Why do some Universities Teach Better?

         By Vic Odarve

Some universities teach better than others; hence producing the best quality of graduates. People believe that the performance of these universities largely depends on their management style; may a private or federal government funded. Whatever the reasons, these universities that teach better have common denominators, as follows;


1.Highly qualified lecturers/teachers. This is the main factor that contributes to the student’s academic success or educational quality. Mathematically speaking, knowledge to be imparted from the lecturers is directly proportional to what lecturers are having.With highly qualified lecturers, there is a predetermined body of knowledge that the teacher should pass on to the student.

These universities believe that the qualifications and competency of the lecturers bear some direct correlation to their work as lecturers.  Retention of these lecturers/teachers maintains the good performance of the institution.  Good lecturers foster student mastery of more rigorous and challenging academic contents. They can create a positive learning environment in the classroom. These lecturers allow students to feel comfortable, safe and engaged – something that all students deserve. The academic success of any school depends on the instruction provided by the hands of able, high quality and committed teachers.

Engineering students

       Engineering students

2. Strong management supports to teachers/lecturers/students. These universities do have a strong support to the lecturers as well as students by having seminars, upgrading activities, incentives, and other forms of relevant enrichments.  Some do have programs for students such as allowing them to spend time in a clinic, establishments, or school to observe the work of a professional in the field. In most cases, the students may participate in the work in addition to field trips and on the job training.

3. Sufficient and modern laboratory facilities. These universities do have better and updated laboratory equipment and apparatus to meet the advancement of science and technology. Hands- on- training develops student skills and first -hand knowledge application from the classroom lectures. Students can conduct experiments that replicate or illustrate a scientific principle introduced in the course. Laboratory experiments are important in courses such as Physics, acoustics, thermodynamics, and mechanics. Laboratory sections usually augment lectures or discussions in the classrooms. Speech laboratories allow students to listen to audio tapes or use other interactive forms of instruction. These laboratories can provide necessary training for students’ creativity, insight, and analytical skills.

Advising student

                        As adviser

4. Offer competitive salaries. These universities offer attractive salaries to the lecturers. Good salaries tend to attract more competent teachers. The managements believe that with good salaries, lecturers would stay longer at the university, meet the cost of living, bring contentment to the teaching profession, and drive motivation in the day to day activities in the classroom.  The management does not focus too much on monetary profit.

 Universities with the above features teach the students better; hence producing world class graduates – extremely well prepared for high skilled-level jobs globally and potential for future world leaders and great statesmen. In contrast, low-performing schools do not give much attention to the above school environments.


My Math Visitor

By Vic Odarve

Except for private institutions, the country’s federal state universities and colleges were plagued with teachers’ union strike. Students stayed at their homes waiting for trouble to settle and resume their classes afterward. But one student refused to stop her schooling!

So I am lucky to teach in one of the private universities. No teachers’ union strike!

Engineering Mathematics 1

Engineering Mathematics 1

In one of my visit to the university library to read some local newspaper, one of the students approached and requested me to have some explanation on the math solutions previously discussed in the classroom. “Okay, what part of the topic?” I told her. She opened her notes and showed the steps where she got the problems and I did the explanation and discussion. Satisfied, she said, “Thank you, Sir, I understand already”, she said. Then I said,” How was the result of your last quiz?” “I got 90 % score, Sir”, she smiled. “Good, and on next quiz you must get a perfect score”, I replied. Then she slowly walked quietly and slip away. I paid little attention. She got a good score. So nothing to worry!  She may just serious enough and want to do more on her study every day.

Family tour-Chocolate hills,Philippines

Family tour-Chocolate hills, Philippines

Then, the next quiz came. Only 5 out of 234 students in a class got a perfect score. And she was one of them!

It was then that I gave her an attention. I noticed that during the class session, she sat at the end of the last row of the seats in a packed and overcrowded room. She listened intently and focused to my discussion. No friend, no talking even on her seatmates as if she knew none of her classmates! “She must be too shy”, I guessed.

The semester math course was about to finish. I gave the final quiz before the final exam. “This would be the last quiz”, I told the students. Then what was the result? She got perfect score again! She had done it! “She is a good performing student”, I told myself.

