I'm attending a graduate lecture at a university in Europe. Two lecturers, both PhD students, are giving their first lecture. One of the PhD students is senior and another just recently enrolled in the PhD program. Technically, I'm not so sure if it is legal or acceptable (within EU education system) that having PhD students organize the whole course when the professor never show up.
The lecture is a completely new lecture not given before at this university. As the lecture is new and domain wise narrow, there isn't any remotely related lectures I can find in other universities, thus hardly any reference material is available through the internet. So practically, the only references are their slides.
Personally for me, the material/slides given by them are insufficient to solve the assignment. According to university regulations, the course requires theoretically not more than 6 hours per week on it, but practically, I have spent more than 20 hours every week re-watching the lecture video and re-reading the slides, yet still struggling for the assignment. I asked for help or hints from the lectures when stuck in an assignment, but got always rejected with "NO, given materials are good enough, fill the gap yourself." Other conversations are like: "function X is not mentioned anywhere else other than slide Y, it looks critical to our assignment, but no other references or examples can be borrowed. Could you provide some hints on what is it actually?", the lecturers response with "It can be easily inferred from the name, we don't give any more information other than the slides." Such questions are never answered, let alone getting "hints" from them.
As much as I don't enjoy the way they teach, they are not bad people to me. Perhaps their expectation to students is largely biases as their research topic are pretty narrow and unpopular. They simply don't have a good image of how students (statistically wise) like for those who are not doing research in their direction , and expect every audience is like them 5/10 years younger. Of course none of this was mentioned on course website or prerequisites.
The difficulties are not about understanding a brilliant paper, or improve some obscure algorithms, but to implement programs in a certainly constrained way they propose. An analogy to the coursework requirement would be, to implement heap sorting or ray tracing in CMake script. You would understand how weird this is if you study computer science. Thus for sure, there is no reference or any other material we could use.
I tend to believe as they lack formal teaching experience, they set an unrealistically high standard for students.
More than half of the students dropped out half way through the course already, now there are only less than 10 students left. After talking to these students, most of them agree with my impression that it is too demanding as a non-major course and also struggle a lot with the deadlines.
I don't want to fail the course, and I will stay and suck it up anyway. But other than "sucking it up", what are other (diplomatic) actions I can do at the same time to secure my chance of passing this lecture?
- The professor in charge of this course replied to my email that he won't discuss with an anonymous email address, and that he could perhaps set up a meeting including these two lecturers if I resend the email with my university account. I'm afraid exposing my identity would fail me for the course (I am just not comfortable with this after my previous attempts to discuss this with the lecturers were rebuffed).
- I contacted the student union with an anonymous email. They are willing to investigate the matter, and collect students' opinion on it, then possibly talk to the lecturers as a student group.