Is it worth my time to go to the dean? (LONG) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 05-12-2011, 10:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I just finished the last final exam of my undergraduate career.  I am so happy to be done (and looking forward to pharmacy school in the fall).  The semester has ended on a bit of a sour note.  I feel like I should probably talk to the dean about what happened in this class, but I don't want to bother making an appointment, etc. if it will not make a difference.

 

The class was Anatomy and Physiology 2.  I had this instructor for A & P 1, and she was excellent.  Practically the perfect professor.  She took a sabbatical (involuntarily, I believe), and I waited for her to return in order to take A & P 2.  I don't know what happened, but she was a completely different professor.

 

Some things that happened in this class:

 

*We did not cover all of the course material in lecture.  We made it through the heart, the blood, and the most of the respiratory system.  We did not cover the digestive, lymphatic, endocrine, reproductive, or urinary systems.  This material comprised 1/3 - 1/2 of the course.

 

*The professor's solution to the missing topics was to give a take-home final nine days before the in-class final, then include a selection (~80) of those questions verbatim on the in-class final.  We received the answers to the take-home final at 4:00 PM the day before the final, which was scheduled for 9:00 AM.

 

*Every lab practical we had started about an hour late.  She would still be writing questions while we were taking the exam.  I often had to stand there waiting for her to write the question so I could go on to the next one.  The last practical ran over so much that some students did not finish.  They were allowed to come back on Monday (the practical was on a Thursday) to complete the exam.  This gave them four extra days to study after having seen the test questions.  This situation is unfair to everyone.

 

*Class often started late.  Class would occasionally go over (by 20 minutes) or meet again after class had ended, and these sessions contained testable material.  For example, one lab practical involved structures on the rat.  We did not get a demonstration until after lecture the day before the practical exam.  If you had a class after lecture, you were in trouble.

 

*Assignments were given late (although the due dates often did not change) and it took her weeks and weeks to grade things.  She would always promise to hand things back on certain days/email things and never did.

 

*We were expected to learn much of the lab material on our own.  This was fine for me, but I am pretty sure that many of the students could have benefited from additional lab time with an instructor present.

 

*She tested on things that she specifically said would not be tested.  I am lucky that I just happen to know that nitrogen comprises about 79% of our atmosphere.

 

My frustration has everything to do with my lack of learning in the course (and the stress of never knowing what was going on) and very little to do with my grade.  This instructor likes me, and told me today that I am one of the best students that she has ever had.

 

Is it a good idea to talk to the dean, or will the dean not particularly care?  I don't want the professor to get in huge trouble because she is a good instructor with good intentions, she just has major time-management issues.  Obviously talking to the dean won't help me any, but it could help future students.  Thoughts?


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#2 of 5 Old 05-12-2011, 11:46 AM
 
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Yes.  It is worth it to future students.  When I was in uni we always had to complete a course/prof evaluation.  I think it's good to do anyway even just to give the prof some feedback.  But in your case it is especially important!


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#3 of 5 Old 05-12-2011, 12:40 PM
 
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I would talk to her chair first rather than go straight to the dean.  I think you hit upon it early on "I don't know what happened, but she was a completely different professor."  Either this prof had never taught A&P2 before and it was way over her head, or she had a particularly heavy courseload, or this was her first time teaching this course, or maybe she was dealing with some kind of serious outside stress.  Maybe her mother was dieing and she was trying to care for her, while juggling newborn twins.  Maybe she's dealing with mental illness in her family.  You don't know.  Hopefully whatever was going on was temporary, but if there is something external in her life, her chair likely knows and could take action appropriate to the situation.  It's also possible that nothing was going on other than in the first semester she had a lighter course load, and this semester she had too much on her plate.  It's worth voicing your concerns, but I wouldn't go straight to the dean.  It's unlikely the dean could do anything anyways other than put a bad note in her file.

 

Did you ever talk to your professor about the issues going on in her class?  She's really the one who has the most power to change things.  