The next meeting I returned the quiz scripts. She was absent. For almost two weeks, I could no longer see her. Then I inquired the course representative and her classmates what happened to this girl. To my surprise, none of her classmates knew her. She vanished and I received no word from her and her whereabouts! I am completely blank!

After two weeks my phone rang. The girl informed me that she returned to her school at the federal university since the teachers’ strike was over. She thanked and told me that she learned and enjoyed math during her stint in my class. It was then I knew that she was my math- visitor. She was not my student! She refused to stop schooling! Then she returned to where she belonged!


Professor Challenges Math Students

By Vicodar

Students need to be challenged. That is why in almost all my quizzes in mathematics are open notes, books, etc. just to keep them a challenge. But of course only a few got perfect scores. As for most of the professors/lecturers, we know how far are our students could get the correct answers even though we give them every opportunity to do so. Mathematics is difficult and most students hate this course. But if we let them open notes and books during quizzes, they are smiling ear to ear!

Open books and notes quiz keep students smiling from ear to ear.

Open books and notes quiz keep students smiling from ear to ear.

In addition to open notes and books, I also post the quiz/exam results in the website. It’s another challenge! Posting makes students feel like climbing a ladder. Noting their names on top 3 performers would raise their adrenaline of studying more. Much more, as good performers, students boost their pride such that they invite their parents to visit the website and see their names posted. And seizing this opportunity, students feel they have more bargaining power to secure for more allowance for the next semester. “This is how you would like to be on top 3”, exclaimed one of the students.

How about the professors/lecturers! They will be receiving e-mails that excite their hearts and elevate themselves to the highest level of their profession. Among e-mails they received are citing them as best lecturers, world-class teachers, mathematics genius, the best teacher I ever meet, and many more. Parents sometimes send e-mails for their support of the professors.

Prestigious colleges and universities usually share common denominators; their lecturers/professors are authors of textbooks and journals, etc. This generation of lecturers/professors gives the best education of our youths. It is world-class! A professor who could write books on his field of expertise shows ‘having something’ to impart. You could not give if you don’t have! Thus with their expertise they could lecture well and play the students to the next level of education. They can bring students to dance on their own rhythm or pacing of teaching. It is on this quality of mentors that keep the student’s interested in math. These are the teachers that keep student’s ability to challenge and learn and actively participate in classroom activities. A missing link in most African universities and colleges!

As long as this scenario is present in any higher institutions of learning, students flock to this school and join thousands of others benefiting the best education of the land. One of the lecturers had noticed and told me “Sir, did you know that students are increasing every year and the enrollment is flowing like a river?” Then I replied, ”As long as good/competent lecturers are here; so long live these lecturers, and this gives life to thee”.

This is the picture today, and should remain as is. Father founder philosophy of the institution is simple; this is for the youth the hope of the fatherland, and for those who love education.The day will soon come when these students will be catapulted to be one of the world’s best. Expat –White men lecturers who mould some of these students always say that races don’t exist: there is only the human race, to which we all belong.



Let us learn from plants! It is the nature’s way. Just like learning math at classroom! Plants make use of the quantum physics superposition theory. They harvested packets of light energy and converted to chemical energy with remarkable efficiency. Experts found that photons come in and see many energy paths and the effect called “coherence” helps determine which path is the most efficient to follow. That is it! Plants, the receiving end, maximize the conversion process!

IMG-20131003-00161Students studying mathematics are like plants harvesting the light energy. If students do not find the most efficient way to capture the wisdom of the classroom discussion, they are not converting efficiently the best knowledge that supposes to be imparted by the lecturers. Everything they do from the start to the end of the lectures has something to do with their own learning method.
Classroom lectures work on the same idea as plants do. Students, being the recipient of knowledge, must learn it with remarkable efficiency. Teachers always find the most efficient means to impart the subject to the students the best that they can deliver. Teachers feed them different ways how to solve mathematical problems by breaking these into its components slowly

Engineering Mathematics 1 students batch 2013 First Semester

Engineering Mathematics 1 students batch 2013 First Semester

and slowly. Then finally problems are transformed to its basic operations. This is basically the features of the classroom lectures!
Still classroom lectures are the best means for students to learn fast in mathematics. Teachers are there to instruct, discuss, assist, and show different approaches in mathematics by working out examples and illustrations. Classroom lecture offers opportunities for students to ask questions, offers suggestions and presents ideas, and shares knowledge with others.
In order to help students, the following are tips on how to maximize learning on classroom lectures;

1. Take an advanced reading of the topic for discussion before going to the class. Just read and picture out the new subject matter even you do not have clear understanding. Just a glimpse of the new topic! The idea is to let you feel as if you are in a review mode when you are in the classroom.

