Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Student Ethics in Class

  1. Sep 2, 2003 #1
    This is my second academic day in university (1st academic day is when the first class starts). I have some question, in which your opinion would be welcomed!

    1) Sound Volume: A female lecturer talked with a very low volume. I already asked her to speak louder. She said "OK, I'll speak as hard as I can". But she still spoke softly. Is it ethical for me to ask again and again for a louder voice?

    2) Minor Mistakes: When people write in the whiteboard, sometimes they make minor mistakes, like typos (for example "the fumction g(x)...". Is it OK to point out and say "Mam, you did a typo there...". How about when people forget to write an arrow above a vector's symbol ("Sir, you forgot to mark that as a vector").

    3) Use of Language: "Why do we need to mention the commutative property of real number multiplication? Because not all elements in the universe have that property. Matrix is one example of that.". What if I said "Mam, matrices and real numbers are not elements in the universe. Gold is one such element."? OK maybe not that rude, but should I tell her that her use of language isn't appropriate IMO, or should I just live with it?

    4) I pointed once "Mam, you forgot to mention/write that n cannot be zero (a theorem involving m/n)". Afterwards she said "It is understood that in real number divisions the denominator isn't zero". My textbook writes "d isn't 0" in every division problems where d is the denominator, so I felt uneasy with my teacher's convention. Should I live with it?

    Well, you guys get the idea. I'll wait for any number specific answer or general advice.

    Thanks a lot!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 2, 2003 #2
    How about sitting nearer the front?

    If it was something like an arrow missing over a vector I wouldn't bother. I'm sure everyone would be able to cope with a little slip like that...lecturers bound to make odd mistakes sometimes. If you think you've spotted a genuine mistake in, say some calculation, maybe it would be up to you whether you felt like asking he/she to go through and check at the time or after lecture.

    Umm..ok...lol. I've a feeling you might get on a lecturer's nerves

    Er...I'm sure you both know what you mean and are both right, so, I wouldn't worry about little things like that.

    Just my $0.02 :smile:
  4. Sep 2, 2003 #3
    I agree that if you are having trouble hearing move closer. If this doesn't help, then the teacher needs to be told, just do so without disrupting her class.

    Ask yourself what your purpose is in asking the question or pointing out errors. Are you trying to help others understand what you apparrently already seem to know, are you trying to help the teacher, or are you trying to impress the teacher or other students?

    If it's the last one, just know that the teacher will be more upset than impressed, and who really cares what the other students think? They aren't the ones with sole control over what grade you get (it is very hard to get a fair grade from a teacher who just doesn't like you). Choose your battles carefully.
  5. Sep 2, 2003 #4
    Yes, I also agree that you shouldn't correct people on minor things, especially minor things that everyone knows what is correct. For example, when they mispell "function", just leave it alone. They aren't up there honestly thinking that it's a "fumction" are they?
  6. Sep 3, 2003 #5
    Well, I try to correct even minor mistakes because I think it's the right thing to do. Well, I guess I need to rethink about it. Btw I myself won't mind if I were the teacher. Thanks for the input guys...
  7. Sep 3, 2003 #6
    You're right. It is the right thing to do. If your motive is to help the class I think that the teacher will sense that. However, a teacher often has a tenuous hold on a class' respect (especially those who are less capable), so be careful how you proceed.
  8. Sep 3, 2003 #7
    Correcting a lecturer's spelling can get tedious and bothersome. I usually catch myself at the end of the word, but if it's minute 45 out of a 50 minute class and I misspell a word, it's because my hands are about to fall off from writing on the board the entire time. Unless the misspelling obscures important points in the material, it's not really worth the bother.

    The same would go for notation. If you're unclear on the notation (people have been known to switch notation styles in the middle of a lecture), speak up to make sure. You don't want to be puzzling over why your instructor was symbolizing a tensor as a vector (which happened to me once, for instance). Also, if your lecturer has made a certain convention clear, just go with it and don't make a fuss. Part of learning science (and math and engineering) is learning to deal with to various conventions and notations. You don't have to like it, you just have to do it.

    If you understand what the instructor is getting at, there's no need to be so pedantic about language. In the example of the instructor commenting about "elements" it is rather painfully obvious that she is not referring to chemical elements. If there is sincere doubt about the meaning, by all means ask your lecturer.

    Two cents from the other side of the classroom....
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook