Feedback on being a better professor (ridiculously long) (Read 327 times)


Am I doing this right?

    Got a call from the Dean today. There's a parent involved and I'm gettting some heat. Good times.

     

     

    As a parent of a college-bound freshman, I can't imagine a situation where I would feel a need to get involved.  As I've told my son, I'm available to him for as much free advice as he can handle Wink , but I don't ever see a need to contact a teacher/professor/school directly about a grade, let alone +/- 2.5 points here or there over the course of a semester.  It's laughable.  In 13+ years the idea has never crossed my mind.

     

    My response has always been "Sounds like you need to work a little harder."

     

    I don't know you, the school, or the student, but the whole situation kinda pisses me off.  I hope you stick to your guns.

    No excuses....

      Tell her that if she had put for as much effort studying for the exam as she did writing that email trying to game the system, she would have gotten another point or two and earned her A.

      Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.

      spinach


        Congratulations on getting tenure.  That is a big burden off your shoulders.  I teach math and fortunately I don't have too many students like the one you mention.  I did have an interesting case this semester however.  I was teaching an analysis class that is required for all math majors.  One student showed up twice in January and then I didn't see him again and so  I assumed he dropped the course.  Then he showed up the last week of classes asking me what he could do so that he would graduate.  At that point, he had missed both tests and did none of the assignments in the course. The only thing he could have done to graduate this month would have been to build a time machine.  He was mad but understood that he screwed up.  No complaints to the dean.  I think the dean would have laughed him out of his office.

         

        I have noticed the students who do complain the most and are the biggest pain the ass are the ones who are on the A/B border.  They try to bully you into giving them the better grade.  I just stand firm and fortunately the administration at my school do a good job backing up the faculty.  I much prefer the students who are just barely passing the course and then they are quite happy and celebratory about getting a D and then they will never have to take another math class.  I guess that is one advantage of my discipline.


        Queen of 3rd Place

          Suspicions confirmed, dad is an MD. Left a voicemail for the dean with a thinly-veiled complaint ("I hope we can resolve this so that I do not have to take further action"). Sometimes it has seemed to me that the kids of the MDs seem to think there's an MD gene that they've inherited. Maybe the parents feel the same way.

           

          Part of me want to roll my eyes around the back of my skull. Don't worry honey, daddy's lawyer will take care of it. OTOH, I do feel a little bad for the students, I know a lot of them are getting pressure from the parents.

          Ex runner


          A Dance with Monkeys

            Entitled parents -> entitled children


            A Dance with Monkeys

              I wonder if the MD the student cheated with is the same MD who raised him...that would probably make it personal for Daddy too...you gave Daddy a poor grade too...


              A Dance with Monkeys

                I erred in favor of the student, adding 10 points to my subjective opinion. So while you would argue for 90.5 points, my subjective opinion was that you deserved 78 points. Awarding you 88 points is more than generous.

                 

                This is still the best!


                Needs more cowbell!

                  One thing is for certain, I absolutely LOATHED group projects when the instructor randomly assigned groups.  In those instances I always ended up in a group where at least 1/4 didn't pull their weight and my grade suffered (and 9 times out of 10 the slacker(s) was/were a "traditional" student living on campus and attending college on their parents' dime, who couldn't be bothered to show up for work sessions ON CAMPUS, even though those of us living 30-60 minutes away were reliably there and on-time, too).  My guess is the letter writer is one of those people I would have wanted to punch in the junk.  I don't want a slacker MD caring for me.

                   

                  This child (any college student who runs to mommy and daddy to fight their battles is not an adult) is very out of touch.  I wouldn't have expected my parents to go to bat for me and would have been humiliated had they done so.

                  I shoot pretty things! ~

                  '14 Goals:

                  • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                  • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


                  A Dance with Monkeys

                    I don't want an entitled MD caring for me.

                     

                    This too


                    Feeling the growl again

                      Entitled parents -> entitled children

                      .

                      .

                      .

                       

                      I wonder if the MD the student cheated with is the same MD who raised him...that would probably make it personal for Daddy too...you gave Daddy a poor grade too...

