108

I'm currently in a class in my major that meets for 50 minutes 3 times a week. Meanwhile, I'm a member of a campus club, unrelated to my major, which meets right after this class one day.

My professor has decided that he should have the students stay an extra 30-45 minutes after class on the day of the meetings so that he can continue to teach.

I'm the only one in the class who has voted against this, which makes me uncomfortable, because I'm what's forcing the class to have a faster pace.

Am I right in being outraged? Is it not the professor's job to teach the necessary course material in the time allotted, as opposed to having students stay late for no credit? Should I cave in and just not go to the club meetings? They're not important for my major, and I'm not an officer, but I immensely enjoy them.

Edit: I've been asked in the comments why my professor is doing this. It has to do with the pacing of the course--if we had to stick to 50 minutes 3 times a week, then the pace would have to be much faster.

  • 1
    Which country is this? There is likely to be cultural differences. – Tommi Brander Mar 11 at 9:31
206

I guess I'm going to be the contrary opinion here. I don't think your professor's request is reasonable at all. Class time is scheduled the way it is so that people can plan the rest of their lives around the schedule. In this case, nobody but you seems to have anything from 12:50 on, but that shouldn't encourage the prof to monopolize that time.

Some may think your extracurricular activity is trivial or that you should skip it, but that math club could easily have been another class or your job. The professor is in a position of power, and he should respect his position by not trying to compel you to work outside the system because it's convenient to him. Several of your peers may actually appreciate that you're the lone hold out even if they won't ever admit it.

I would have no problem with the prof offering extra sessions where no required material was covered. This could be extra practice working example problems or a Q&A session to clear up anything confusing from class. That being said, I think professors should be held to teaching the required stuff in the allotted time.

  • 21
    Excellent answer. The only point I'd add is that if a lecturer needs 30-45 minutes of extra time every week, perhaps she should find a way to schedule more class time for the subject in the long run! – aeismail Sep 11 '14 at 6:36
  • 84
    The only thing that I would add is that if a lecturer needs 30-45 minutes of extra time every week, they should teach less stuff. – JeffE Sep 11 '14 at 11:02
  • 5
    @aeismail, my experience is that US profs don't get a choice. Almost every college course is schedule for 3 hours per week of class time. There are a handful of 2, 4, and 5 hour courses, but moving something from 3 to 4 hours per week would be a major undertaking. It cannot be done one semester at the whim of a single professor. As JeffE alludes to, there's more or less some required course content for most classes in a department, and the prof better be able to get through it in the standard time. – Bill Barth Sep 11 '14 at 11:50
  • 5
    @Moriarty, I'd say that in the US, to first order, this is never done. For required courses, there's an expected syllabus with a small amount of leeway, and you just have to fit your material in that. A new course might have some options, but the default is 3 hours per week for 14 weeks. – Bill Barth Sep 11 '14 at 11:57
  • 5
    @Moriarty ...and the reason it's never done is that instructors rarely have the freedom to define how many credits their classes will be worth, which, at least at my university, (loosely) determines the number of contact hours. If you want approval for a one-term 5- or 6-hour course, you have to convince a whole stack of committees, all the way up the administrative ladder. Yes, it's possible, but it requires a fight, and most importantly, it requires advance notice to the studenfs. – JeffE Sep 12 '14 at 2:54
70

This is a strange situation: three out of the four answers so far express what is in my experience a very nonstandard view. Admittedly Bill Barth's answer is by far the most highly upvoted. But I think it is worth recording another opinion.

First, as for so many questions on this site, context matters. It sounds to me like the OP is an undergraduate at a North American college or university. My answer will apply to that.

At a university (and at all but the smallest colleges), scheduling classes is a major production. It is done at least a semester and often a year (or more) in advance, and a lot of time and effort go into crafting a schedule which makes the best possible use of limited resources: classrooms, peak hours, people's time, and so forth. Moreover the total amount of class time is also fixed in advance and has an official status as the number of credit hours for the course. The number of credit hours is meant to be correlated to the amount of material covered. In practice this means little in an absolute sense and one course can certainly be much more or less ambitious than another, but carries a meaning across different sections of the same course and within the course offerings of a given department.

Am I right in being outraged?

Outraged is a strong word, but the OP is right to disapprove of the practice and perfectly within his rights to object to it. I do not find the professor's request reasonable. In fact I find it very surprising that in an entire class of students, only one other student has an extra 30-45 minutes in their schedule on Friday afternoons at 1 pm: this is typically "peak class time". (I wonder if there is some missing context here: e.g. maybe the other students form a cohort who are all taking the same courses scheduled at the same time. That makes some difference, but not enough to change my answer.)

