Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Weigh In

This week I lost another pound and change. It's a nice chunk of change, amounting to between a quarter and a half pound. That made me feel some better. In any case, that brings my total weight loss to 7 pounds for the year. I'm sticking with the whole numbers thing, so I have a pretty nice head start on next week's weight loss.

What do you think of a psych teacher who before starting a test, discovers she does not have enough papers for everyone. So she has to leave the room to go across the hall to the copier. She cannot stand cheating, so she makes a big deal out of the fact that the answers to the test are on her desk. (We would not have known if she had not said). She assigns one person to be in charge to make sure that we don't 'rush' her desk as soon as she is gone. She also cautions us that she is leaving her purse. She then makes a big deal about having us all close our eyes so that she can select someone to 'spy' and report back to her privately about our behavior while she's out of the room. Only then does she leave the room.

We sit there silently. I sit at a table with two other students. I don't want to compare us to anybody else, because I don't know the rest of them as well as I do Erin and Joe. I can tell you that Erin and Joe are workers. They take college very seriously. We looked at each other. Joe leaned forward and whispered 'Nucking Futs is what she is.' One of the young men behind us said, sarcastically, 'Oh. I wonder if anyone is going to rush to her desk...' and I leaned back in my chair and said, 'Probably not, but I'm going to tell her that you tried, and we all stopped you, just for grins and chuckles.' Wide-eyed he said, 'No, don't. She won't get that it is a joke.'

The teacher came back and questioned us. Satisfied, she began handing out the tests. She gave us a lecture on cheating. She told us all to 'hunker over our papers'. She told us to put our arms up to cover our papers. I'm sorry. At that point, she lost me. I made up my mind. I am not a child. I would not cheat. She is at the front of the small class (maybe 20 students) and she knows full well who is keeping their eyes on their own paper. I know Joe and I know Erin well enough. They would not cheat. I did not hunker over my paper. I finished it, very careful to keep my own eyes on my own paper. I turned the papers over, and sat quietly with my hands folded, studying the world map posted to my left, studying Australia. Pondering Brisbane, and Sydney, and Adelaide, and the vast expanses of Queensland where massive cattle stations are, daydreaming about the day when I will see the country with my own eyes. Several times, the teacher bellowed 'SOME of you are not hunkering over your papers!' A couple times, she looked at me, and I looked squarely back at her.

I do not like this teacher. In all my other classes, you know exactly what you have to do to get an A. Exactly. However, this teacher changes the rules constantly. She asked how neurotransmitters work. A group in front of us gave their answer, and she criticized it, saying it did not provide enough detail. She asked our group, and I began to answer. She stopped me, rolling her eyes. "That's the long version," she said. I replied, "You know, I'm can't tell where your fine line is." At another point, she criticized Joe's answer, because she had not given that information in class. It was in our reading assignment. He was right, mind you. I listened incredulously. We're being penalized for reading the assignment? When it came time for that test yesterday, I studied our notes primarily, since that was how she'd been running the class up to that point. She was the one telling us what was important, and what was not. The test yesterday was at least 25% based on what was in the book, things that we had not even discussed in class. I think that I did alright, but after we handed in our papers, Erin whispered, "I'm so screwed. I studied our notes." I whispered back, "At lot of it, you could infer, if you just puzzled it out. I'll bet you did better than you think. Don't worry yet."

At my next class, I ran into my advisor. She'd been invaluable to me in the beginning and helped me out a lot. She even accepted me into one of her classes even though it was, technically, full. She asked me how it was going, and I told her how much I loved school, that I hadn't expected to enjoy it. She was glad to hear it, and asked questions about my classes. I told her that, really, it is easy to be a good student. The syllabus tells you what you need to do, and once you 'learn' the teacher, you know what they expect, and you do the work accordingly. I said the only class that was a challenge was psych, that I had not been able to determine what the teacher expected, that those expectations seemed to change daily. I don't want to make the instructor mad by challenging her directly, so I wasn't sure how to handle the situation. She said, "It's ------ ---------, isn't it?" Surprised I said, "Yes." She did not gossip or tell any tales out of class. It was not like that, but simply based on the fact that she could immediately identify the teacher leads me to believe that there have been complaints before. She told me that I should challenge the teacher, that everyone should. And if the problems in class persist, we should make an appointment to speak with the head of the department. She gave me his name.

I don't know what I will do yet. Still it's nice to know how problems like this should be handled.


Mrs.Spit said...

At my old University, there was a questionnaire done on the profs and the classes each semester, and you could access the last 5 years worth, so you could look up your would be profs.

You may also find, as you spend time around campus, you get a real sense of who to avoid and who is good.

