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Thursday, May 23
The Indiana Daily Student

campus student life

Thank-a-Prof program offers opportunity to show gratitude toward professors


Students can send messages of gratitude to their professors through the Thank-a-Prof program. The program is in its second year and is sponsored by Indiana University’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. 

“The main goal of a program like this is to recognize the importance of gratitude,” CITL Director Greg Siering said. “Gratitude is an important concept for all of us in our lives.” 

Siering has served as the center’s director since 2010. He said CITL helps instructors improve their teaching and develop strategies for student success. 

“We collaborate with them on developing new assignments, new ways of assessing student learning and new ways of supporting student learning,” he said. 

Siering said he borrowed the Thank-a-Prof idea from colleagues at other universities. This is the second time the program is running at IU, and students have sent more than 300 messages in total. 

“At the end of the semester, we are all so busy with getting the final projects done, getting grading done and all those kinds of things,” he said. “It’s really easy to miss closure at the end of the semester and miss that opportunity to express gratitude.” 

He said given his background in teaching, he often thinks about ways to support faculty.

“I know personally a lot of faculty members are really grateful to hear those notes of thanks,” Siering said. 

Emily Dutton is a senior lecturer at the Kelley School of Business. She teaches professional development and communication courses. 

“It is wonderful to be recognized,” she said. “The appreciation is validating and is motiving to know that you’re making a difference, doing positive things and having an influence on someone’s professional development.” 

Dutton started as a career advisor and academic advisor before transitioning into teaching in 2014. She also served as associate director of the Kelley Office of Diversity Initiatives. 

She said she teaches more than 300 students each semester and receives about 15 messages each semester. 

“Sometimes in these professional development classes, the understood value of the content of the classes isn’t always received during the semester but afterwards,” she said. 

Dutton said she makes sure students know she is always available to them, even after they graduate. 

“I always say at the end of the semester that ‘you’re part of my Kelley family, my IU family’” she said. “Anything I can do to help propel you forward is what I’m going to do.” 

Paul Graf is a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Economics. He teaches introductory microeconomics and macroeconomics classes. 

“Any mechanism where students have to go a little bit further to say, ‘thank you,’ means a little bit more,” he said. 

Graf said he receives about three or four messages each semester.  

“Some names are recognized because of my interactions with those students, but some I would have never guessed or known,” he said. 

While he appreciates students coming up to him after class and saying, ‘thank you,’ Graf said the voluntary aspect of the Thank-A-Prof program sets it apart. 

“Now you kind of hope for it; it’s almost like Christmas,” he said. “It’s nice. It’s very much appreciated.” 

CITL’s website encourages students to thank professors who made learning engaging, made going to class worthwhile, served as role models, or motivated and challenged excellence. Students, however, can thank professors for any reason. 

Students are required to sign in with their IU account to verify they are a student, but messages can be anonymous. The website also features messages from previous semesters. 

The form is available on CITL’s website. CITL will collect the responses and send them to the professors afterward. The deadline for this semester’s messages is 8 a.m. May 13. 

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