 

As a professor myself, I know how hard it is to keep it together for class when something else is going on, no matter how hard you try.  It's a very public position, with a lot of responsibility and very short timelines.  As a student, you can fall behind and you are the only one hurt.  As a professor, you really can't fall behind.  Hopefully she'll be able to pull it together again.  As you mentioned, she was practically the perfect professor.  So great that you waited for her to come back to take her class.  Keep that in mind. 

 

Congrats on graduating!

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#4 of 5 Old 05-12-2011, 09:49 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post

I just finished the last final exam of my undergraduate career.  I am so happy to be done (and looking forward to pharmacy school in the fall).  The semester has ended on a bit of a sour note.  I feel like I should probably talk to the dean about what happened in this class, but I don't want to bother making an appointment, etc. if it will not make a difference.

 

The class was Anatomy and Physiology 2.  I had this instructor for A & P 1, and she was excellent.  Practically the perfect professor.  She took a sabbatical (involuntarily, I believe), and I waited for her to return in order to take A & P 2.  I don't know what happened, but she was a completely different professor.

 

Some things that happened in this class:

 

*We did not cover all of the course material in lecture.  We made it through the heart, the blood, and the most of the respiratory system.  We did not cover the digestive, lymphatic, endocrine, reproductive, or urinary systems.  This material comprised 1/3 - 1/2 of the course.

 

*The professor's solution to the missing topics was to give a take-home final nine days before the in-class final, then include a selection (~80) of those questions verbatim on the in-class final.  We received the answers to the take-home final at 4:00 PM the day before the final, which was scheduled for 9:00 AM.

 

*Every lab practical we had started about an hour late.  She would still be writing questions while we were taking the exam.  I often had to stand there waiting for her to write the question so I could go on to the next one.  The last practical ran over so much that some students did not finish.  They were allowed to come back on Monday (the practical was on a Thursday) to complete the exam.  This gave them four extra days to study after having seen the test questions.  This situation is unfair to everyone.

 

*Class often started late.  Class would occasionally go over (by 20 minutes) or meet again after class had ended, and these sessions contained testable material.  For example, one lab practical involved structures on the rat.  We did not get a demonstration until after lecture the day before the practical exam.  If you had a class after lecture, you were in trouble.

 

*Assignments were given late (although the due dates often did not change) and it took her weeks and weeks to grade things.  She would always promise to hand things back on certain days/email things and never did.

 

*We were expected to learn much of the lab material on our own.  This was fine for me, but I am pretty sure that many of the students could have benefited from additional lab time with an instructor present.

 

*She tested on things that she specifically said would not be tested.  I am lucky that I just happen to know that nitrogen comprises about 79% of our atmosphere.

 

My frustration has everything to do with my lack of learning in the course (and the stress of never knowing what was going on) and very little to do with my grade.  This instructor likes me, and told me today that I am one of the best students that she has ever had.

 

Is it a good idea to talk to the dean, or will the dean not particularly care?  I don't want the professor to get in huge trouble because she is a good instructor with good intentions, she just has major time-management issues.  Obviously talking to the dean won't help me any, but it could help future students.  Thoughts?


The things I bolded would be things I would go to the dean about.  The rest I wouldn't bother with because at my university the expectation was that you would be learning from the book and the lecture not just from the lecture.  The professors would often cover difficult to understand material and the key pieces of learning, but there was still a lot that you had to learn on your own by reading the material.  Not coming prepared, being more than 15 minutes late to class, and not respecting the time limits of the class are things that teachers should be called on though. 

 

Next time you have a professor like that I really suggest going to them and letting them know that you really want to hear what they have to say and you don't want them to think you are being rude but you have to be across campus within ten minutes of class ending so you will have to go to that class in order to learn that subject well also.  I did this with a professor who was chronically late because she thought that the subject she taught was just so exciting (even though it really wasn't and neither was she) and she was rarely late after that.

 

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#5 of 5 Old 06-04-2011, 10:36 AM
 
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I'm late to the party, but I also would go to the chair rather than the dean. OP, how did this resolve?

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