2. Listen carefully the discussion done by the teachers. Make notes on important points! This keeps you alert for the whole session. This avoids feeling sleepy or daydreaming. Sometimes teachers could share their own knowledge on things that may not be found in your textbook. Be an active participant.

3. Ask question if you fail to grasp some important points during class lectures. This keeps you from guessing and spending time later on your review. By asking questions, you learn and solidify important points. Understand the why behind every steps of the solution.

High-achievers undoubtedly do more efficient way to maximize their learning in classroom. Though not all students are endowed with wisdom to learn quickly like King Solomon, above suggested tips will help the slow learners in Mathematics. Remember there is no day in our life without mathematics!

Ask and Learn from your Classmates

By Vic Odarve

It is the simplest thing to do for the students to learn more and pass the course.

Last semester, I had a quiz in Mathematics consisted of four problems. The last problem was the most difficult. Thus, it required an extra mile solution – deeper analysis- so to speak! As expected, the results after marking: only 2 out of 380 students got perfect scores. No wonder, it was difficult. But one of these students who got perfect scores caught my attention. It was intriguing! This student had never been in my list as top performers of the class! After rechecking, I found her script was perfect from the initial steps of the solutions until the very end. The solutions were well presented. Presentation was so detailed that no appreciable error can be seen. When the class resumed, I returned their individual papers or scripts and let her solved the problems on the board. To my surprise she explained very well; discussed  solutions perfectly that the class applauded her. “Thank you, well done”, I commended her after the discussion. Oh my God, I was awed and shocked in disbelief?

Engineering Mathematics

Engineering Mathematics

After a week, I happened to meet and talk her in the library how she was able to solve the last problem. “Yes, very difficult sir but I was able to ask help from my classmate few days before the quiz and we discussed together”. That’s it. It was her secret! Asking help from her classmates! She was referring to the other one who always got perfect score in all of my quizzes –a gifted student in Math!

No doubt! She learned by asking help from her classmates during study and propelled her way to get perfect scores! A simple act yet effective in Mathematics! Asking help from your classmates or teachers is one of the options to learn and pass this course.

Every student runs into problems in Mathematics courses from time to time. Even the bright ones! This is a part of learning process. But students who ask help from teachers or classmates appear to move and recover the lessons easily. Problems are likely getting past by asking help. Resourceful students are doing this way.

Classroom lecture!

Classroom lecture!

By asking, students are benefited! The students may ask help from their classmates and get perfect scores during exams! But every student must know the art of asking either from her teacher or classmates in order to learn most out of it. The following tips help students maximize the benefits of asking from their classmates;

1. Do the explanations. Show the way how you come up the solutions until the steps you lose. The reason is clear: the one who does the explaining will learn the most.
2. When you are working in group or sharing some ideas, share your opinions with others. Don’t let only one person do all the talking. Participate!

Just follow the above tips and it works!

The Joy of Helping Others

               By Vic Odarve

My office is open to all students except on some special occasions. And one day, a student came to my office asking assistance on how to derive the famous Einstein equation E= mc2. Upon recognizing that he was not my student, I asked him “How do you know that I can derive the equation?”My friend told me, Sir”, he replied warily.

Final Exam

              Fr. Edeh’s Arch Exam room

Then on another occasion, students came to my office bringing laptops and asking more tips on solving problems on matrices, statistics, and linear programming using MS Excel. The same thing: most of them were not my students! Then I asked them, “How do you know that I can help you?”Our friends told us, Sir”, they replied in unison.

“No problem”, I said to myself. I love to help students. A little help would mean a lot to them. These students are resourceful and they are making the best of things while I am still in this university.


                  Seminar Workshop

Then one day somebody knocked my office door. I was surprised. He was not a student! He was a university teacher and an owner of a mall in the community. He requested for a website design offering assistance for campus students! I was overwhelmed! I was wondering how he got the information. Without asking questions and hesitation, I made one for him! Later I found out   that students told him that I am making a website for free.

