This quarter, I took my first General Chem course. I'm a pre-med Biology major, and I really enjoyed Chemistry in high school. I also really enjoyed the Chem lab this quarter (separate from the lecture). However, my Chem lecture did not go well. From the beginning, I knew it was a bust.

When I registered for the class, it was to be an all in-person class. First week, he sends an email to everyone saying the lecture will be online. There were two sections, 10am and 2pm. He said he would lecture live on Zoom to the 10am class, and the 2pm class could just watch the recorded video of that lecture (I was in the 2pm). Now, I must admit, I did miss watching lectures here and there because that teaching delivery does not work for me and I can not focus. Regardless, the lectures I did watch were awful. He literally laid on his stomach on his bed just reading the lecture slides, never actually explaining anything. There were 2 midterms and 1 final. Both midterms were all online. On the first one, I did well because I worked with others on it (as he permitted us to), but the second one I totally failed because I thought I could do it on my own.

Anyways, the final approaches and everybody fails. I'm talking 48% on the final. And you don't think you did anything wrong? Anything I learned in the class came from my TA. So, my end grade in the class was a 71%. But, I genuinely do not feel like this is my fault - at least not majority.

My ultimate question is, does anybody have any advice on someone I can contact about an unfair grade? I've read that this type of thing is not enough grounds for that, though. I'm sure a terrible professor failing a bunch of students must be a common problem, but I just don't know what to do or who to talk to. I've talked to a TA (prof's right hand man, was absolutely no help), and I emailed my advisor hoping they can help. Please, any advice!

1 Answer 1


does anybody have any advice on someone I can contact about an unfair grade?

You have not presented any evidence that your grade was unfair. An unfair grade would be if you answered questions correctly but they were marked incorrectly, or if the instructor had lost your assignments and given them zeros. As it is, you just have a vague sense of "I feel like this wasn't entirely my fault" -- this is not actionable.

He literally laid on his stomach on his bed just reading the lecture slides

This does sound terrible. You can certainly complain about your instructor; see the discussion here. If you convince the higher-ups that your instructor was incompetent, negligent, and ineffective, they may prevent him from teaching in the future. Certainly having a well-written note from a large group of students would be more convincing than a ranting note from a single disgruntled student. But this will not help your GPA.

Please, any advice!

I think you need to shift your mindset away from "it's the instructor's job to teach me what I need to know." Certainly the instructor's lessons should be helpful at some level; this is what you are paying for. But sadly, this is not always the case, and even a good instructor will not cover all the material in a way that makes sense to every student.

In this case, you claim to have realized right at the beginning that this instructor "was a bust"; this would have been the time to take action. Ideally, this would entail switching to another instructor or rescheduling the course, but I realize this is not always possible. So, this might entail learning from the textbook, or from free online resources, or with other students. The great thing about courses like general chemistry is that millions of students study this subject every year, so there are tons of resources out there; you are not totally dependent on your instructor.

  • In the wise words of a colleague: “In university there is no teaching, only learning.” Dec 18, 2022 at 6:54
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    Thank you for your feedback. This is completely the answer I was expecting, as I know I am responsible for my grade to a certain extent in a situation like this. At this point, I think I’ve just accepted the C, and I’m going to take your advice, and write a letter to the higher ups, signing it from myself as well as (many) other individuals I know who struggled because of the professor’s incompetency. Again, thank you for the help, I appreciate it!
    – kayla
    Dec 18, 2022 at 20:18
  • + Meant to say, my goal at this point is to prevent him from teaching in the future.
    – kayla
    Dec 18, 2022 at 20:19

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