General chatter - RANT: About my prof (not to do with weight loss)




dhvaya
02-08-2007, 06:47 PM
This is a vent with feedback request.

I take a difficult chemistry class. I work my butt off for this class because (a) it's hard and (b) I want to stay on top of the readings.

The professor expects us to READ AHEAD so we can come prepared to make the most of lecture. So, for instance, if he's going to teach Chapter 5 today, he expects us to have read Chapter 5 BEFORE lecture, including taking an online quiz. I keep up. I have lots of classes, but I manage to keep up.

And I answer in class. He throws out a lot of questions and I manage to answer them. Today, he spoke to me after lecture and said I should give other people a chance to respond.

OK, I'm hurt. I'm crushed, actually. I am not answering questions to dominate the class or stop other people from answering - I'm answering these questions to test my own pre-lecture understanding and to contribute to the lecture. He says that he wants me to answer SOME questions, not ALL. He wants to give everyone in class a chance - now, how on Earth am I to divine if anyone else plans on answering and only answer if I figure that no one else will?

I'm really hurt. This is considered to be a very popular class, taught by an extremely popular professor, and so, I take this very personally. I don't know how to respond to this request. I am REALLY hurt and hate being told "SHUT THE @#$% up!"


Tara D
02-08-2007, 07:06 PM
Well, I don't know if you'll like my opinion, but....here's just a little story. I was in a class where there was a girl who always whispered the answers under her breath...She wasn't saying them loud enough for the professor to hear, but people in the class could definitely hear them.

I have to say that it was always very annoying. Basically, no one around her had a chance to think about their own answers before we would hear her mumbling them. It compromised my education because it took away from considering my own answer without outside input.

I know it is a slightly different situation, but I think my point is the following: This girl was always so quick to pipe up and answer that it kept others from being able to make sure that they had developed an understanding of the material. It made it difficult to make sure that they were able to come up with the correct answer on their own. Some people may need a little more time to think about the answer, and hearing it so quickly from someone else can make their learning less effective.

I say, answer a couple questions each day straight out, but otherwise, answer them in your head to give others a chance to answer, because as you say, "answering these questions to test my own pre-lecture understanding and to contribute to the lecture" is important. If it's important to you, it's probably important to others to get this opportunity, too. You'll still know if your answer was right or not. Then, if you want to confirm your understanding more, or ask more questions, you can raise your hand and ask or talk to the professor individually after class or at office hours.

ennay
02-08-2007, 07:09 PM
Ummm.... he doesnt need to call on you either.

Seriously though, you shouldn't be crushed. It is actually a huge compliment. Believe me I have been in your shoes. The professor knows you know the material well, that is a really good thing. I doubt he is actually annoyed with you. Usually its more he fears the rest of the class may be coasting on your coat-tails. If they know they can rely on you to answer, they dont have to volunteer, or prepare.

You have made your good impression. Trust me for most professors that was a good impression. Sit where he can see you. Prepare as you have always prepared. When he asks a question, prepare the answer and lift your chin and make eyecontact with the prof if you can. This lets him know you are both ready to answer and honoring his request to hold back. If no one answers after a slightly awkward beat of time feel free to volunteer.

About 1/3 of the way into the class pick a question that really seems challenging and go ahead and raise your hand. Do again about 2/3 of the way through the class. Dont answer the easy questions. You've established that you know the easy questions.

Do this for a week and then speak to the professor again. Ask him for feedback. Say that you want to make sure you are giving an appropriate level of response so that you are BOTH assured that you have a solid grasp of the material.


cbmare
02-08-2007, 07:12 PM
I think you may be taking it too personally. You sound very determined and focused. He's probably not used to having someone in his class that is a motivated as you.

Try not answering. If nobody else answers, he may just call on you.

When I was taking a "sadistics" (statistics) class, I was the only person whose name he knew. He was constantly calling on me. I wasn't real thrilled about that.

Sit down. Have an apple and just pat yourself on the back and know that you are a motivated learner. Besides, this can be a time for you to be a little smug.

Smarty pants.

improbable
02-08-2007, 07:33 PM
Oh, I've been there so many, many times - in fact, at this point, after the first class or two if I notice I'm one of the only people talking, I'll actually go up to the teacher after class and just say "Hey, I know I talk a lot, please just let me know if its a problem." Probably 80% of the time its no problem, but about 20 percent of the time, at some point during the semester, I'll be told to give other people a chance - the nice thing about talking to people ahead of time is that they'll then talk to you privately later. Its not personal!

improbable
02-08-2007, 07:36 PM
Another little tip - if you just put one hand up, not your whole arm, after a few seconds of no one answering, the teacher can tell you know the answer and CAN call on you, but its not intimidating to anyone else and less embarrasing for you if you DON'T get called on. Take it as a compliment :)

Eves
02-08-2007, 09:04 PM
As someone who does teach university courses fairly regularly, it is annoying if only one person is answering. Sorry. But how can I gauge what the class as a whole knows if I only get a response from the same person over and over again.

I have had the same conversation with students, and it's not that we don't appreciate your answers, it's just that we are also there to serve other students. All of the advice given above is great, though. Think about it.

