5 Types of Lecturers in Nigeria and How to Relate with Them By Anas Yazid

By anas | 11 November 2016 | 10 Comments

I have noted over several years how students struggle to keep up academically, and it is often not because they are not intelligent or hardworking, but because they fail to understand the very people that teach them "their lecturers", and appreciate the fact that they are all not the same. The personality of a lecturer determines how you relate with him during lectures, it will also tell you whether you can meet him at his office anytime or by appointment only, whether you can call him or he accepts emails only, should you help him with his bags or not. All these questions can be easily answered if you understand the natural disposition of your lecturers, and mastering this may perhaps be the key to your academic success in the University. I was able to identify 5 types of lecturers in Nigerian Universities. I did this categorization based on their natural disposition, what motivates them, teaching style, how they examine students and how they supervise projects. This classification is by no means exhaustive, and lecturers do not generally fit perfectly into one of these types like a square peg in a square hole, some may overlap types, while some may even combine more than 1 type. However, what I am suggesting is if you are able to generally profile your lecturer based on one of these types then you may consider my ideas on how to best relate with him or her. For the sake of flow of conversation I will use the male gender “He” in this article, I have nothing against women, it is just easier for me to write this way.

1) The Worker

These by far, form the majority of lecturers in Nigerian Universities. This is the person that may not have graduated with impressive results, but he was lucky enough to meet the requirement to start as a graduate assistant in a University, he then quietly makes his way to the top. When the Worker lectures, he usually makes one note and then use it over and over again every year. The notes are usually voluminous and he may end up dictating it throughout the entire lecture session. The Worker is usually very punctual and does not like students coming late to his lectures. When the Worker examines, there is usually a pattern and there are hardly any surprises, he may repeat past questions but hardly deviates too much from his notes. When he marks, he pays very huge attention to detail and you may not pass if you don’t give him what he wants, not necessarily “what is right”. In worst case scenarios, especially in a theoretical course, you would have to give him exactly what he gave you word for word, don't even attempt to change “is not” to “isn’t". When he supervises your project, he may give you a topic, but you will do all the work, even though you may get materials from him. If you choose to do your project with the Worker, his major advantage is that, he is always around and he will take his time to go through the details of your work and make appropriate corrections. He will do this not because he likes you, but may be because he will be using it as his paper publication later to push forward his promotion.

2) The Entrepreneur

Lecturers of this type are also very common in Nigerian Universities and they actually make academic career a bit attractive, you may notice them drive fancy cars and wear nice clothing. These are the smart people, they are in the academics not because they are passionate about research or teaching, but because it gives them the free time they need to run their businesses. Now, as they are business oriented they understand the risk of not doing what is expected of them in their work, so they always meet targets but immediately leave the University premises afterwards. When the Entrepreneur lectures he may not use any structured notes because there is usually no time to prepare them, or like the Worker he may also prepare one note and use it year after year. When the Entrepreneur examines, he set questions that are easy to mark, so if you are smart and understand his patterns, he is the easiest to get "A's". When you choose to do your project with the Entrepreneur, do not ever make the mistake of expecting to see him at the office all the time, you may be meeting him at his home, or his other office. The Entrepreneur would normally allow phone calls but if he is under 40 years, he would most definitely prefer email. When working with this type, know that you will be doing most of the work, even though the project may not be as voluminous as it would have been when supervised by the Worker, the Entrepreneur would most likely value significance of your work over its volume. The major problem when working with this type is that he may not be too detailed when correcting your work, and you may end up having tough time during your project defense.

3) The Expert

Lecturers of this type are the actual true lecturers and vessels of knowledge. They probably chose academic career very early in their lives, much like how someone would want to be a pilot, a doctor, or an engineer at 10. They are extremely rare in the Nigerian Universities and they are high achievers. You may see them taking up appointments later in their lives such as Rectors, Vice Chancellors or Ministers. When the Expert gives lectures, he literary transfers knowledge and wisdom especially when he is at his older age. This type is the one whose lectures you would look forward to attending every week. You may sit and just listen without taking notes and you will still enjoy it, you may even consider recording his lectures as later references when studying. His younger version may be a little impatient with his students, especially when they fail to grasp his concepts, plus he makes his lectures more challenging because of his high expectations of his students. The Expert is constantly updating his lectures and teaching style unlike the Worker and the Entrepreneur. When the Expert examines, his questions are usually applied and a bit challenging, but if you attend his lectures and work very hard, he has no problem giving you an “A” in his course. When you choose to do a project with the Expert, expect to work very hard, with a lot of input from him, especially if he finds your topic interesting. However, you may run into trouble with him if you are not serious or your work does not motivate him.

