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yoshiboshi's avatar

Are these things my professor did serious enough to tell my adviser about?

Asked by yoshiboshi (359points) November 25th, 2011

I have a professor who did some things that seemed just very unprofessional and wrong, and I am wondering if I should approach my department adviser about them. Here they are:

-He asked the class if we had concerns about our projects. I said yes and that i wanted to talk to him about it. His phone rang, he put his finger up and said “not right now” and answered the phone. he never returned to me about my concern (it was his girlfriend btw).
-Me and another student wanted to know if he could give the class a couple extra hours after class to work, and he said “I don’t get paid enough”.
-I asked him if he could show me how to make something specific to my project and he told me to google it (I asked him multiple time to show me because I did not want to use google and he still said no).
-I asked him if he could help me use a dangerous equipment and he said “do it yourself”. I asked him if he could at least watch me, to make sure I don’t make mistakes because this was my first time using it, and he still said “do it yourself”.

Are these serious enough to tell my adviser about? Would he care? They just seem kind of horribly unprofessional.

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34 Answers

janbb's avatar

They do. You should. Is he an adjunct professor?

john65pennington's avatar

The only real concern I have is your last request about the dangerous equipment. If you are injured, he has placed himself in a liability situation, as well as your college/university/school.

The other requests you made are real to you, but apparently not to your professor. Cellphones should be limited in schools to teachers, as well as the students. There is a time and place for everything.

I would write down the date and time you asked your professor for help on the dangerous equipment and hold onto it. It might come in handy in the future.

Keen on insisting for his guidance and write down all rejections. Dates and times are important in critical situations. jp

yoshiboshi's avatar

@janbb – Not sure, but he probably is. He is a graduate student at the university, which I do find odd, as I always thought that only people with a masters degree could teach at the university level.

@john65pennington – I don’t remember EXACT date and times, but I can give a pretty good estimate, since I know which projects they happened during, and it all happened this semester. His refusal to watch me operate the dangerous machine does have me confused. I know one student in the class was complaining that he did the same thing to her and she was worried about getting injured… I don’t understand how a professor could be so careless. I am just hoping that my adviser doesn’t look at all of this as me whining and takes this all very seriously. That’s my main concern right now. I want to tell him in person during a scheduled appointment time.

janbb's avatar

@yoshiboshi If he is a grad student or adjunct but in any case, these incidences should be reported. He is not teaching up to academic standards at all and needs to change or he should not be teaching.

It is very important that you discuss this with your adviser who should either discuss it with the department chair or direct you to. You do not need to document exact dates and times; you are not looking to press criminal charges, just raising very legitimate academic concerns.

MrItty's avatar

The “Dangerous equipement” thing could be a potential issue, IF he is actually responsible for overseeing its operation. If not, “do it yourself (or find someone else to assist you)” was the correct response.

The rest of your “issues” are, in my opinion, you just needing to grow up and be an adult:

1) There was absolutely nothing stopping you from contacting him again at some point later that day or a following day, to ask for help. The fact that he got a phone call and put you “on hold” is nothing wrong.

2) He is absolutely correct that he does not get paid enough to simply work two hours overtime, unpaid, simply because you need more time. His job is to teach the course. He has a life as well, and it was simply rude of you to assume that he should stay even a second longer than he was supposed to, just on your whim.

3) You are in college, and should not need handholding for every little thing. If, in his opinion, the thing you are trying to do is easily discoverable on your own (via Google or another resource), it’s ridiculous that you think he should spend his time explaining it to you. That’s what private tutors are for, not professors.

yoshiboshi's avatar

@MrItty – Wow. First of all, YES he is responsible for overseeing his students use equipment that could potentially injure them. By “do it yourself” he did not mean “find someone else”. He really meant that he did not want to show me (and other students in the class).

