Complaints That Don't Match Reality, Cont.
- "Doesn't give students enough time to ask questions."
I start off 100% of my classes fielding questions from students. I end approximately 90% of my classes with enough time to query students for questions. On top of that, I will completely stop in my tracks during class to answer any and all questions sent to me via this device.
- "Took away our curve out of nowhere so everyone failed."
I don't have the slightest clue on this one--must be my Htrae counterpart that did this. I've never, ever, done "took away" a curve "out of nowhere" (whatever any of that means), and never, ever, has "everyone failed." See here for my curving policy and here for the grades I've given in the past. In fact, that semester, there were no failures recorded at all thanks to my curving policy.
- "Not enough office hours! Needs more office hours!" (Remember: you can always request an appointment.)
- "It would have been great if Dr. Arnold had provided clear instructions for the modules rather than sending us revised instructions at a date later than my preference."
Since I had taught this class before, I had already prepared revised instructions before the class even began and posted them in the forums four days before the class even started.
- "I would have really appreciated an example of a completed capstone project to have a better idea of what mine should look like. Another student in the course asked for a sample, and Dr. Arnold only said he would be willing to proofread assignments before submission."
(The "another student" is actually OP.) This student continually claimed that she was a "visual learner." I acknowledged her myriad references to her leaning style (without telling her they were bunk) and explained that this would be a good opportunity to expand upon her abilities as a student (the world isn't Burger King, and you can't always have it your way). More importantly, I told her that FERPA did not allow me to grant her request, which she acknowledged. Complain to the Feds, not to me (of course, it's just easier to complain about me, I suppose).
- "He told us the first day that if we didn't meet with him about the final essay, we were probably going to fail--NOT ENCOURAGING!"
<sigh> It's generally true that students at that level (2000-level) don't write good essays and I care very much about that. However, my comment about that at the beginning of the semester was that my essays are simply not designed to be worked on in isolation, and of the students who do not seek my help (and I continue to encourage them to do so throughout the semester as well as give them practice opportunities), around 50% get grades less than B. The alternative here would be to just not encourage students to seek my help at all, and, instead, just let them earn Cs, Ds, or Fs all on their own. Besides, I said the average for a first-attempt essay without my help is in the low 70 percentile range, not failure.
- I had one student complain directly to me about an in-class assignment that centered on origami. He quoted Cicero on something about childishness--something like that. Origami, as it turns out, is useful in such diverse fields such as medical science, mathematics, industrial engineering, mechanical design, robotics, and even space travel! Cicero would totally approve!
- "I wished the mentor would have recommended or mentioned that he preferred work submitted [for review] via Google Docs in the beginning of the course. That way I could have familiarized myself with Google Docs from the beginning instead of trying to learn it while completing assignments."
I posted instructions about how to send me reviews and how to use Google Docs (with a full instruction set) four days before the class began. <Sigh, again>
- "When I asked questions...would often refer me to the instructions...[Seemed] to question [my] intelligence...If you would like to contact me further regarding my experiences in this class, my email is [redacted]@gmail.com."
This student had severe problems with following directions throughout the class and I continually attempted to try to help her with this deficiency by asking her to read the instructions given in written form and to re-communicate to me how she interpreted those instructions. These requests usually went unheeded. In the end, the student placed their full email address on the survey which, in the instructions, indicated in no uncertain terms it was to be a confidential survey.
- It is unfair for the instructor to grade the paper, and then take percentages off that grade for the introduction paragraph and the structure. That's like double points for the same issue. I should not have gotten a D on a paper that I met with the instructor twice and he said "its clear that you read and understood the book" and "you have good evidence". Ridiculous.
The problem is that this student left out the next part of my statement (which I've also stated in my FAQ), which was somethig akin to "but if you can't convey the information you've learned in such a way as to be understood by others, that information won't do anyone any good." Also, the student didn't mention that she met with me twice after the paper was graded, instead of before it was graded. On top of that, contrary to her complaint, the assignment stated, "Make sure all of your support paragraphs are in ABCD format" and "In order to not receive a 10% deduction on Rubric Row A, please format your introduction paragraph as such: [listed the format]." Also, since this student received a grade not to their liking on the first essay, she had two grade improvement/replacement opportunities available to her. And, as an aside, please understand that I don't provide compliments to students with the purpose of having them thrown back in my face and used against me. Please, policy student, do better than this in your future. "Ridiculous," indeed!