The OP has made his schedule for the entire semester in advance and has signed up for the class assuming that it will meet at a certain time, which was fixed by the registrar in advance. He has a legitimate conflict with staying an extra 30-45 minutes. This conflict is academic in nature and it involves students other than those taking the professor's course. (In my experience with academic culture, it is obnoxious to try to get someone else's academic event rescheduled because you want to change the schedule of your own academic event. It is in the nature of a university that all of its participants are engaged in multiple events. We schedule things well in advance precisely to avoid conflicts like this.) However, even without a specific academic conflict the OP should feel free to veto the request: if e.g. he has made a schedule where he leaves campus at 1 pm, that would be reason enough to object.

Is it not the professor's job to teach the necessary course material in the time allotted, as opposed to having students stay late for no credit?

Yes, it is! I agree precisely. Something is not adding up here: the course is a standard, required one for the major, so it has presumably been given many times before by other instructors and there is a de facto standard expectation for its content, as detailed in e.g. an official course description. Of course the instructor of a course should have some leeway in the choice of topics and even the intensity of the course....but not complete leeway. This instructor is proposing to increase the class time by about 25%: why is this necessary? If he is covering 25% more material than is standard, that's potentially problematic. If he takes 25% more time to cover the material than is standard, that is also problematic. Again some context is lacking, but as described the instructor seems to be having some serious problems "coloring between the lines". The OP should not have to adjust his schedule on account of this.

I honestly think that almost any higher up university official -- the department head, the registrar, a dean -- would be chagrined to hear about what the instructor is proposing. At least that's the case in the university culture I'm familiar with. If the OP has a faculty contact (in any department) he is comfortable talking informally with, I would recommend broaching the issue and seeing what the faculty member has to say.

  • 10
    An example of what "missing context" might make this seem less unreasonable (though still problematic to the OP): if e.g. a number of class sessions had to be canceled unexpectedly due to some special circumstances, and the professor is trying to make up missed time. – ff524 Sep 11 '14 at 5:24
  • 10
    @ff524 makes a good point. In the South, we tend to shut the whole city down if it snows, and I have certainly had makeup sessions for snow/ice days. But that doesn't appear to be the situation here. I've certainly had profs (usually junior) get excited about the material and try to cram some additional advanced topics in over what's usually taught, but I've never had one try to add time and slow down the pacing so that they could cover the traditional material and a more leisurely pace. – Bill Barth Sep 11 '14 at 11:55
  • 1
    A good reason to link the time table software to the lights and locks, so the lights go off at the end of the time the room has been booked for. – Ian Sep 12 '14 at 22:03
9

Courses and their timings will usually be organised so that students having to attend to multiple related courses can attend to all of them. Of course only the official time is organised that way, unofficial time can't be organised.

So what if some maths professor decides that his course on Friday from 11am to 11:50am should be an hour longer? Now the professor running the circuits class would be outraged if everyone comes late to his course.

  • 1
    How does this answer the question? – Tobias Kildetoft Sep 11 '14 at 10:50
  • 12
    @TobiasKildetoft: it answers it by posing a rhetorical question, the anticipated answer to which demonstrates that the circuit professor's behavior would be intolerable if repeated by others. What do you need to consider this a complete answer, a direct citation of the categorical imperative? ;-) – Steve Jessop Sep 11 '14 at 11:33
3

Every student pays tuition. My tuition is decided by the classes I take. Therefore, how I see it, I pay my teachers to teach me. This is their job. They are held to a certain standard. If a Professor is covering new material, scheduling tests, or giving out mandatory homework (that you might have an online turn-in deadline for, etc) in this 30-45 minutes after class has ended, you should absolutely be outraged.Perhaps discuss with your professor directly during office hours and explain why it isn't okay with you. I wouldn't have a problem emailing the head of his department, or whomever appropriate, about it either. Careful in starting a grudge-match with your professor though. And remember that your class room isn't a democracy. Majority doesn't rule when it comes to other students having no classes or obligations in the time after that class. If he's hosting study periods everyday after class that way, I'd just ask a friend for any helpful notes. Rehashing the material is good, even if you do have to miss it. Now it's just two study groups conflicting. But if he's introducing new materials, that's not okay.

1

Most of the answers I have seen here are assuming that the professor is saying he can't teach the material in the official time slot.

When I read the question it sounded like the professor was saying that he could teach this material in the normal manner but if the students had no commitments immediately afterward he could cover the material in more in depth.

For intsance:

  • In class coverage of textbook material
  • More example problems of the subject matter
  • Time to cover questions in class

If this is what the professor is doing then he is not being unreasonable in asking if the students have extra time. It shows he actually cares if his students are learning, which can't always be assumed in a college environment.