Nikaia
02-08-2007, 09:30 PM
I've got a semi-similar situation. I'm a ling student. Syntax 1 is a core class for the major. I took it last year, and failed on a technicality (still appealing, but in the meantime, I need the credit and the prereq) and am taking it again. I did very well in the course the last time I took it - the midterm assignment, when I turned in my write-up, it was 27 pages long, including hand-drawn illustrations, so probably about 23 or 24 pages of solid prose. Now that I'm taking it again, it's all stuff I already know. For this reason, I've perfected the art of subtly signaling my willingness to answer. As Improbable said, just put your hand up. Kind of like signaling at an auction. ;) I keep it there until Judith sees me, so I know she knows I'll answer, and then I'll wait. If nobody answers, she'll call on me, or if she's done that a few times already, she'll kind of prod the class, saying "Come on, someone I haven't already called on needs to answer this."

So while there may be another way for the prof to handle it, I would say also, be glad that he spoke to you privately about it, instead of telling you in lecture or saying "Can someone ELSE answer?" while you've got your hand up. That'd be even worse, IMO.

Just remember, everyone else needs to learn, too. You can answer in your head to test yourself. I often do.

dhvaya
02-08-2007, 09:32 PM
As someone who does teach university courses fairly regularly, it is annoying if only one person is answering. Sorry. But how can I gauge what the class as a whole knows if I only get a response from the same person over and over again.

I have had the same conversation with students, and it's not that we don't appreciate your answers, it's just that we are also there to serve other students. All of the advice given above is great, though. Think about it.



Is the annoyance at the student that answers? Because if yes, that's not fair to us. It's not as if we physically prevent other students from answering.

What would you expect people like me to do? Should I wait to see if anyone else answers and if no one else volunteers, respond? Would that be an effective solution to this issue? I would really like your feedback since you teach college courses.

Ah...Nikaia, your response and mine crossed. Actually, he did say can SOMEONE ELSE ANSWER? and GUESS WHAT? NO ONE DID, SO I PIPED UP AND HE SEEMED ANGRY. Was that fair to me? There were NO volunteers, so I replied...and he was still MAD AT ME!

improbable
02-08-2007, 10:18 PM
Not to sound harsh, and having been there myself, but frankly if the teacher had just specifically asked if anyone else could answer and you answered without his asking, even if no one else piped up, I can see that being frustrating. The point is that he was trying to call the rest of the class to task, he knew you knew the answer, you knew you knew the answer... Sometimes it helps to just write down the answers and wait and see if you're right, it gives other people a chance to answer, and still keeps you focused enough to keep from zoning out and missing the meat of the lesson. Works for me, anyway. My apologies if I came off too bluntly - I ended up in tears a few times before realizing that it was just about the teacher wanting to create the best learning environment for everyone, whether or not the lazy bums deserve it!

dhvaya
02-08-2007, 10:38 PM
Improbable, maybe I didn't explain it well.

He asked for someone else to answer...and we WAITED. I swear we did. BUT, no one answered for almost 2 minutes close, he was scanning the class, our eyes met and I piped up. I SWEAR I did not speak up until almost a couple of minutes had gone by!

AND, since he seemed annoyed, I did not speak up for the rest of the session. But he still spoke to me after lecture. Don't know - maybe I'm just dyslexic when it comes to interpersonal communication.

Eves
02-08-2007, 10:45 PM
Is the annoyance at the student that answers? Because if yes, that's not fair to us. It's not as if we physically prevent other students from answering.



Yes you are. Unless your prof is going for some sort of discussion, then the person who immediately answers silences the rest of the class. What would the next person say "uh...I agree". This is an undergrad chem class, I would think that there is very little in the way of discussion.

Some professors ask questions as a way to make sure the students are doing their work. While I don't agree with this method, I know some who swear by it and having one person who answers every question screws this up. Like I said, I don't agree with it, but some professors do. It may that yours does as well.

Just give it a second. Nod at the professor if you know the answer. Trust me, he knows that you're dying to answer: you're staring intently at him when he asks a question. If no one answers, he'll pick you.

dhvaya
02-08-2007, 11:00 PM
Archy, one of the things he said was YOU DON'T HAVE TO IMPRESS ME! That kinda bummed me out a bit - almost as if I was answering his questions and keeping up with his readings just to impress him.

What, in teacher-speak, did he really mean? Interpret, please! :)

JayEll
02-08-2007, 11:08 PM
Hate to sound like an old fart here, ;) but when I was in school, you know, back before the earth cooled, we raised our hands. We never just blurted out the answer. In fact, last time I was in school, about ten years ago (much after the earth cooled), I took one class where at the beginning of the first session, the teacher told us all that we were NOT to just pipe up in class, but to raise our hands. I was surprised that that has to be said, but evidently it does.

Don't answer the questions. Just sit there. It's not a competition to see who's the smartest. YOU know that you know the answer, and no doubt by now the teacher knows that you know the answer. So, sit there and enjoy that and let the others stew or work it out or whatever they do. It's not about you.

Cheers!
Jay

Eves
02-08-2007, 11:15 PM
Archy, one of the things he said was YOU DON'T HAVE TO IMPRESS ME! That kinda bummed me out a bit - almost as if I was answering his questions and keeping up with his readings just to impress him.

What, in teacher-speak, did he really mean? Interpret, please! :)

Literally, it means "I'm an idiot that doesn't know how to handle students" or "Look, I know I'm impressive, and all the girls love me. But really sweetie, you're not my type. I mean, I know you wake up at 6 am thinking about my massive brain and all..."

It took me like 5 years in academia to figure that out. Don't feel bad at all.

dhvaya
02-08-2007, 11:20 PM
LMAO. Waking up thinking of my massive brain, indeed! Hehehehe..:dizzy:

Actually, he IS kinda cute... :D ... but I don't wake up thinking of him or answer questions to impress him!

OK, I now know to shut up and not answer until I'm spoken to.

Thanks, archy, I was feeling pretty lousy up until now! :D