That was it! I designed a website for free. It was a good website design and it attracted students’ attention. It became a big hit in the campus! The news spread like a wildfire in the entire university. Students were asking who design the website! The word was spreading.

Madonna University, Elele Campus, Rivers State, Nigeria

Madonna University, Elele Campus, Rivers State, Nigeria

After a few months and upon their request, I conducted a seminar on website design inside in the campus. The seminar drew much attention to students and community people alike. There I found myself speaking in a huge crowd that I never expected. My heart filled with joy. I could see on their faces how happy the students and community people were!

That’s how the things started. From a student who came to know the E= MC2 and ended on a seminar engagement on website design!

This is life. A little help makes a big difference to our neighbors. Just by helping others freely without expecting something in return! Helping others by sharing your knowledge gives you a happiness that money can’t buy. The events become the opportunity for growth. It motivates us to do more and make our life fulfilling. You feel that you are adored and loved by the students as well as the community people. Sharing our knowledge to the less fortunate makes you always feel happy. It also brings joy to our neighbors, too! You have done something good to your brothers and pleasing to the eyes of our Maker. The bible says,

“Let each of us bring joy to our neighbors helping them for the good purpose, for building up.”
– Romans 15, 2

I did it for the glory of God the Father! And to the one sitting on His right hand where no angels and prophets were ever admitted!



 “It was so simple but challenging”, quipped one student after the quiz. Definitely students love this type of quiz. They find the quiz on finding the determinants, inverse matrices, and eigenvalues/eigenvectors give them the opportunity to test how far their learning progresses on that particular course. That is, taking a simple but challenging quiz!

Engineering Mathematics 2 Batch 2012-2013 Second Semester

Engineering Mathematics 2 Batch 2012-2013 Second Semester

What makes it simple? It is simple because the given matrices during the quiz were almost similar to the examples discussed in details during classroom session except a change on one of the entries in every row. This type of quiz is challenging because it is open notes, books, and other related materials. Laptops are allowed where they can use the program MS Excel. But everybody has to observe the” strictly no borrowing materials from the classmates!” rule.

Another word of caution! Solutions must be legibly written and presented in detail or step by step. Laptops are used only for counterchecking or guide as their works in progress. That’s it and nothing more!


Open books, notes, and related references during quizzes are welcomed by engineering students. Mathematics especially dealing on matrices is difficult to work with. As matrix size increases, the difficulty in computation also increases. Rules are sometime complicated and requires complete understanding before our confidence of getting correct answer develops. Memorization of procedures does not work well if without understanding as you will soon forget the procedures as the solution progresses. Most often in matrices a change of a single element or entry will change the whole environment of computation. The solution is very sensitive to the slight changes in the initial condition of the matrices. Just like chaotic theory, any error in a single step can produce large error in the final answer. That’s why open notes, books, etc during quizzes works well with matrices. The main objective is to make students familiar the algorithm on how to get to the final answer.

The reason is clear. Let the students learn the basics of matrices operation. With almost all computation nowadays done by a computer, we are preparing our students to this world ahead. It is then the classroom learning works in the open fields after completing their course. In a real world, computers and engineers work hand in hand in the industrial fields.


As expected silence engulfed the whole classroom as quiz started. Everybody was busy and concentrated on their works. No ogling for solutions on another paper. All eyes were on their own paper. Time limitation for the quiz was enforced. A real world in a classroom!

What was the result on that quiz? Only sixty percent (60%) passed. Failed students came to me with various reasons. Some confided that they had not prepared well and not listening during classroom lectures. In summary, failed students had reasons with the same denominator. They same old stories! Still clinging to their old ways of bad habits! They vowed to change the old ways. They blamed themselves for failing the quiz! One thing is certain…not blaming to the lecturer!

So, what is next? Some wept and admittedly vowed to change for a better! Then I told these poor youngsters, “Go and change your ways for it is not too late, more quizzes are coming. Unless you change your ways, you will not pass this course”

Sounds biblical?  Yes. Students must change their ways in order to pass the course. Jesus at the early part of his preaching often told the crowd to change the ways and believe the good news so that they will not be perished. Everybody must be prepared.

