Ratemyprofessors website?

  • #26
Tom Mattson
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There are many, many practice problems, and I don't have time to cover all of them in class. So when I leave it to the student to do all of them, it is at that point that I am asking him to extend what was done in class. In the exam setting, I'm not asking them to figure out anything new. I'm just asking, "What have you learned?"

But since (I suspect) all but the best students don't do the practice problems, I am in effect asking most of the students to extend what I've taught during the exam. Too bad for them.
 
  • #27
mathwonk
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i see toms point. in a related vein in a grad course i taught some students once said that the final was hard becuase although i had covered the amterial on a certain topic "we didn't doa ny problems on it".

i asked why not? the stduent said well you didn't assign any. hello? so what? a student who only does problems on topics which are assigned is like a student who is waiting for someone to tell them when to breathe.
 
  • #28
HallsofIvy
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Whenever a student says that I'm a hard professor, I have to pretend to take the complaint seriously. But inside I always wonder, "What is this kid's major malfunction???"
My only question is why you consider that a complaint! When a student says "That was a hard test", my response is "Thank you".

I have had students complain that I put questions on the test that "we never covered in class". In one case, I put on the test a problem from the text that I had not assigned but was right next to one I had assigned. It was the classic problem: you are given the temperature function on a metal plate and asked to find the point where the temperature is minimum. When a student complained that we hadn't covered that, I responded that we had covered finding a minimum and done problems in class like that. His answer was, "They weren't about temperature"!

But my favorite is this: I do occasionally put problems on tests that I assigned at homework. A student complained that a problem on the test was not at all like those we had covered in class. I pointed out that that exact problem was assigned as homework, that on a question from a student, I had gone over that question in class, then showed him where he had the entire solution written in his notebook!
 
  • #29
mathwonk
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unbelievable as these experiences may sound to young people, i assure you they are all not only true but in fact typical, and do not surprize me in the least after 40 years of teaching.

in the old days such clueless students were merely ignored by professors and considered impossible to help, but most of todays professors actually continue trying to help students learn to learn and learn to function in a modern world.

in fact it is because these professors posting here these amazing tales do care, that they are frustrated by them. uncaring profesors would merely ignore these situations and forget about them, leaving the student to sink.
 
  • #30
Tom Mattson
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My only question is why you consider that a complaint!
It's pretty clear that the student means it as a complaint. I think it comes from an entitlement mindset that says, "I'm paying for this, so I'm paying you to make me understand this stuff." Of course, no teacher can make the student understand anything without the student's deliberate effort, and no one can understand anything on behalf of someone else. But if the student understood a concept as deep as that one, he probably wouldn't be having so much trouble graphing straight lines in the first place.

When a student says "That was a hard test", my response is "Thank you".
It's not my goal to write hard tests, but rather to ensure that the student has met all of the stated behavioral objectives for the course, which are given in writing in the syllabus. So for instance in my Precalc course, which lists among its behavioral objectives both polynomial division and synthetic division, I test the students by giving them two polynomials to divide. Then I tell them to divide them both ways. You'd be amazed how many solutions I get in which the two answers don't match, and the student thinks nothing of it.

I have had students complain that I put questions on the test that "we never covered in class". In one case, I put on the test a problem from the text that I had not assigned but was right next to one I had assigned. It was the classic problem: you are given the temperature function on a metal plate and asked to find the point where the temperature is minimum. When a student complained that we hadn't covered that, I responded that we had covered finding a minimum and done problems in class like that. His answer was, "They weren't about temperature"!
I've been there too. I don't even bother with physical applications anymore. All my questions are pure math, except when the behavioral objectives explicitly list "word problems" for a particular unit, and the only word problems in the unit have to do with real world applications.

But my favorite is this: I do occasionally put problems on tests that I assigned at homework. A student complained that a problem on the test was not at all like those we had covered in class. I pointed out that that exact problem was assigned as homework, that on a question from a student, I had gone over that question in class, then showed him where he had the entire solution written in his notebook!
I've had that happen a few times, too. I've even taken the student's notebook and flipped to the page that contained the solution, just like you describe.
 
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  • #31
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On the other hand if a professor has 10 reviews that complain about him not being prepared for class and constantly making mistakes to the point where you can't trust your notes (I think we've all had that guy), then I'd say that it might not be a bad idea to avoid that professor if possible.

In your life you will have to learn to take information from different sources with grain-of-salt and use it as a tool to make the best decision, not to just take eveything at face value or dismiss eveything either.
For my chemistry professor that had like a 2.0 rating, about 30 people agreed that she was too hard, even though all I had to do was study the HW lightly and get 95% on exams. Now I know that I must take this website with a grain of salt for community college professors, but I don't know about university professors.
 
  • #32
Mathwonk said:
will give a simple example that may or may not surprize you. a very good prof and teacher who predated me here used to tell his students on the first day of every class that he would ask them to write down the limit definition of a derivative on the final exam, as question one.

then he would patiently tell them the answer. in over 30 years of teaching he never had a class in which every student answered this question correctly.

the full credit answer is this: f'(a) = the limit as x-->a of [f(x)-f(a)]/(x-a).

thats all.
That's a great story. I'm not a professor, but I do have one in a similar vein that I'll never forget.

