Maybe I'm just frustrated and nothing can really be done (or nothing that will affect me). But anyway...

I'm taking an upper level course (an elective directly related to my major of Computer Science) and the professor has been horrible. Lucky for me, I came in with a pretty solid knowledge of the subject. My friends (and group mates for that class) didn't have this and I have explained much of the material to them. The professor has to stick to his notes and while he "prepares" for the class, it often feels like its the first time he's actually thoroughly reading the material (despite having taught the class before!)

Our quizzes so far have been from an online reference source and our professor admits that. Our projects have been from another school's website for an equivalent course. Which okay, it can be hard to come up with projects (though the instructions are horrible and the guy seems clueless when he is explaining them to us). We recently had our midterm. Considering the years of experience I have in this subject, it should have been a cake walk. It was not. And it was also taken from the same source as the projects.

Now i'm not complaining about a bad grade (and it was even open note/book, which didn't actually help any for honest students). I actually don't know my grade yet, but I came out of that test surprised at how hard it was for tricky, dumb reasons. But that isn't even entirely the point. Today in class, he goes over the exam. On the questions I found most difficult, he says something along the lines of "I haven't got this working, maybe you guys could help me out?" Murmurs rippled through the class. It wasn't just him trying to engage the class in working out a solution together, he could not get his code to work.

I am not the only one who knows where the solutions are on the other school's site. My professor had shared his attempt with the class asking for anyone to give it a try to see if they can get it to work. I look at the solution and compare it to his code. They are practically the same, except that my professor had attempted to get things working by changing a few things that really made no difference.

The question said to assume that we had a resource (a javascript framework). I included this framework (which was not included in the solution) and his code worked. This should have been an obvious thing (I think) or at least something he should have figured out prior to giving us the exam. This framework, by the way, has not been taught in class and we have not been allowed to use any framework in our projects thus far.

I've bombed tests before and this test is only 10% of my grade, so my grade is not why i'm complaining. Its what I have explained prior combined with the high likelihood of cheating from those previously mentioned solutions. The open note/book test included the use of digital books - on laptops. He never walked around and there we no TAs in the room to monitor people, he only asked for everyone to put their device in airplane mode. I could see the guy next to me googling stuff.

I have had some bad teachers over my time at Uni - mostly just boring, can't convey information well, long/super hard assignments, etc. But overall, they have been fair courses. The sum of everything this professor is doing is just beyond frustrating.

Should I just suffer through this guy and move on with my life (only 1 semester left) or should I make a fuss about this?

  • 10
    This is a rant, not a question. – Santiago Canez Mar 15 '16 at 2:32
  • @SantiagoCanez I had to reload the page when posting, it appeared to have saved the post but it cut off the end. I fixed it. – forpony Mar 15 '16 at 2:34
  • 1
    "I haven't got this working, maybe you guys could help me out? So, did you help him out? – scaaahu Mar 15 '16 at 3:12
  • If the lecturer is as bad as you say he is and I have only read one side of the story then lots of people will fail horribly and then he will scale the grades up to avoid getting in trouble with the oberstumfurher . – Autistic Mar 16 '16 at 10:50
  • In my opinion, yes please make a professional fuss (a formal letter with specific detailed evidence, not a rant). There is no faster way to weed out totally incompetent teachers that do not even care to prevent cheating. – user21820 May 5 '18 at 11:06

You asked the question "What should I do". I cannot answer that, as you have given no more information about your situation (Is it a required course? Is this course otherwise important for you?).

I think there are two separate issues. The first one is that the professor is not as well prepared as he should be, and it would be perfectly within your rights to invoke a process around academic grievances (or whatever it is called in your institution) when you have evidence that the professors behavior affects your learning or your grades. Clearly, you should raise this with the professor first and only escalate to the next steps (head of department, dean etc) when no resolution could be found.

I suspect that the second issue is that this professor should not have taught this course in the first place. It all sounds like he/she has no experience at all with the material of the course, and if "upper-level" course means a course that is already close to some area of active research, then this course is perhaps completely outside the research area of the professor. In that case any feedback to the department could help them to re-consider teaching allocation next year.

| improve this answer | |

You've mentioned your primary concern is not grade. In that case, the most important thing you can do is leave a candid review at the end of the semester. Apart fro that, be grateful your past experience let you pass the class (in spite of klutzy teacher), and move on. If he get enough poor reviews, he will either do some self-analysis, or get some training, or realize that teaching is not his strength. Or maybe he won't. But that is the most you can do as a student.

| improve this answer | |

Education is a very important resource and I'm glad you're concerned in getting your moneys worth from this course and more specifically the aforementioned teacher.

While I cannot completely understand your grievance (I come from a completely different field) I do see a similarity in dealing with difficult people in the first place. What I would suggest is talking to your professor and sharing some of your concerns, I'm not telling you to go up and flat out tell him he's doing something wrong but perhaps give it a more suggestive tone and phrase your concerns in the form of questions. Remember a teacher can learn from his students too.

If all else fails and your teacher continues to show his incompetency then I suggest reporting this to the proper authority, whether that be the department in question or other staff related to administration. Remember to be respectful when voicing your concern.

| improve this answer | |

In the same way that a strong teacher can get a weak student, a strong student can get a weak teacher. However, it seems that the student in the latter situation is at a disadvantage when compared to the teacher in the former situation.

  1. Students pay the school to get good teachers, but teachers do not pay the school to get good students.

  2. Teachers are paid to help the students get stronger, but students are not paid to help the teacher get stronger.

  3. Weak students fail the course, but weak teachers do not fail the course.

Teachers are expected to be stronger than their students, and not the other way around. I believe that you have the right to "make a fuss about this" but I am not so sure if you have the obligation.

When I started as a teacher, I had no experience and so I made a lot of mistakes, just like the teacher you describe. If the teacher is a beginner to the course (that is, has taught it before only once), I suggest that you be lenient and "cut him/her some slack." But if the teacher has taught this same course many times, you might want to alert the administration, either through a student evaluation or (for extreme cases) through a signed letter (in which case, you'll need strong evidence of incompetency).

| improve this answer | |

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