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What should a student do about a professor who uses class time poorly?

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Mike Franklin

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( 5 months ago )


One of my professors is quite enthusiastic about teaching the subject. He often derives from the main content and gets lost in details vastly beside or beyond the matter at hand - which is interesting, though not immediately helpful.

Effectively, this means that he regularly fails to complete the day's chapter. To compensate, he always overruns on time (15 minutes are not unusual at all).

Despite that, he failed to finish several chapters that (according to him) were intended to be taught (and indeed have been in the year before), and did not discuss or even provide solutions to previous homework due to lack of time in class.

I'm looking for advice how to deal with this situation. How can we make him stick to relevant content?

My fear is that the students will a) lack knowledge from missing several chapters, leading to future problems in subsequent courses and b) have worse conditions to succeed in this course's exam, as they lack relevant information and experience.

I'm baffled how he is able to continue like this - he clearly noticed the problem and also apologized to the students about it several times, but did not yet change his habits at all.

As I have already talked to him about other problems before, which he is attempting to fix now, I do not want to "complain" to him again if possible. I'm also a bit unsure what that would accomplish, seeing that he appears to be completely unable to keep his lectures on point.

If the students were to talk to the department head, is he likely to take action, or is this rather within the professors individual judgement? If they do, I'm clueless to imagine how he would take it.

Regarding the missing homework solutions, I considered requesting written solutions to the tasks we failed to look at in class. However, this kind of exercise does not benefit from just solutions and instead requires explanations.

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NeelKamal Jha

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( 5 months ago )

I would encourage you to view this not as poor teaching style, necessarily, but as a particular teaching style which may not suit you.

You should not take for granted the fact that this teacher actually seems to care about the material and be excited about it. That is a great opportunity for you to learn and you should take advantage of it if you can. Ask questions, try to gain some of this person's intuition and insight into the topic - you are probably paying for access to this professor, and this is a way to learn things you cannot learn from the book.

You should describe the teaching style in any reviews you submit about the course or professor. Some students would love the type of course you describe, and some (such as yourself) will not find that it meets their needs. This is the proper way to give feedback. Complaining to the administration will probably not be effective because the professor is not doing anything wrong (except the minor offense of running classes too long), just adopting a particular teaching style.

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