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  • Erica Patton

UMSL's Favorite Classes

By: Erica Patton



Credit: UMSL Daily


As many students are on the route to fulfilling their degree pathways, it is common to have to take classes that are not necessarily your cup of tea. For a lot of us, this may be subjects like math, literature, or even those 3-hour-required labs that are unconventionally at 6 p.m., or even those 8 a.m. lecture halls with barely any seats. However, we all know that feeling of excitement and relief when we finally get to take classes that suit our interests.


There are many benefits for students who get to take classes that they enjoy. The journal article, “Professor’s Role in Motivating Students to Attend Class,” explains how motivation is a make or break for the success of students. When defining motivation, it is considered the act of exciting the mind of the student. Many aspects such as interest and enthusiasm toward learning were the most important aspects of motivation, (Brewer & Burgess, 2005). When students are interested in the course material, it makes sense that students will be more engaged in class, which may lead them to higher success rates in the course, and even higher attendance rates.


After speaking with various UMSL students, I got a grasp of which courses people love, why they’re taking them, and even why they think they’re important. Here are just of few:


While many students appreciated the learning aspect of classes, some explained how they enjoyed the social aspects. Music major, Rachel Anthonis, states that “My favorite class is choir, the University’s Singer's class. Choir is my favorite class because it’s really fun and a great way to make new friends. I’ve always loved singing because it's my major, but there are a lot of people in Choir who aren’t music majors who just come because they love to sing.” For Rachel, the love for music motivates her to engage in the class, but the friends and people who she met along the way are just as important. If you love music and a sense of community at UMSL, joining a class like University Singers may be the perfect fit for you. 


Some students were, even more, looking forward to classes they just started this semester, rather than classes they have had in the past. Often, certain instructors make these courses worthwhile. Howie Parks, a philosophy major, exemplified his excitement for his Medieval Philosophy class with Professor Jon McGinnis. “He’s a nice and awesome professor, and I am very excited about the material,” Parks said.


It is common for students to have a favorite instructor or an instructor that makes them feel connected and valued in the course material. Professor David Lange of the Communication and Media Department explained that student motivation can occur when instructors apply theory to show that courses are significant after college. “Perhaps the most important factor in instructors' relationships with students as motivators to take a course is the instructor making the course as real-world as possible. Teaching theory is one thing; it's quite another to demonstrate how those theories have been applied in actual cases. The next step is to empower students to analyze whether or not those cases applied theories effectively” said Lange. While students may have their own interests at heart, a professor can have a crucial impact on this motivation.



Photo by Erica Patton


Though I interviewed a handful of students who enjoy the material covered in their favorite courses, they all expressed their interest differently than Cory Simmons, a Music Business major. Simmons said “I just started coming to UMSL this semester so I’ve only had a couple of classes, but so far my favorite class is MHLT 1150, Drumming Cultures of the World, it’s really interesting stuff. I think it is really cool to learn about the indigenous tribes around the world and how they had no exposure to any other kind of music and created their own thing. It is for so much more than enjoyment: It’s rooted in tradition.” Many students like Simmons, find that the projected material for a course catches our attention from the start. When the course aligns with your major, there may be more motivation for a student to give their all in the class.


While many students found the content of courses interesting, some of them found the content especially valuable and thought that it was vital for students to take. When interviewing UMSL student, Hannah Reichert, she said that her favorite class that she has taken at UMSL was an honors course called The Politics of Hate, Difference and Injustice. “It really dives into social injustice. It’s not just that the class was interesting, but it confronted opinions and personal outlooks. It made you evaluate your stances and helped you open your eyes to become a better person and not fall into ignorance. It’s a good class to take because it allows you to get to know yourself and where you come from even when it is uncomfortable” said Reichert. While UMSL offers many courses in social sciences, Reichart emphasizes the importance of taking courses that challenge your biases, broaden your perspectives, and allow open discussion about important topics in society. In doing so, students can gain exposure to different standpoints, grow as civilians, and even gain the tools to handle these issues.


While you can browse many of these different courses on UMSL’s website, you can get an inside look into them from your fellow students on campus.


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