In this case I would suggest to the original poster that he see if he could arrange with the professor that he not cover any new material in the extra time period so he can be sure not to miss anything.

This would let anyone else in the class who might want to spend more time on the subject to take advantage of the extra instruction the professor is offering.

1

This question demonstrates that neither the students nor the instructor are familiar with scheduling regs at virtually every University in the US (and it sounds like the questioner is from a US school).

The professor does not have the authority to schedule classes beyond the allotted time. If the faculty member feels students need more time to digest the material, and is willing to stay longer, and the room is open, then the extra time MUST be

  1. Optional, with no new material presented
  2. remedial/review to help students digest the material that was covered 'too quickly' in class

My take on the whole thing is that professor is very understanding of students difficulty with the material and is making themselves available out of concern for student learning.

What the students and this student in particular wish to due once rules are followed is a personal choice.

0

I would say, if your professor is reasonable, he will listen to you if you bring it up with him, say something like "hey, I have other commitments after this class, and I'm missing them due to this class staying way longer than was promised on paper. Could you try to fit material into the time slot you were given? Because while I'm missing a club, in the future, you may have students who have other classes, or a job. Please consider this." Try to avoid accusatory language, framing the situation in a way that paints the professor in a negative light. Accusations tend to make most people behave defensive or even hostile, so try to have a polite conversation about the issue you have with his schedule keeping (or lack thereof), I would bring this up via email first, and if he doesn't respond, then I'd bring it up in person. If he responds negatively, I might make a formal complaint, depending on the severity. If a negative response is not bad enough to warrant a complaint, I'd talk to him in person, and communicate that you didn't appreciate the way he spoke to you over email, then go from there.

-4

Welcome to SE!

Am I right in being outraged?

No, I don't think so. The professor offered to spend some of his personal time to teach you something more in depth. He offered it and you declined it and that's it.

Is it not the professor's job to teach the necessary course material in the time allotted, as opposed to having students stay late for no credit?

Just look at it in a different way: He is helping you to learn and therefore you are replacing learning at home with learning in class (with the help of the professor). I still think it is a great offer.

Should I cave in and just not go to math club meetings?

We can't (and shouldn't) evaluate how important your math club meetings are. If you think they are more important than the better learning for your and your fellow students, go to your math club.

On another note: isn't it possible to change the time of the math club by half an hour or so?

  • 34
    Some other event attended by people, most of whom are not taking the course, should be rescheduled because one professor can't stick to the schedule made by the registrar in advance and implicitly ratified by every student who signed up for the course? This is not a very reasonable request. – Pete L. Clark Sep 11 '14 at 4:49
  • 4
    If the professor wanted to hold additional time in which he covered relevant, useful material that was not actually part of what was expected to be covered in the course and would not be covered on tests or otherwise factored into the course's grading, then it would be a generous offer of the professor's personal time. However, the professor being unable to fit the material that is required for the course, as determined by the department faculty, into the allotted time and trying to require students to stay extra time because he can't teach it at the correct pace is a different matter. – reirab Sep 15 '14 at 13:58
-9

Nobody's forcing you to stay in your seat. This is a university class, not prison. You are free to quietly pack up you material and walk out to attend to your other commitments.

You are responsible to cover the material you are missing. You can:

  1. talk to other students in your class to go over the material (this is actually a great way for the other student to reinforce their learning)
  2. see the professor during his regular office hours to go over the material
  3. see if you can schedule time with your prof outside of his office hours.
  4. learn it from the textbook on your own.

You don't have to make a big deal out of this situation. Just assert your rights to your professor's published time (office hours).

  • 8
    ok now, let's say the student is a type II diabetic in need of hemo-dialysis after his class. It's HIS responsibility to catch back on material covered OUTSIDE of the time the registrar gave? doesn't make ANY kind of sense.... – Patrice Sep 12 '14 at 23:30
  • 7
    I strongly disagree with the assertion that the student should be held responsible for items covered in this additional time. The student effectively signed a contract when he registered for the class with certain hours. The professor can't unilaterally change the terms now by adding additional times the student must attend or risk being penalized. If the instructor wants to review content in that time, fine. But new material shouldn't be introduced. – Bitmapped Sep 14 '14 at 0:07
  • 5
    Students should not be held responsible for material that the professor unilaterally decided to cover outside of the time allotted to the class by the university. At least at the university where I'm currently a graduate student, that would be a violation of university policy. And at any university, it's a violation of common sense and of the understanding of what students are signing up for. – reirab Sep 15 '14 at 13:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.