Once at a part time job, I was helping a gentleman was of eastern European descent, when it came up that I was a student studying math at university. He then decided to test me and asked me the question "What's 2 + 2 by 2?"

I responded with 8. :cry:

I've never forgotten the importance of the basics after that.
 
  • #33
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That's a great story. I'm not a professor, but I do have one in a similar vein that I'll never forget.
It's also quite pathetic and sad, really.
 
  • #34
mathwonk
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well if it makes you sad, don't become a professor. that is what your life will be like, helping people for whom that question is nearly impossible.

think of it as a challenge, to figure out how to make the mystery of math notation and concepts understandable to those who have not been well taught.
 
  • #35
J77
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  • #36
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There was a story on the BBC last night about trying to ban sites like this (and kids posting stuff about teachers on youtube).

Spot on, imo.

link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6539989.stm
So much for freedom of speech.....

Next they should ban mesage boards that talk about banning websites.

Society needs one hell of a slap in the face for all of this babying everyone. What do you end up with, a bunch of babies that want to ban everything offensive. Life is not always warm and fuzzy, DEAL WITH IT!

If a website makes you want to cry, you should not be teaching anyone anything IOM. You should be in therepy to recover from a sheltered life that has left you weak and vulnerable in a world that is tough and gritty.
 
  • #37
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Banning websites is a slippery slope. Who would decide which websites to ban, and why? Probably George W. Busche. Imagine that. How quickly the masses would be manipulated. Next, the only talkshows we would be able to watch would be hosted by Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter!!!!
 
  • #38
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1st off when I see the comment the tests looked nothing like what we did in class, I'm wary. It's pretty unreasonable to think that a prof is going to test you on material he hasn't covered.

2nd. off Tests are only hard when you don't know the material as you should. If this is the case then you are to blame not the prof. As we established in 1 that he probably did teach it to you.

3rd. The only thing i would look for on those sites is if they talk about the way prof's grade. If the prof is nitpicky about format etc and takes off points for it then that is someone i would avoid like the plague. Id also avoid anyone who taught you how to do it but didn't explain what it was you were doing.
 
  • #39
There still are plenty of good facts you can glean about a professor from the website.

I had a prof for differential equations who didn't have the slightest clue how to structure notes so a student could understand what he was talking about. No labels for the problems. No labeling of topics. Atrocious handwriting. Kind of makes it tough to go back over the notes when studying. Even worse, his exams were all multiple choice scantron, with no possibility of partial credit. All of the student reviews on this site state exactly these facts.

Had I used this website before hand, I would've avoided the class and taken a different one. Instead, I wound up having to late drop and take it during a different term because his class made no sense.
 
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  • #40
mathwonk
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on the other hand, maybe you could learn to deal with a class like that to your benefit. note taking is a skill.

I used to prefer courses from loomis because his handwriting was beautiful and he wrote clearly and slowly, and his notes were well organized.

but eventually, much later, i realized he was not presenting anything very challenging or valuable.

I would have been better off with sternberg, whose lectures were less organized but more insightful.

but it was not until i began to understand something that i rrealized this.

also it was when i stopped treating a class as something to get a good grade in, and began treating it as something to learn from.
 
  • #41
matt grime
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Ah, student evaluations. Here are some I had from students in the same class:

1. Has terrible chicken-scratchy writing (ironically this form was filled in in barely legible handwriting)
2. His presentation is very clear, especially his hand writing.
3. This guy's english is terrible.
4. Thank god we've got a native english speaker for a change.
5. obviously doesn't know any of the material.
6. clearly knows his stuff.
7, he just recited the textbook
8, he didn't pay any attention to the textbook

I imagine a fair summary of my teaching (2nd year multivarible calc in the states was the above examepl) is:

Seems to have no time for the textbook for the course, and doesn't set homework from it. Homework assigments are harder than I was expecting*. Doesn't suffer slow students gladly, and makes you spend time learning the material independently. Offers office hours whenever the student wants** and never turns a student away.

*[I actually checked what I could assume they knew and set questions accordingly - even my marker for the cours couldn't do some of them, depressingly]

** [students only attended them in the week before the test, so I got fed up with waiting in my office and made them appointment only]

I can imagine that any evaluations weren't anything like that.

I think most teachers know their own shortcomings (I have zero patience, for instance with people not prepared to think for themselves). I don't think students really appreciate what are shortcomings and what is them having unreasonable expectations. I even had one student demand I give him an A 'cos he got As in every other class. Tough.

Howabout a rejoinder website? Rateyourstudent.com, where teachers are allowed to post (suitably obsured) homework attempts and test answers offered by students?

Although I didn't set the exams for the courses I taught recently (in the UK), I did point out to all my students that if they simply did all the past exam papers on the subjects they will spot that the questions in alternate years are nearly identical (and on the homework sheets), and that there was no reason not to get almost 100%. I don't think more than a handful can have paid any attention to this advice.
 
  • #42
matt (and others) - you may be interested in rateyourstudents.blogspot.com. It's really entertaining.
 
  • #43
matt grime
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I guess it goes to show that it's as hard to have original ideas in the internet innovation world as in the maths world... That site makes me smile.
 

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