Telling me that my issues and concerns are me “needing to grow up” shows how immature you in reality are. You don’t tell someone to grow up when they have serious concerns about a professor they are paying in tuition money for. I paid for a class and a teacher to teach me. I did not pay for google. I can google things on my own for FREE. I wanted him to show me how to make a specific part. I wanted his guidance and he refused to give it. It is much easier to have someone explain it and show it to you then read it online, especially if I have questions. Was he busy? Not at all. At the time I asked him, he was texting on his phone.When he put me on hold, not only was it during class time, but it was right after he asked the class for help. Him answering the phone in the middle of me asking for help is not only rude, but UNPROFESSIONAL in ANY working environment. For you to say it is not wrong just shows how twisted your mind is. Not even people I know do that. They at least asked first “can I take this call?”. As far as working overtime, of course he does not HAVE to, but the fact that we could not finish our projects in time was due to his lack of allowing us the adequate amount of time to use the equipment that we can only use when he is in the room.

Don’t come here and tell me I need to grow up when you are the one who obviously does, because it seems you are looking for the next best opportunity to be a teen age troll and argue with someone you don’t know and who you don’t have the complete information about,

marinelife's avatar

@yoshiboshi I agree with Mr. Itty that the first three items you listed are not necessarily unprofessional. The only real issue you have is overseeing you operate the “dangerous” equipment.

No one has to give extra hours outside the parameters of their job.

You should have followed up at another time on your first concern. It was not your professor’s job to remember.

If he told you to google something that meant he thought that you should learn how to do it yourself not be shown how.

yoshiboshi's avatar

Well, him not having the time after class is understandable. It was mostly that he said “I don’t get paid enough” that brings me concern. It was basically like he said “I don’t care about you, I do things based on how much I get paid” which a teacher is not supposed to think.

With the phone, it was not my concern that he never returned. My concern was that he treated me rudely and answered the phone when I was in the middle of speaking to him.

It’s okay to google something that is easy, but when it has to do with actually building something from scratch, I was hoping he could show me how. INstead, he wanted me to google a part to buy at the store, when i just wanted him to show me. It seems he was being lazy, especially since he was texting when I asked him….

CWOTUS's avatar

What, exactly, was the “dangerous equipment”? Since you haven’t elaborated on any of these issues, such as specifying what the professor told you to google (And you “didn’t want to”? Are you kidding me? That hardly seems like misconduct on his part.), or what you wanted to talk to him about, or what that equipment was.

It seems to me, just the first impression that I get from your complaints, that you simply want more hand-holding, and the professor is taking a harder line against that, and demanding that you do things for yourself.

janbb's avatar

Again, I think there is no reason for you not to talk to your adviser about your concerns. That’s what they are there for, to listen. He or she may help you sort out what is valid rather than us all weighing in and judging you or the professor. I work and teach at a community college and I would be concerned about a fellow faculty member expressing such negativity.

yoshiboshi's avatar

@CWOTUS – One was a MIG Welder and the other was Plasma Cutter. It was mine and every students first time using it. For the google thing, I asked him if he could show me how to make a movable joint out of metal (since he said metal was his expertise). He told me to just buy a ball and joint part, but I wanted to make a movable joint on my own.

@janbb – Well, i hope he can then. That seems about right, so it seems my adviser would be the right person to talk to about this first. I wanted to bring them up in as gentle as a way as possible. I don’t want to come in there all belligerent like, ya know?

syz's avatar

While he’s not exactly warm and fuzzy, sounds to me as if he’s just interested in doing his job but not necessarily going the extra mile (or holding your hand).

Luiveton's avatar

Yes, you should report him. You’ve tried talking to him and nicely asking for a favor, and he has no good reason to deny it. There’s a reason he’s actually being paid.
And no teacher ever discusses his wages with his students. I find that quite weird actually.
And the fact that he’s letting you handle dangerous equipment is of his responsibility, if anything had happened to you, he’s to blame. So yes, report him before anything dangerous happens.
What a retard.
He could have phrased his denial much more nicely. So yes, eventhough he’s not forced to work overtime, he doesn’t have to be an ass about it.

Ayesha's avatar

Yes, report this now. Take action, this guy needs a reality check badly. Who does he think he is? Do something about it, immediately.

yoshiboshi's avatar

@Luiveton – my words exactly O_O

I guess this discussion has given me some good practice and things to think about before speaking to my adviser. I’m going to make sure I handle this as professionally as I can.

Thanks all!

Mariah's avatar

Like some of the others said, none of this really concerns me except the last point about using equipment.

