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Asking a professor to teach better

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( 4 months ago )

In my mathematics program, one of the qual prep courses is being taught by a professor who, put bluntly, is not putting in the effort.

He is essentially reading from the book (which I don’t particularly like but it’s a standard text so fine), but his notes were clearly made years ago and he doesn’t seem reviewed them before class. There are often mistakes, inconsistent notation, repetition of material, a dearth of examples (read examples x.xx to x.yy in the book), etc. I know part of this is that he has many administrative duties, but still. He seems to be aware he isn’t doing great.

Is there a way I can bring this up with him politely but firmly?

I am aware the above seems harsh. I am perhaps letting my frustration get in the way of asking a good question.

I certainly don’t want to give a stern lecture, that’s why I’m posting here. I would say I have built up a rapport with this professor, I’d say we like each other and I know he is capable of teaching well. On the other hand, I feel there aren’t questions I could legitimately ask. When the last thirty minutes of one class are the first thirty minutes of the next, what is there even for me to say?

Perhaps related, I am rather confident of my grasp of the material, which I’ve seen before, but many of the students are first years, who are of course also adjusting to graduate school so. I understand that ultimately learning is in the students but this is the first grad course.

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