                       

                      +1 and +1.

                       

                      These people also make the worst type of doctor.

                       

                      I knew a guy in undergrad, not the smartest guy I ever knew.  Decidedly average, actually.  Not what you would call med school material.  But he was passionate about being a doctor.  He spent all his free time volunteering at the hospital and a clinic.  He made up for his lack of raw IQ through sheer work ethic.  It was not unusual for him to put 24+ hours of studying into a single exam.  He's now an OB/GYN, and I'm sure a damn good one.  If anyone could have benefitted by trying to bully a few grades through the course of his education, it was him.  But he never did.

                      "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                       

                        Suspicions confirmed, dad is an MD. Left a voicemail for the dean with a thinly-veiled complaint ("I hope we can resolve this so that I do not have to take further action"). Sometimes it has seemed to me that the kids of the MDs seem to think there's an MD gene that they've inherited. Maybe the parents feel the same way.

                         

                        Part of me want to roll my eyes around the back of my skull. Don't worry honey, daddy's lawyer will take care of it. OTOH, I do feel a little bad for the students, I know a lot of them are getting pressure from the parents.

                         

                        This is enraging. For me, this is an issue of equity - what about all of the students who might like their grades re-evaluated but who do not have rich and powerful parents to call the university on their behalf?  An ideal grading system is premised upon fairness, and once mom and dad get involved the system that goes out the window!  No student should have an advantage that is not available to every other student in the class.


                        A Dance with Monkeys

                          Now wait a cotton picking minute here.


                          She said MD. A doc. Not somebody who is actually rich or powerful. Just a wannabe.


                          Best Present Ever

                             

                            I have noticed the students who do complain the most and are the biggest pain the ass are the ones who are on the A/B border.  They try to bully you into giving them the better grade.  

                             

                            My favorite was the student who got an A- but decided she deserved a 100 for her participation grade because she talks a lot in class (I gave her a 94 -- the extra points would have pushed her to an A).  When I wouldn't change from the grade I gave her to the grade she wanted, she emailed the associate dean to say that I made an "error" and wouldn't correct my "error."


                            Queen of 3rd Place

                              Argh!!!! There must be something in the water.

                               

                              Today's emails:

                              1) From a student who got 33 on the final. She needed 66 to pass: "you said I had a chance of passing"...and: "I just really dont think that is fair. I busted myself to try to pass the class and now since I failed your class I cant get my diploma" 

                               

                              2) A student who, along with an accomplice, was caught cheating twice and formally referred to the dean (same thing happened to the two of them in Chemistry), both of them ended up failing: "is there anyway you can let us to retake any of the exams"

                               

                              On the other hand: 

                              "You smile more than any other professor I've had when you teach.  You seemed happy to be there and it made me happy to be there too. Providing lecture slides and study guides was awesome.  Neither I nor anybody else can blame our poor grades on anything other than our own efforts. Even with all the misconduct you never changed your attitude or demeanor.  I've seen professors turn on a class for far less and hold it against them for the rest of the semester."

                               

                              OK. I am done with this. Summer is beckoning and there are a lot of miles to be run over the next several weeks. 

                              Ex runner

                                Teaching is tough because it takes personal qualities, but in the end, you can't take the results personally. These students are trying to use your best qualities -- the fact that you put yourself humbly and fully into your teaching -- to manipulate you for their own interest. These emails are coming from a completely different place than your own giving as a teacher.

                                 

                                How to react?

                                 

                                In the end, I think as always you have to think of the student -- what sort of reply would be best for their education and development? These kids need to learn now more than ever that this sort of emotional manipulation is transparent and ugly, and that there are people -- professionals -- who will not respond to it.

                                 

                                Finally, I think it's important to remember that kids these days are acting like this because the economy is really bad and they have legitimate fears about employment, competition, etc. It's fear that's driving these emails. And this same fear may be causing them to do worse than they should in their studies, as we all know that fear is counter-productive to good clear thinking. This isn't an excuse for this behavior, but it is a reason for it -- and perhaps an opening for understanding that this hostility is not about you as a professor but about their own fears for the future.