Yes, it’s bad form to answer one’s phone during class, whether you’re a student or the teacher. But students are usually allowed to answer their phones if they’re waiting on an urgent phone call because of a family emergency or something like that. Maybe his girlfriend is in the hospital or something. You just don’t know.

And it’s pretty common for a college professor to tell you to look stuff up in your book or on the internet instead of holding your hand. This is part of the difference between college and high school.

But he should definitely help you use a dangerous piece of equipment for the first time.

MrItty's avatar

@yoshiboshi You are an immature college student who thinks everyone should do everything you want them to do. I have not only graduated college, I have been an adjunct college faculty member as well. I assure you, I know what I’m talking about. Your professor is a person. Teching the class is his job, nothing more and nothing less. HE is the one who decides how much assistance his students should need, not you. HE is the one who decides how much of his time he spends on his job, not you. The fact that YOU want him to do additional work for you, because YOU need extra help or extra time, is not relevant to him or to anyone else.

The Dangerous Equipment thing is a problem, yes. The rest is not. Was it rude? Maybe. Was it unprofessional, illegal, or in any other way wrong? No. People are allowed to be rude. There is nothing to complain about, sorry.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
ratboy's avatar

If he is a graduate student, then he has a heavy class load of his own and he doesn’t get paid enough.

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wonderingwhy's avatar

The phone thing is very situation dependent, if it was during class when he answered his phone, that’s no more/less acceptable than you doing the same – basically unacceptable in almost all situations but usually overlooked if it only happens once. If he does it consistently though that’s unacceptable. Outside of class, it could be a bit rude, but it’s a non-issue.

Extra hours after class, that’s really up to him. Some professors do, some don’t. However most have “office hours” go see him then. If he doesn’t, try to frame the core issue as a question and ask at the start of class, it may not be what you’re looking for but it might be the guidance you need.

Asking him about making something specific, that’s up to him and, much like the extra hours after class issue, some do, some don’t. Judging by his responses, don’t waste time with him, use other (better) resources. Finding and utilizing multiple alternate resources to solve your problems is a life skill – consider this practice and learn it well.

The equipment issue reminds me of labs (and sections to a lesser extent), some you could do unsupervised others university policy required instructor supervision; make sure you know the case here as it can be a potentially serious issue. Either way there should be a set schedule, if you can’t get the work done during it, that’s completely on you. Again though, if he is failing to maintain the posted hours, failing to provide mandatory supervision, or if the whole class is in the same boat of needing additional time, that needs to be reported.

You said he’s a grad student, he’s probably more concerned with his work (hopefully nothing to do with teaching) and considers the teaching to be a nuisance, which it can certainly seem. With everything that’s been provided here ask yourself this: is he being a rude/unhelpful person or a genuinely bad professor (irresponsible/unprofessional – not just a style you dislike – there’s a huge difference)? If it’s the former, consider this a life lesson, you’ll need to learn how to achieve your goals despite such people – and there are a lot of them. If it’s the latter file a complaint with your/his advisor and the department head.

Supacase's avatar

Why did you choose not to Google directions for making the movable joint if you didn’t want to buy one? You only hurt yourself there. You are going to have to learn to research independently during college because professors will not hold your hand. Another thing to keep in mind is that there is much more to learn that what he alone knows.

Your professor is not your only resource so don’t limit yourself to what he is willing to give. His job comes with requirements and it is his choice to decide if he wants to offer more. This may include supervising your use of equipment – I would check with your adviser as to what your professor’s responsibilities are as far as that goes.

