I understand that at high school level or below, teachers usually spend extra effort helping those students who are struggling. However, how about at college/university level? Here are two philosophies:

  1. A college teacher should be well prepared for the lectures and explain concepts as clearly as possible. He/she may have office hours when students can seek assistance if needed. But a teacher is not responsible if a student is failing the course and does not take the initiative seeking help. If a small percentage of students do poorly in the class, do not bother to find out the reason; just given them whatever grade they deserve.
  2. Teaching well is not enough; a college teacher should also be a nice guy helping whoever are struggling in the course, even though the student never take the initiative seeking assistance. Spend extra time inviting them for a talk and find out the problems; help them as much as possible.

It seems that the second philosophy is big-hearted and will likely benefit most, if not all, struggling students. But it also means significant time investment and extra effort. Am wondering what is generally expected from a college teacher? Is philosophy 1 good enough?

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    $\begingroup$ Is this specific to the subject of mathematics? It might be a better fit for academia.stackexchange.com? Just a thought. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Nov 26 '18 at 15:54
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    $\begingroup$ I second @JW's suggestion that a post on academia.SE might also generate discussion. However, I do think there are some issues unique to mathematics education that could make this a good question. For example, the hierarchical nature of prerequisites seems more pronounced in mathematics than other disciplines (e.g. high school algebra, then precalculus and trigonometry, then calculus, then vector calculus, ...) $\endgroup$ Nov 26 '18 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ Still, I think some more details are needed to narrow the focus of this question. The nature of what is expected of a "college teacher" surely depends on one's country, and even on the caliber of one's school within that country. Also, the current phrasing of the question establishes some false dichotomies, in my eyes. "Philosophy 1" assumes a lecture-based style of teaching. Not everyone does that. And "Philosophy 2" implies that a teacher who does not actively reach out to struggling students is somehow "not a nice guy". I take umbrage with both of those. $\endgroup$ Nov 26 '18 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ Following up on @BrendanW.Sullivan's point, at my University most undergraduate math education takes place in courses with a class size of < 20 students, and are not lectures. The expectations on faculty in a course like that are entirely different than in a 150+ student lecture. $\endgroup$
    – mweiss
    Nov 26 '18 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ To pile onto the comments made by Brendan W. Sullivan and mweiss, the expectations are likely to depend a lot on the institution. A tier 1 research university, a four year liberal arts college, a masters-granting state university, and a community college are all going to have very different expectations. This is in part related to the student-load of an instructor (i.e. $<20$ students vs $>150$ students), but also the expected maturity of the students themselves (generally, the more elite the students, the closer you might get to philosophy 1). $\endgroup$ Nov 26 '18 at 20:15