I thought it best not to post this until a couple of weeks after my grades got posted, lest the professor in question do a search and find my blog. I can’t say I honestly care anymore, so I’m posting it. Naturally, names have been changed.
My first semester of graduate school is over (except for those two papers I have yet to complete). Once those are done, I have a week before the next semester starts, at which point I will stop having a life once again, only this time I’m prepared, lol.
The funny thing about learning how to teach is that I’m constantly checking the teaching methods of my instructors. I took two classes this semester: one instructor was awesome (insightful, encouraging, engaging, the whole nine yards), while my other instructor was… worthy of the anonymous scathing review I just left for him (they could not have been more different. This semester was weird). It went something like this:
my professor grading my papers
What are the instructor’s main strengths?
[something about how he got along with another student with a similar upbringing, go figure]
How could the instructor improve?
He should pour himself a stiff drink and read my “additional comments.”
-He said “friggin a” on the second day of class after becoming frustrated by the questions asked by students (time stamp: between 2:23:40-2:25:13). The student he said this to was visibly embarrassed. Toward the end of the semester, that student told me that he was still reticent to speak in this class because of that experience, even though two and a half months had passed since then.
-He did not leave time for students to formulate and ask questions.
-He often spent the first 30-45 minutes of class monologuing about the reading while referring to a PowerPoint presentation, and reviewed the readings almost verbatim. This is particularly ironic since the necessity of student participation in classroom discussion was often a topic. We were taught through monologue that we should not monologue a lesson to our students, since this is not conducive to learning.
-On one occasion, he emailed students 25 minutes before class was scheduled to start that he could not attend, saying he would record the lecture for us to view later. He sent an email four days later that the lecture was on the website, however it was not. Two students mentioned that they could not find the recorded lecture on the website two days before class; two more mentioned that they had the same difficulty the day before class, all without response from the professor. It was not until a student suggested, during class, that he may have uploaded it for private viewing rather than public viewing that he discovered that was the problem. He blamed the changes made to the online platform.
-Students’ group contributions were cut short and treated as unimportant. During a week 8 class (time stamp: between 2hr and 2hr8min), we were told to keep it short, and pretend we were calling into a radio show. He said, “You got 30 seconds!” He blamed the length of the class.
-Turning in papers early was impossible to do without being punished. The class before the due date, we always found a problem with the directions that demanded that I alter my paper and resubmit it. Inept Instructor marked me down in one instance when he said he would not due to conflicting instructions (when I reminded him, he said he would fix it–three weeks later I sent him an email reminding him that he said he would do this. Only then did my grade reflect the changes he said he would make weeks prior). He said he needed to check his rubric to see how many points he allots to each portion of the paper in question, then correct his mistake. The second time there were problems with a paper I handed in early, I resubmitted the paper with corrections, but he graded the wrong one, and asked me to fix problems I had already fixed (and handed in) a week prior. He blamed the class for not reading instructions closely enough, ignoring the fact that instructions for the various parts of assignments were often found in different documents, and just as often, didn’t match what the other documents’ instructions.
-He incorrectly pointed out a problem with my APA formatting on a paper (and docked me for it). When I emailed him pointing out the error, his reply was, “That’s awesome.” He restored one point to my paper, bringing it from an A- to an A. I heard from another student in the class that he mistakenly docked her for the same non-issue, and recommended that she bring it to his attention. I’m concerned about how many other students he may have wrongly docked for this same issue, and how it affected their grades. Although he changed my grade, he never admitted there was a problem, and dodged any blame for his mistake.
-He sent an email to the class reminding us that there would be no class on Labor Day, which would have been very considerate if he had not sent it at 8:35pm on Labor Day.
-He sent curt emails to the students for not handing in their papers on time, only to discover that he could not receive emails from non-USC email addresses. He blamed his IT department, and took no credit for the mistake. If a student were to encounter a problem like this, he would be penalized for not checking our systems beforehand to avoid this problem (we are told, for example, that it is the students’ responsibility to check our cameras and audio setup for problems well before class to deal with any potential issues because if a technical problem keeps us from being in class, we are punished by being considered absent, and receive no credit for that day’s class time).
During the last class, when a student asked where the class evaluation form could be found, Inept Instructor said he had no idea. He blamed the online platform format for hiding it. The professor for my other class not only knew where it was, but on the last day of class, directed us to it and reminded us to fill it out.
thank you, interwebz, for reading my mind
-I write this the day after the last class: 1/3 of my assignments remain ungraded. In addition, none of my class participation points have been posted. If I have received credit for going to class, I have yet to see evidence of it in the grades section of the online platform. Of all the forum postings, papers, and class time scores (not counting the final paper, for which the due date has not yet passed), only seven of the 23 scores possible (30%) for this class have been graded and put on the online platform. When a student asked Inept Instructor a month ago if he would be putting more of our grades up, Inept Instructor replied, “I think you’ve figured it out…I’m slow 🙂 Your analysis papers are graded and posted. I will be assigning individual forum posting and class participation grades.” The latter statement, at least, has proven to be untrue. I wonder what he thinks the purpose of the “grades” section of the online platform is, if not to PUT OUR GRADES UP.
One running theme in Inept Instructor’s teaching style was a complete lack of accountability on his part. Though all these mistakes, both big and small, were clearly Inept Instructor’s fault, not only did he take zero credit for any of them, but the only apology Inept Instructor ever offered was when he apologized for not being able to make it to class. Of course, he voiced this apology to his camera when he recorded the make-up class, effectively eliminating our ability to respond to him as a group, and sapping the apology of any authenticity.
I did not find Inept Instructor to be a motivating, interesting, or well-organized instructor. He did not seem to grasp the concept that, “Just because you’re talking doesn’t mean your students are learning.” I learned more about what NOT to do in a classroom from watching Inept Instructor than I did from our readings and discussions. Thanks for a valuable learning experience, Inept Instructor.