4) The Comrade

This type is by far one of the most difficult to relate with among all other types. He thinks people take life too seriously, and he personally believes living a spartan way is the only righteous way to live. You may see him wearing ragged clothing & sometimes bathroom slippers to class, sometimes you will also see him riding a bicycle even when he is a professor. Now when the Comrade lectures he may spend over half of the time criticizing the government or the school management. His lectures are generally fun even though you are actually not learning much, as he kind of entertain his students with jokes. Now when the Comrade examines you, he may go way beyond the scope of what he had actually taught. His question paper alone may even be up to 5 pages, and no one ever gets an “A” in his course, for some reason only known to him. If you encounter this type you may want get ideas on his approach from his former students and just work hard enough to pass the course or get a good grade. When you wish to do your project with this type expect some uncomfortable conversations, however if you are in charge of your work and require little input from him, you may find him easy to work with. Under no circumstances do you want to get in the bad books of the Comrade as he will literary make it his business to mess you up. It is always better to keep a distance with this type and make sure you do not have any personal relationship with him.

5) The Opportunist

This is unfortunately the most dangerous of all the types, most of us in the academics deny they exist but the truth is they actually do, and not talking about them, or advising students on how to relate with them and how the system gets rid of them actually does more damage than good. Even though they are extremely rare but they end up always painting a negative picture on the academic profession in the society, some guy even made a song about this type, but generalize it with the title “Mr. Lecturer”. This type takes advantage of his students, he may request financial favor in return for passing his course. On a more subtle note, he may try to generate income from his students by making purchase of certain things mandatory e.g. a book, a handout or attending a training course outside the University. On a more immoral note he may request certain favors from his female students in return for passing his course. Now even though the Opportunist may repeat his lectures notes, and his exams may take a particular pattern, he usually structure his lectures and exams to maximize these opportunities. However, in most cases, when an incidence occurs involving this type and a student, 90% of the time it is the student that always starts the whole thing by offering something. What many students don't realize is that once this type starts with you, he may not give you what you want for several years. So my advice is do not ever go and ask for anything from this type, whether you are a male or female, and whenever he makes certain advances towards you, report him to the University management immediately, not your department but the management. However I don't have to emphasize that you only do this when you have strong evidence that will prove your allegations beyond reasonable doubt.

Do you know another lecturer type not mentioned here, comment below and let me know.


These classification got me reflecting on some specific lecturers I had. Some are a combination. Nice piece Sir

Very interesting, quite accurate and enlightening

that is absolutely right!

I've been teaching for 10 years and i will say i have traits from 2 and 3. I like my Job and passionate, but business is my passion as well. Both are fine and dont cross over. A millionaire and an expert.

There are a few who don't come to class at all. They push every responsibilities to their surbodinates. They practically have no business in academics. They got there in the first instance through "man knows man" and 'worked' their way up the ladder. They contribute nothing to the development of their students, are quick to remind you of the fact that they're professors and won't leave the system until they reach the age of retirement because no meaningful establishment will absorb them. They are worse than 5 and are parasitic to the system. I call them - the parasites.

A very interesting observation, will make further research on them and also write about them. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Very interesting Sir. I wish this is a column in any of the National dailys for more targeted audience. Sir permission to share.

A very well articulated piece sir. There is this type of lecturer that I called 'the BOSS type' that is arrogant in nature and assumes he knows everything. He is aggressive when teaching and severely furnish his student for even the slightest mistake. most of those that failed his course did so not because of their poor performance but because they failed to abide by some of his strange rules and regulations.

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