Together, they moved to rural Pennsylvania and a position at Bucknell University. With just over 3,500 students, Bucknell was very different from the large schools Andrew had previously attended, the smallest of those being the University of Alberta with nearly 30,000 students.
However, these changes were no problem. With his great education, love for teaching, and his calm demeanor, Andrew fit in very quickly with Bucknell faculty and students.
Dr. Sloboda’s students have described him as “chill.” When told this, he laughed and said he just tries to be open, accessible and transparent. His goal is to be in close communication with all of his students.
Andrew's communication strategy
To achieve his communications goal, he uses different strategies to structure the classroom: he establishes a two-way situation that involves active participation by the students, where they do not just sit and listen to lectures.
“I tell the students at the outset of my classes that I have lots of opportunities to talk to them," Andrew says. "I'm at the front of the room, I grade their assignments; I have lots of channels of information flow to the students."
"But what really makes a class great is when they have information flow back to me. I tell them participating in class is important. If there's a question, if you're not sure about something — raise the issue! I also have students conduct conversations amongst themselves.
"Having all those things in the classroom space is what makes that a good learning environment.”
Beyond the classroom, he checks in with each student several times a semester with an informal survey about the progress of their learning and how to make the course better. He also makes sure the students know he is available to them.
“I let the students know I'm an accessible person. I tell them, I'm learning just like you. I'm really not a scary person. Oftentimes a big obstacle for students to come to office hours or to admit that they don't understand a particular concept is that they think it is a hindrance to me, but I explain that it is part of my job.”
And it is a part of his job that he loves, because he enjoys helping students.