Sunny2's avatar

Most colleges these days have a class evaluation each semester. That’s the time to air your gripes. You can take your complaints to your advisor, but you may get a reputation for being a complainer, which is evidenced by some of the reactions here. It isn’t clear to me what the project you chose to do is. Does the instructor require the “dangerous equipment” or does your choice of the particular project determine its necessity? In the first case, it’s his responsibility. In the other, it’s yours.

yoshiboshi's avatar

@MrItty – What you say here is very understandable, but your reaction and wording is not mature of yourself. I in no way insulted you or the teacher or adjunct professors, so for you to begin to do so with me is more immature than the gripes I have about my professor. As you can see, many others have given their thoughts on the matter without being rude or an asshole like you. I have deeply considered what they all have had to say and I have not made a decision yet on whether or not I will speak with my advisor about it. You have made no impact in my decision. All I see is someone who is equally wanting to complain and be defensive right back because you have had students who you say are like me. The only reason you are being close-minded and arrogant about this matter when discussing it with me is obviously because you have been under situations before where students have complained about you. Sorry, but no need to take it out on me. I have been in college for four years, I am a senior and I am in my final chapter, and I have taught K-12, which is much more difficult and can be less rewarding than teaching college. I would have been more willing to listen to what you had to say had you not been rude and insulted me. Like I said, some of the others had the same thing to say as you, but they did not do so in an internet troll like manner. If anyone here needs to grow up, it is you. Just because I have a gripe about a professor does not mean I need to grow up. I came here to make sure my gripes were logical, not to get insulted and beat down into submission, which is what you’re trying to do.

To the others, thank you. I have deeply considered what you all have said, and I will think about this some more and perhaps talk to other classmates about how they feel as well. I asked the question because I did not want to make any wrong decisions, so thank you for the help, and thankyou for being kind.

Sorry the essay :P

yoshiboshi's avatar

@Sunny2 – I think you’re right. Perhaps I’ll save it for the review. And yes, we were required to use 3 tools.

yoshiboshi's avatar

@wonderingwhy – Oh wow. What a great way to think about it.

Luiveton's avatar

@yoshiboshi Actually, after reading all of the responses, I just had a random epiphany. There’s something even better than either complaining to the advisor about something not-so-worth-it or shutting up and having to just take no course of action regarding the subject.
I personally think that complaining won’t make the teacher like you any more that he does now. And resting your case won’t help you either, especially if you’re not keen on carrying out a singular research with no guidance.
So here’s what to do, find the teacher at the end of the day, or if he won’t spare just a few minutes of his time, then confront him during class time. Don’t let him get away. Talk to him about what’s bothering you, maybe it’s just a whole misunderstanding, maybe he has no horrible or careless intentions, but because the events are happening in a consecutive order it makes it seem like that. Get to know him better, just casually converse about issues regarding his actions, and I’m sure you’ll come to terms with some sort of agreement. Make it clear you understand that he is not in any way required to waste his extra time. Just be nice, basically. And make it clear that you genuinely need help, not that you’re just a student who thinks he’s entitled to serve you. Because that’s what he might actually think of all of the students. As @MrItty mentioned he had many arrogant students.
And I’m pretty sure if I had arrogant students, and students with genuine concern, I wouldn’t be able to differentiate between their intentions, I’d end up giving both of them the cold shoulder until one of them actually indicate they need the help because they want it, not because I’m a teacher and ergo their wishes are my command.

yoshiboshi's avatar

@Luiveton – Ya know, I have thought about that. Because, I really don’t hate the professor, I think he is an intelligent guy with a wealth of knowledge, but I am afraid of that option for one reason. He does something that I did not want to mention, because I felt like it was a bit less of a gripe than the others mentioned…. but he likes to argue with students. I just noticed that he is a very bitter guy. I don’t know what it is, but someone mentioned above that he may consider teaching a nuisance, and that is something that I have been thinking about for a while. It just may be that I got a guy who does not want to be there at all and that is just it. :/ I don’t know, maybe I will see how he is next class and make a judgement of whether speaking to him would be a good idea or not.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@yoshiboshi As a graduate student who has done some TAing, I can tell you that it is very easy to make offhand remarks like “I don’t get paid enough”, which to myself are meant as a joke, but then are taken very seriously by the students. My experience is that humour is very seldom appreciated at the undergraduate level, and we generally have to be quite careful in our wording in order not to unintentionally offend the students. This is something that will come to your young professor with time. By all means, explain your concerns in your end of term assessment, but I think that going to your departmental advisor is unnecessarily harsh.

