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I wrote a final exam in a course, in which the professor said that he would not test our memory and give all the needed formulae, so I didn't concentrate on memorizing them.

Would it be appropriate to politely send the professor an email with some feedback / opinion about this situation? And if this would be appropriate, what would be the best way to express this opinion as neutrally and politely as possible? So that the professor wouldn't think that I'm mad at him or something like that.

  • Voting to close. This is almost identical to a question you asked earlier today: academia.stackexchange.com/q/88431/32436. Please close one of your questions; feel free to edit the one you keep. – aparente001 Apr 22 '17 at 18:25
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    I deleted the other one. It pertained to this issue, but it wasn't quite the same. – sequence Apr 22 '17 at 18:29
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    Appropriate? At my university, student feedback on learning and teaching is practically mandatory. – astronat Apr 22 '17 at 20:39
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    Students complain about assignments and exams all the time, and professors are quite used to this form of feedback. If enough of you complain, this feedback may be taken into consideration. – Alexey B. Apr 24 '17 at 18:18
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The personalities of professors vary wildly, so you may want to first consider if your professor would be open to feedback about the exam. Also, make sure that you aren't the only or one of a few students who made such mistakes. For instance, is it possible that you missed some content or communication about the exam? If you are on the same page as others, you have a stronger case.

If you feel like giving feedback is beneficial, make sure that you express it constructively and professionally. Some professors may dismiss feedback that simply comes across as "This wasn't fair." For instance, explaining that "many students who studied were confused by some of the communication about how to approach the exam. Is it possible to have a review sheet provided for the next exam?" Or "I studied and followed instructions on the exam, but am confused about how I missed some things that were discussed before the exam. Can you help me understand where I went wrong or how to better prepare next time?" This is less confrontational and helps open a difficult dialogue.

I hope this helps!

  • Good answer. Sometimes (I do not imply that this is the case here) students misinterpret what has been communicated by the professor, and this can happen for many reasons. I wonder if the professor gave a list of topics for examination. – PsySp Apr 22 '17 at 22:23
  • @PsySp I've double-checked - he certainly said that all the needed formulae would be given. But my main problem is that I felt like an accountant on a physics exam. – sequence Apr 22 '17 at 22:26
  • @sequence I do not understand: Was there a question that needed some formulas to solve and that formula was not given? "I felt like an accountant": While I understand what you mean, each instructor has her/his own style of examining. – PsySp Apr 22 '17 at 22:30
  • @PsySp Yes, there was such a question. – sequence Apr 22 '17 at 22:40
  • And there you have the ambiguity: "All needed formulae…". Does this include, e.g., x^2 >=0, 1+1=2? Surely not, but probably you do not refer to these formulae. It may just be that you and your instructor drew the line between "common knowledge" and "formula that needs to be given" at different places… – Dirk Apr 23 '17 at 18:37
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Would it be appropriate to politely send the professor an email with some feedback / opinion about this situation?

Sending feedback may be OK, but sending your opinion, on the other hand, may not be welcomed. (Well, it is not helpful you both you and the instructor and will almost surely read as a complaint…)

As for most question that ask for "how to give feedback on…" the most important part of the answer is

Respect basic feedback rules.

Some of these are: Stick to facts, not opinions. Describe your experiences, but don't judge the other's behavior. Use "I" and "me" more than "you".

  • That's exactly how I did. No complaining tone, and not a single "you", except where I praised his course and his teaching. – sequence Apr 25 '17 at 6:15

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