“He said, “The time has come; the kingdom of God is at hand. Change your ways and believe the Good News.””

– Mark 1,15

“I tell you: no. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish as they did.”

– Luke 13,3

That’s it. Failed students must change for a better for they will they will not only pass this course but one day they will also meet the One sitting on the throne for final judgment to all mankind.


Effective University Teachers

              By Vic Odarve

What are we looking for in a university teacher?

Teaching courses for kinder and secondary level may have its own requirements. Good teacher qualities such as understanding, patience, passion, confidence, and many more. How about college students? Students are no longer kids!

working overtime for lecture preparation

Working overtime for lecture preparation

There are many qualities needed but the most desired ones for an effective university teacher are the following;

1. Must be an academically able.

“You cannot give if you don’t have”, as the saying goes. That is why we prefer a teacher who has written books and experience in their courses which they are teaching. This indicates teacher has something on his head.  A sound foundation of the course is the first step. Other ingredients such as the manner of presentation, discussions, and exposition of the subject matter will come to play later by experience.

Marking Quiz scripts

Marking Quiz scripts

2. Must be able to bring excitements/interactions with the students inside the classroom.

A good and effective teacher draws excitement whenever he discusses the subject matter. As a result, strong interaction takes place. He has the ability to inculcate and impart these ideas to the students. The magnitude of exchanging ideas and the excitement is felt by the students largely determine the grasping of knowledge. The more they feel and the stronger they excite, the more they learn. This is the best scenario inside the classroom.

University teacher works like the Higgs boson particle. This particle completed the missing link for our standard model of particles of physics for the past 45 years before confirmed its existence last July 4, 2012. This particle answers on how matters obtain mass. And it works like a university teacher in the classroom and on how student obtains learning in their courses.

Lecturer at work

Lecturer at work

Here’s how why it works like a teacher! The Higgs field exists across the whole universe. As particle trudges the Higgs field, the field becomes excited and the Higgs boson mediates interaction and exchanging particles take place. The magnitude of the mass acquired by the object depends on how the particle feels the effect of excitement and interaction in this field. That is why we have heavy, slight, or massless objects as photons and gluons.

Sounds like a classroom teacher?


Briefing her students on the next lessons

3.  University teacher must be able to make his own examples in addition on what are in the textbook. Examples which are based on local setting are preferable so that students can relate and have a clear picture. Much more if examples are part of a student’s daily lives. It’s a real life drama unfolding before the very eyes!

References like biblical passages, even a world apart from the topics discussed, may give a clearer picture on the principles of the subject matter.

Who knows? By quoting biblical verses you are touching lives, morally and spiritually. Though different worlds as setting, real life against the old scriptures, it can offer a vivid picture on what you meant. Bear in mind! God’s word is convincing and powerful!

Is your teaching institution has a  teacher as described? If so, glory to our God in the Highest.



“It is disgusting! I do not expect it! Do this in computer please!” the Head of the Department said.

That was 20 years ago! It was my fault. I did submit the grades of my students in a handwritten and tabulated format. There were computers but I was not comfortable in using them.

What followed was a stern warning from the Head of our Department. “All reports must be done in computer”! The memorandum was loud and clear. That’s it! No recourse, follow the leader!

Grading sheets kept at Records Office

Grading sheets kept at Records Office

Since then, all grades/reports and its computations were done in computers. We saw its benefits and we were all conquered. Imagine grade computation by MS Excel! Just copy the formula and paste the computation, it solves everything. Saving time and effort! It’s amazing technology! Making the life of teacher or lecturer better!

But when I began teaching here in Africa, the picture 20 years ago was alive and kicking! Grades either posted or submitted to the Record Office were done as we did it before. Handwritten and tabulated format! I remember the year of black and white television! Oh my God that was our life before! It is alive here!

But they have every reason. It was just a few years back that large natural oil deposits boomed up in this country so as the educational institution. A reason to justify! So the best thing to do! Stern warning from the Head of Office and the system will be changed!


