission. The SAT is the undergraduate version of the GRE. The highest possible score is 800 in verbal, 800 in math and 800 in writing. Recently a writing section has been added as well.

Overview of IU incoming undergraduates