As to your final question about machinery, I think this is a legitimate concern. If he is not comfortable showing you how to do it properly, or even supervising your use of it, this is a serious problem. If you are going to be using this machinery, or anything similarly dangerous again within the class, I would suggest that someone bring it up in the class, so that there can be a discussion about how comfortable the students are with the level of supervision. If not, the end of term assessment is the appropriate place for your complaint.

It is unlikely that anyone is going to pull your prof aside and give him a talking to before your course is over, regardless of what action you take. If enough of you complain in your assessments, it will be clear that the issue is a real one, and it will probably be addressed, particularly if it persists over a few terms. But it is more likely that he is just learning how to teach. This is not something that everyone simply knows how to do out of the box. He will learn from the comments that you put in your assessments, so try to make them constructive.

As an undergraduate, you are expected to succeed despite the abilities of your professors. The responsibility for completing your assignments, etc. is still yours. This is why many people here have been telling you to “grow up”. Try not to take it too personally.

yoshiboshi's avatar

@dappled_leaves – Hm now that you mention it, I can totally understand about the offhand remarks! I have made some myself while teaching, so I guess this is just another perspective on the matter, because now I am the student! I’m not sure at all whether he was joking, because if he was, than those are some stiff jokes :P

I’m not trying to take the “grow up” too personally, I just don’t want to be insulted and talked down to because of something I feel strongly about. I appreciate that some can give their opinions without being rude though. Although I understand that the responsibility is mine (I’ve been in college long enough to know that most things are self-taught, especially the most important things) at times I feel that when a student comes to you seeking your advice on something you say you have expertise in, it should be considered a compliment, not a burden. I asked him because I wanted his expertise advice. Like I said, I think he is smart, and I just wanted him to pass down his knowledge to me.

cazzie's avatar

I think ‘grow up’ was a bit harsh. You could try to be more assertive and more insistent, but you are going to have to learn on your own and not rely on an teacher like this one, and you are going to have more like this, trust me. Find a group of fellow students to work with and you can all help each other. I had a chemistry teacher that was just hopeless, but the group of students I latched on to helped me learn about a subject I really liked DESPITE the lousy teacher.

If you ask once and he can brush you off easily where you just slink away and feel bad, that falls on you. If you persist and really get up in his grill about it, but not in a rude way, just an eager student desperate to learn, he may spend a bit more time with you, but he may not. At least then, when you do the report on his lax attitude, you can be sure you did everything in your power and that the onus was on HIM and not you. Squeaky wheel gets the oil! Mechanical engineering should teach you that fast.

Bellatrix's avatar

-He asked the class if we had concerns about our projects. I said yes and that i wanted to talk to him about it. His phone rang, he put his finger up and said “not right now” and answered the phone. he never returned to me about my concern (it was his girlfriend btw).

He probably just became distracted and moved on. Just quietly approach him after the class and speak to him. No need to make a big fuss about it. He is a human being.

-Me and another student wanted to know if he could give the class a couple extra hours after class to work, and he said “I don’t get paid enough”.

He probably isn’t paid enough to give you specific tuition time. Do you work for nothing? Also, if he agrees to give you an additional two hours of free, one-on-one or two-on-one time, should he do the same for the rest of your class too? There is an equity issue here.

-I asked him if he could show me how to make something specific to my project and he told me to google it (I asked him multiple time to show me because I did not want to use google and he still said no).

He told you to buy a pre-existing part. You want to make something specific but he has advised you it is not necessary for this project. He therefore isn’t going to mark you on your ability to make this specific bracket. Do as he asked.

-I asked him if he could help me use a dangerous equipment and he said “do it yourself”. I asked him if he could at least watch me, to make sure I don’t make mistakes because this was my first time using it, and he still said “do it yourself”.

I agree with the other comments that this is my only area of concern so far. I would ask though, what training or resources have you already been given? Is he going to be in the room when you use this equipment? How many are in your class? Are there other mechanisms for you to obtain one-on-one training to use this equipment? Are you supposed to have already used this equipment before taking this class? In other words, was it specified as pre-requisite knowledge required to take the class?

You are going to come across lecturers who are not warm and fuzzy. You are now working in an adult learning environment. I would need additional information to judge whether he was unreasonable in his refusal to help with the dangerous equipment, but other than that, you are actually being unfair to your tutor.

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