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Did you get scolded by professor?

  1. Sep 2, 2015 #1
    My group was the last one finishing the lab report for today's physics lab. The instructor asked why I didn't try more data point after I turned in the report. (The manual doesn't require a specific number of data point)
    I said I didn't really have enough time. He responded sarcastically, "Do you need to take 20 mins to get 10 more data points? This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!"

    I was a little bit angry at that time but I didn't know what I could say. I think it is pretty meaningless to argue whether I was "capable" to take 10 more data points. I just wanted to get it done and leave at that time. I have to admit the entire report was a little bit messy and I got wrong answers for 2 out of 10 questions, which I guess was part of the reason why he had such response.

    I just want to know if anyone has faced similar situation like this and how did you keep yourself happy and
    maintain a good relation with the professor.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 2, 2015 #2
    You don't. Some professors will be like this. If you get your panties in a bunch over every hurtful thing your professors say, you will never make it through school or through life in general. Just ignore him, do the best you can, and move on. You don't need to have a "good relationship" with every professor, especially one that treats students this way.

    It's a hard lesson to learn... my freshman year, I remember being in tears after my professor would make a snippy remark at me, make fun of me, or say something hurtful. That's the bad part about being in small classes where the professors and students are very comfortable with each other, I guess. Unfortunately, it just happens...
  4. Sep 2, 2015 #3
    Jeez man, just learn to take criticism, if you get angry about things like this you'll have a hard time in life (not just in academia).
  5. Sep 2, 2015 #4


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    Vigorous argument probably will not help. The best you can hope for is the professor develops a reputation that affects students avoiding taking his courses. Also recheck yourself. Did you really do sloppy, quick work? Even more, could you now make your own judgement at the beginning of a course about how a professor will be for a course, and withdraw early enough to find a course section which is taught by a better professor? You should know too that this kind of problem occurs in the real working world and is not limited just to one or two occasional academic classes.
    One more comment, maybe in the professor's favor: Did you plan well before the lab class meeting for that day?
  6. Sep 2, 2015 #5
    I haven't worked in a real job but I believe harsh criticism should be more common in the "real world".
    How do you deal the emotion and embarrassment?
    Do you just have no feeling when someone yell at you or you just find ways to release emotion?
  7. Sep 2, 2015 #6


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    This is difficult. You may have through experience, some good supervisors, and some bad supervisors. You might learn how to figure which way they may be during the employment interview meetings, and could be ready and decisive about avoiding those who you believe are the bad ones.
  8. Sep 2, 2015 #7
    I have some experiences of the negative variety in this. My sophomore year, a professor told me that I had gotten a C in his class when I had gotten an A, "just to see how I would react" (his words). He was a real peach. Now, I cried my fair share of tears (since I had worked really hard in that class, and I thought I had done so well), but that was privately. However, when grades came out... I was fuming. I stormed into his office, shut the door, and had a good few words with him. Not only did I not accomplish anything (I mean, what was there to accomplish?) but I was embarrassed and quite ashamed of the way I reacted. That experience really sucked, but I learned a valuable lesson. You will get treated like cow dung in your academic (or otherwise) career, but just rise up and be the better man.
  9. Sep 2, 2015 #8
    Thank you for all the replies. I feel better after watching some anime.
    I am the kind of people who prefer to just sit in a corner and get the job done.
    I think the professor wasn't targeting me. He might have a bad mood at that time.
    On the other hand, I actually read the lab manual before class.
    I think I spent about 2 hours to read all the instructions and write some notes but I needed to actually try connecting the devices in order to grasp the ideas.
    It was part of the reason that caused the delay and other half was my group members.
    They don't speak English too well and it was a little bit confusing sometimes.
    My English actually is not that good either (it is my second or maybe third language). This might cause communication problem...
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2015
  10. Sep 3, 2015 #9


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    You read the instructions for two whole hours but still struggled to connect the devices. You got through the experiment eventually, handed it in and left in a hurry. The professor was looking at this, thinking "this guy is really not trying very hard". The next time he sees you, he asks why you didn't try more data points. Your answer was that you didn't have time but you did have time, there was ample time.

    This is what led to the whole thing, how shockingly bad you were doing in the lab. Your explanation is not that convincing either.

    1. It should have taken 20 minutes to read the instructions, not 2 hours.
    2. Language difficulties should not have got in the way. Between the three of you, you should have been able to work it out and demonstrate it to the others in your group.