- Impersonal. (This is the commenter's entire statement)
The double irony of this "criticism" isn't lost on me. A one-word criticicm on an anonymous form from a class where I received several comments of these ken: "Professor Arnold was always willing to help me grow as a student, a writer, a future educator, and a responsible person overall. He was always available for extra help during office hours and met me at my level of writing. I came away from this course with several refined, near graduate level essays that I can be most proud of because of his attention to detail and encouragement. He is a man...who shows compassion on all his students [and] he is a most welcome, refreshing voice to this university, and I pray he stays here for as long as possible" and "Professor Arnold is extremely knowledgeable on the subject and is always happy to answer any questions that anyone has."
- The no technology rule is terrible, the notes go so fast and it is very hard to write everything down in a notebook. It would have been so much better typing notes.
At the beginning of my classes, I state why I do this and that I do it for their benefit. Indeed, my experience and research is proving that it isn't, in fact, "so much better typing notes" (which is information I share with the class). Why no one audio records me is beyond me. (note: this changed in Autumn 2017 when some students FINALLY started recording me.) I state in the syllabus that audio recording devices are allowed and reaffirm this on the first day of class. Also, I state, in no uncertain terms that I will re-do the parts of my presentation that students are unclear about after class or even in my office hours--but, again, it's always easier to blame me rather than to become a better student, I guess?
- He sets very high standards for students and always assign [sic.] improper amount [sic.] of pre-class preparation, which makes the majority tired of learning.
Actually, given the rest of the comments such as:
"I thoroughly enjoyed this class, and learned a great deal. The way the assignments and reading materials were done allowed for me to be prepared every class."
"I really like the lectures. I found them to be very interesting and thought inducing"; "I really enjoyed this class and would definitely recommend it to a fellow student. Professor Arnold is extremely knowledgeable on the subject and is always happy to answer any questions that anyone has. It is a challenging course but the subject matter is very interesting."
Indicated the "majority" wasn't "tired of learning." The ironic thing about this was we were in a class where we had studied how standards have generally eroded in the American education system and learned that students study far, far less now than they every did (also, they don't seem to even know how to study, anymore). Ironic that a future educator (!) didn't learn this theme from the very class he/she was criticizing.
- The final paper was a culmination of the 5 papers we had written over the course of the semester. Up until this past Thursday, only 2 of the 5 papers were graded so that I had the feedback necessary to edit and rewrite. As of yesterday (course end) the 5th paper (in my opinion the most important one) has not been graded. I did not feel that I had the necessary feedback to complete my capstone project to the best of my ability.
Of course this student didn't mention that she scrambled to get the last three papers in at the last minute.
- Was suppose to get an A in this class but couldn't because I opted out of a ten page impossible essay that would of given me a lower grade anyway.
This was a class with a "high B" option, and students, indeed, opted to do the "impossible essay" in order to utilize the full grading scale (all that did received an A in the class). Gotta love students who sell themselves short and then blame me for their learned helplessness. As stated, the requirement was for a 10-page essay, something an education major shouldn't find "impossible" in a senior-level class (to their credit, this attitude might not be totally their fault). Indeed, when I began to teach history in the early 2000s, I required a 10-page essay in my 100-level survey courses that were taught at a minority-serving community college. These students had no problems doing these "impossible" essays (and most of them were not education majors) and seemed to enjoy having the opportunity to better their writing skills. Also, I'm not sure how one who opts not to do all the work required to get a A feels they were "suppose[d]" to get an A., but that's part of why the comment is listed in this section.
More interestingly, this was a comment from one of my history of U.S. education courses, which means the logic train looked something like this:
Me: Long written essays were part and parcel of education in the past, even at the K-12 and it seems that modern American education might be selling students short in this area. It should be a concern for anyone becoming a teacher since humans probably have about as much intellectual capacity as ever, but the assignments given to modern students are...
Education Student: ...impossible for any human to do!
Me: <Facepalm> ...not as rigorous as they once were....
- Always felt like we were doing busy work...Had terrible assignments, they all took over three hours for no reason.
Actually, there is always a reason when I assign something, but as the saying goes: "you get out of it what you put into it..." And THREE WHOLE HOURS for THREE assignments over the course of an ENTIRE SEMESTER??! This student is complaining about nine hours' worth of work given over sixteen weeks! The horror..... the horror....