Three Grove City College professors share how they spark joy in their students’ stressful lives with their own unique ‘traditions.’ Across the board, each professor demonstrates that he truly cares about his students.
Dr. Fuller’s Tennis Match
For instance, Economics professor Dr. Fuller offers a chance for a small amount of extra credit to any student who can beat him in a tennis match. Fuller began this tradition during his first semester teaching at the College in Fall 2017. Since then, he has given the opportunity in all his classes every semester.
When asked why he started this tradition, Fuller explains that he is passionate about tennis, having played for all four years that he attended Grove City. Beyond that, though, Fuller emphasizes that the main goal isn’t to give extra credit points, but rather to form connections outside of the classroom with students and get to know them better.
“It’s really a ‘touchpoint’ for students, so I can seem more like a ‘human’ to them with real human interests,” Fuller says.
According to Fuller, two to three students per semester typically challenge him to a match, but only one student—former GCC tennis player and Man of the Year Karsten Lagerquist—has beaten him. Still, the opportunity has served to generate conversations between Fuller and his students, “which is really the goal,” Fuller notes.
Dr. Horton’s Cow Answers
Additionally, psychology professor Dr. Horton incorporates cow-related answers into his multiple-choice exams. He tells his students that the “cow answers” are never correct, so he narrows down the options and provides comedic relief as students take the exam.
“Why should exam day be dull and boring and dry?” Horton says. He wants to “liven up” exams and give students something to chuckle at rather than stress about.
Horton has been including cows on his exams for “at least 15 years,” ever since his daughter formed an intense interest in cows when she was little. At first, he incorporated cow-related answers for fun, but his students enjoyed them and asked for more.
Since then, his students have leaned into the “cow” idea in Horton’s classes. If students show a deep enough passion for cows, they can receive the “Cow Appreciation Award.” Only three students have ever won the award, including one young man who wore a cow costume to every exam.
Dr. McIntyre’s Pig Stamps
Finally, mathematics professor Dr. McIntyre has been awarding “pig stamps” to students who get an ‘A’ on his exams since 1994. McIntyre has a collection of four different pig stamps to correlate with the four exams in each of his classes.
Students can strive to “collect” all four pig stamps by getting an ‘A’ on all four exams. According to McIntyre, this is a “rare achievement.” Depending on the class, roughly one to two students per semester or year receive all four.
From his pig-covered office, McIntyre explains that pigs have fascinated him ever since he was a child. Beyond his interest in pigs, though, McIntyre continues his pig-stamp tradition because it is a “personalized incentive” that reflects his individuality.
McIntyre wants students to learn that “everyone is unique.” No two people are the same, and we should all “embrace our uniqueness.” Fuller, Horton, and McIntyre are three prime examples of Grove City College professors who demonstrate how much they care about their students.