I'm sorry. She sounds like a real pain.

Karen said...

Her "teaching style" seems to be very odd, to say the least. I would keep a private journal and note the dates and all the inconsistencies, as well as the "odd" behaviors, that have occurred. You might need this information at the end of the semester when you speak to the head of the department. In the meantime, keep you antenna raised on this woman, but be careful what you say to the other students.

Good luck! I think that the most ironic part of this whole thing is that this individual is a professor in PSYCHOLOGY!

Mary Paddock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Paddock said...

I was a psychology major in college. I had a wide variety of psych profs, some I liked, some I didn't. None of them were as bad as the one you're writing about.

When the evals come out at the end of the semester, you not only need to make sure to state your complaints, you should have a conversation with the head of the department.

Karen said...

For some reason, even while I was making my bed today, I couldn't stop thinking about your post and this teacher. One word comes to mind:


Kelly said...

Always a pain to have a prof like that. Yes..that's what evaluations are for. And I would say something to the dept. head if it doesn't get any better (which it sounds like it won't from what your advisor said).

Mikey said...

That's such a bizarre way of teaching. Did she really think you all would rush her desk? *shaking head*
I would definitely challenge her, especially if the student is right and she's wrong.
Your college adventures are highly interesting!

A Novel Woman said...

A nut is right. But it sounds like you got excellent advice. Challenge her when necessary, especially if you have backup in the class, then file a review at the end of the semester.

Bob said...

Law of averages says you will have a small percentage of teachers like this. I can remember some realy doozies, esp. from law school. I think it has to do with the whole tenure thing and it's hard to get rid of them.

BUSH BABE said...

I honestly thought she might have been 'testing' everyone as a sort of psychological game? Freaky. I wonder if she reads this blog?

Debby said...

I suppose that it's possible that she reads this blog. I don't know. I reckon I'll find out.

corymbia said...

Debby - we had a lecturer like that too.
As an external student, most of my lectures were videod and put online for me to download and view at my leisure ... except for one subject where we only had the audio which included such gems as "what do you think of this?" (obviously showing something to the class) and "let's organise this table by moving this to there" (again - I had no iea what she could have been refering to). The assignments were ambigous and the worst bit was she basically told external students not to e-mail her for clarification on anything. The interesting thing was that every other lecturer knew what she was like and urged us to complain loudly to student services and the dean.... which I did.
I did actually do really well in that subject (top marks) but I think that's because I did well in every subject and was smart enough to work out what she wanted.
...of course the real irony here is that I was studying how to be a teacher and learning from someone who patently had no idea!
So I urge you to complain to the dean / your advisor early on ... but anonymously if you can. Chances are she is already known as a Bad Teacher and more complaints may force her to consider her actions.

steviewren said...

Sorry Debby, it sounds like you got a nut case for a teacher. I had a terrible one for a biology class. His notes were literally the bold face type in the book. We were only supposed to cover 1/2 the text in his class...he made us do it all. It was a summer course so we did the whole book that was supposed to cover 2 semesters in 8 weeks. I was lucky to get out of there alive. Not many did.

WhiteStone said...

It's a PSYCH CLASS. This is a test! What you need are psychic powers. And this will be the best advice you get all day.

From one who has NO psychic powers and hasn't a clue.

Please ignore.

Debby said...

WhiteStone: LOL. Can't ignore funny. Sorry.

Bob Barbanes said...

Debby, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's some kind of grand psych experiment. Maybe the results will be made known as the course progresses...maybe it's for the teacher's own amusement/edification. She does sound manipulative, but I get the feeling she's playing a game.

Debby said...

It will be interesting, Bob. I'll let you know if it turns out to be psychology in action, a little experiment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Debby.

I would be surprised if it were an experiment.

From: Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. © 2010 American Psychological Association

3.04 Avoiding Harm
"Psychologists take reasonable steps to avoid harming their clients/patients, students, supervisees, research participants, organizational clients, and others with whom they work, and to minimize harm where it is foreseeable and unavoidable".

I would guess that distress (psychological harm) is counted as harm.


7.03 Accuracy in Teaching
(a) Psychologists take reasonable steps to ensure that course syllabi are accurate regarding the subject matter to be covered, bases for evaluating progress, and the nature of course experiences. This standard does not preclude an instructor from modifying course content or requirements when the instructor considers it pedagogically necessary or desirable, so long as students are made aware of these modifications in a manner that enables them to fulfill course requirements. See also Standard 5.01, Avoidance of False or Deceptive Statements.)


Debby said...

God love ya, DavidM. I have printed out your comment for future reference.