Expatriates lecturers/teachers are needed to spark the technology of the institution. So the management did it! Several expats are now on the fold of the university. This school may now catch up the technology trends. This is where this school is heading! On the right track! Today we see voluminous files of students records placed in cabinets, stockrooms, etc. Records office, registrar, libraries, enrollment procedures, and similar activities are not yet computerized. As a result, no expeditious information delivery to the students, teachers, and parents! You have to wait a week or months to get your transcripts of records and similar documents. Perhaps tomorrow, these pictures will be gone! We will be on computerized system. Technological revolution is underway and it is changing society. It is not make-believe anymore. It is real! It is a major societal trans formative force that shapes the modern world.

What’s the big difference on computerized records system? Computerized system can provide almost everything you ask for information on a student. Just select and look at anyone of the documents on-screen and you got it!

Nothing in this world is constant except change. Move to computerization!

Teaching Math with Hybrid Strategy

By Vic Odarve

Here comes a teaching method-hybrid or blended learning technique for mathematics courses. This hybrid method is traditional classroom teaching coupled with e-learning technology. Since e-learning technology is available outside the classroom, students have an access to continue at their own pace to review and study the lectures. This makes the lecture effective than ever before; hence the output of the students’ learning is a remarkable. As a result, the university is a world-class teaching institution. This is teaching math with a hybrid strategy.

Engineering Math

Engineering Math

 Math is a very difficult subject and is extensive in all engineering courses. Lecturers must go outside the box. This means that they must go beyond the traditional learning methods from textbook, chalk and eraser, or classroom based instructions. In addition, the application of personal computers, laptops, websites, blog sites, video tutorials, email, power point presentation, and other technological advances supplement the classroom

Classroom Lecture

Classroom Lecture

instructions. This strategy, which is missing in most African universities, improves the math learning process. MS Excel, which is readily available in laptops, is an excellent program in solving problems related to statistics, economics, matrices, linear programming, etc. These enable the students abreast the latest technological applications of modern gadgets and assist them in their mathematical calculations easier and faster; instead of keeping them busy browsing social networking such as Facebook, twitter, games, music, videos, etc. In order the

E-learning in Math

E-learning in Math

students challenge of this new approach on teaching mathematics they are required to bring their laptops to the class and do the hands on in solving exercises and problems related to the course. Further, quizzes and exams will be solved by manual computation and by computer generated solutions. Simple but students is challenged on this strategy!

Since e-learning technology is available outside the classroom,

Atong,Isaiah, and Irie. These new generation kids will learn Math with e-learning.

Atong,Isaiah, and Irie. These new generation kids will learn Math with e-learning.

students have an access to continue to study and review the materials at their own pace. Teachers purposely build websites, blog sites, email, and videos where additional lectures and instruction are found. Video tutorials are available on websites for them to download. In some African universities, a class size for 100 and 200 level college levels usually ranges from 200 to 1000 students. This teaching approach counts a lot!

And you can do more! Lecturers may post the top placers few days after the examination days on the blog site… a delight to the students as well as the parents! It is also on this teaching strategy that students can ask their questions, discuss their ideas, and even offer some more suggestions that something classroom instruction cannot usually offer due to time limitations. They do these on your e-mails and blog responses.

This method makes the lecture effective than ever before; hence the output of the students’ learning is a remarkable. Learning through computers, video tutorials, web or blog sites, etc., may be conducive to individual preferences as students can learn at their own pace and may have more retention in their lessons. Further, students can open web and blog sites where lecturers can put their assignments and other instructional materials. These are some of the things that traditional classroom strategy cannot always offer. No doubt these new technologies coupled with the traditional method strongly enhance in learning mathematics easier and challenging.

As a result, university can be a world-class teaching institution. With lecturers adopting the hybrid strategy in teaching math, graduates will be competitive with other world class institution of learning. It is now a rapid changing world where an education acquired 10 years ago is no longer relevant or maybe obsolete today if not upgraded.

How about you, my brothers? Did you go outside the box and find ways to improve your teaching strategy? Even Abraham tried to find ways to convince the Lord God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction after a lengthy discussion. By finding ways Abraham humbles himself by saying,” Lord. I am so much less important than you. So if someone compares me with you, I am only like dust and ashes.” Gen 18:27. Have you found ways to see and talk with God? Like Abraham, we will be seeing Him” face to face” later. Rev. 22:4

Just like Abraham, our quest to supplement  traditional classroom method with latest technology has been our lasting legacy to the new generation. This hybrid strategy works and your students will be smiling!