    There is a saying, possession is 9/10ths of the law. This situation is similar. I have to conclude that it was your fault this happened and you don't really have a right to be angry about the response. If this was a court of law, the judge would be saying it's your fault it happened.
  11. Sep 3, 2015 #10


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    I personally don't like to throw around 'fault'. Could the OP have done things differently? Probably. Could the teacher have done something differently to help the students? Probably. But that's life. One thing I can recommend to the OP is to BE PROACTIVE when it comes to lab, work, study, whatever. If you're confused or having a hard time understanding something, ask questions. Especially in a timed lab. Also, learn from your mistakes. If your lab partners are causing problems, then you need to do something about it. Gather them together for a pre-lab study session to go over the lab manual, get a new group, something.
  12. Sep 3, 2015 #11
    Hi verty,
    First of all, I want to clarify that I am not trying to determine it's whose fault nor earn sympathy from strangers.
    I never said I had no responsibility in this particular incident.
    Part of the reason I made this thread is to find someone to talk about my issue so maybe it can lead me to think in different directions.
    The other part is to gather opinions from different people thus I can see if there is any way I can avoid such conflict.
    As you mentioned, my bad mood is mainly caused by my shockingly poor performance in lab and it was my fault.
    At the moment, I am still trying to reach the point where I can at least feel that I understand how to do the stuff in lab.
    I definitely believe there is room for me to improve or additional effort I can put into my work in order to get things done faster and better.
    However, if everyone could get their duties done perfectly or reach other people's expectations without hesitation, the world would be more peaceful and desirable.
    The suggestion of trying harder is not a solution in my opinion. Maybe I just gave you a feeling that I didn't try hard enough.
    I know if it was a working place, you would either reach the standard or you would get fired. There is no excuse.
    Right now, I am actually trying to avoid to be the one who "get fired" and let myself be emotionally stable when I face similar situation in future.
    I am seeking views and solutions of different people. I am not blaming anyone. Hopefully you understand.
  13. Sep 3, 2015 #12
    Deciding on the number of data points is key in any experimental design. You need to learn to do that.
  14. Sep 3, 2015 #13


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    If you felt that you were given a grade that didn't match your actual accomplishment in the class, you would have had every reasonable ground to file a formal complaint through the department or through the faculty/college. Why didn't you pursue this route? If I was in your shoes, I would have done so, and I've known a number of students who have done just that in my alma mater and had their grades subsequently adjusted.

    A valuable lesson you should have learned is that if you feel like you were treated in an unethical manner, you should do all in your power to fight back against the injustice.
  15. Sep 3, 2015 #14


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    This sounds perfectly fair. I definitely agree with what you have said here. And I think I jumped to conclusions because I thought you read the lab manual in class but now I see you read it before class, so I was definitely wrong about that. So please ignore what I said, it was based on the idea of something like a 3 hour lab class where the first 2 hours were spent doing little besides reading. That certainly could have annoyed the professor enough to be snappy (because professors are notoriously high-strung people).

    Nah, everything I wrote was based on a misconception about when you read the lab manual. So forget that idea, you were prepared and struggled in class and I have no right to make such conclusions as I made before.

    I totally take back what I said and I do apologize.
  16. Sep 3, 2015 #15
    some professors are like this and it's hard or impossible to maintain good feelings towards them when it happens.
    You just have to go through with it.

    What happens in the end is that when it comes to optional courses, students start avoiding certain professors. It sounds stupid and immature but it's a fact of life that the teacher can make you lose the good feelings towards a subject.
  17. Sep 3, 2015 #16


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    One thing I will say, always be prepared to defend yourself when it comes to your academic record. For example, if you fail an exam and it isn't your fault, if you think the professor marked you down unfairly, whatever the case may be, definitely take it up with the Dean of Students and get it looked at. I made that mistake, I had a teacher who changed the syllabus in the 2nd week of a two-week course. I had saved the syllabus in the first week and stupidly decided not to attend the 2nd week because I could just learn the syllabus.

    But the syllabus changed and I failed the exam. I made the mistake of going to the professor himself, I told him I was highly upset, it was totally unfair to do that. He told me not to worry, I could rewrite the exam, it wouldn't affect my record. I rewrote the exam and scored well.

    When I got my results at the end of the year, I had scored 50%. When I enquired why it was 50%, it was because I failed the exam and required a rewrite. It was policy that any rewrite, if passed, was worth only 50%. Though I had been assured by the professor himself that it wouldn't affect my record, I got suckered because I didn't go to the Dean.

    So don't make that mistake. If you think your professor is hurting your chances academically, don't take a chance and definitely make it official. Don't think that you shouldn't because X, Y or Z. In my case, I thought I shouldn't because I was the only one caught out. But by the same reasoning that I gave above, the cause was the change of syllabus, not my missing class. That is where the fault was and I should have made it official and I paid the price for it. If you get that logic and the 3-hour lab scenario that I mentioned above, you'll understand where I was coming from.
  18. Sep 3, 2015 #17
    Yeah, this is uncalled for. The prof was probably having a bad day or something, but he shouldn't let his students be the victim of that. But the question is: what can you do about it? Nothing. As a student, there's nothing you can do about this. So better to just ignore him.
  19. Sep 3, 2015 #18
    This. I TA for several lab sections and the number of times I've said something completely bloody ridiculous or offensive is really high. For all you know, the professor would like to apologize to you but doesn't remember your name.
  20. Sep 4, 2015 #19


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    Uncalled for, yes, but I still want to believe the professor had his best interests in mind.

    OP, If he didn't care about you and your studies-or didn't see more potential in you- he probably wouldn't have made such a remark. At least that's how I would rationalize the situation. In my experience, the harshest criticisms usually come from people who actually care.

    You realized your report was a bit sloppy, and you got some stuff wrong. Do better next time, and if you have time left in the lab to more that will bolster your report, use that time. Try not to hold any type of grudge towards the professor, learn what you can from this situation.
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