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nimarka1's avatar

How do I tell my teacher her class is boring?

Asked by nimarka1 (942points) January 31st, 2013 from iPhone

So I’m taking a Marine Biology class at a community college. I have taken several classes between different colleges my last 4 years so I have had a lot of experiences with different professors/teachers. I have always kept good relationships with them, ask questions for help, etc. I took marine biology in high school and remembered how much I loved it, which is why I signed up for this class as my lab credit. I can tell my teacher knows her stuff and is passionate about it, exept the way she teaches sucks. Her classes aren’t really that boring, but she doesn’t engage her students. When she does ask questions, no one in class knows how or what to answer (crickets in the background)
So: her lectures are long (2 hour lecture, and after a 3 hour lab) nonstop, extremely detailed which makes me uncertain of what I do or do not need to know for our exams.
How can I approach my teacher and tell her in a positive way, without offending that her teaching methods…suck. She is incredibly knowledgeable, she is SO nice. Sooo nice, but…you get the idea. If she doesn’t know it’s her methods that aren’t the best, and no one tells her, how can she change? I feel like I’m doing her a favor, letting her know. But I don’t want to offend her, or cross a line in any way. If only she had more interactive activities, in class projects, group work, her students would be more engaged. How can I tell her this?
Any ideas?

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17 Answers

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Put what you just said very politely in writing and give it to her. Suggest a more interactive approach with all due respect!

josie's avatar

I can tell my teacher knows her stuff and is passionate about it

She is incredibly knowledgeable, she is SO nice. Sooo nice

Her classes aren’t really that boring

Sounds halfway decent to me
Is this about your teacher, or is it all about you?

cookieman's avatar

Knowledgeable check
Passionate check
Nice Person check
Engaging XX

Not all teachers are your ideal, but she sounds pretty good.

You could send along a nice note (as suggested above), but you may well see no change in your class. She may, if at all, incorporate your suggestions into her next class.

susanc's avatar

Do NOT tell her that her classes a “boring”. Do NOT try to tell her how to teach. This would be rude. Instead, just tell her that you and some other students don’t “know how or what to answer” when she asks questions after lectures. Let her ask you why not, then you can tell her there’s too much information all at once, or whatever you’re noticing. Make your critique limited, definite, and phrased as a request for help, not as a critique. As the student, you have a legitimate right to ask for help, but she hasn’t asked you for any, so don’t offer it. This is a boundary rule.

Bellatrix's avatar

Do you not get asked to provide feedback – anonymously – at the end of the semester? If you do get that opportunity tell her what you found problematic, give a couple of examples and perhaps suggest what might have worked better for you. In other words don’t just criticize. Explain what didn’t work for you, provide some evidence and suggestions for things she might do differently that would have helped you learn.

Pandora's avatar

Why don’t you try engaging her? Teachers look for sign of life but if all she gets is crickets then she will just continue on.
If you know a head of time what the next topics will entail, then look some information up and be ready for her.
As for what she will probably ask on test? It will probably be those things that she has already asked in class.

gailcalled's avatar

Give her a copy of Don Finkel’s Teaching With Your Mouth Shut, one of the great books for teachers who talk too much and keep their students too silent and too stationary.

(Disclaimer; Finkel is my brother.)

If you don’t want to embarrass her, leave it as an anonymous gift.

flo's avatar

Don’t let her know that you think her class is boring, that is all I know for sure.

livelaughlove21's avatar

You don’t. You either deal with it or take another course. We all have professors that don’t teach just as we think they should. It’s her style, and who says it should change? Maybe some other students prefer her method to the ones you like.

I, for one, can’t stand classes with group projects or team activities. I steer clear of those classes because I learn best lecture-style and I don’t like wasting my time working with some half-assed students on something I can do better on my own. I’m in college for a degree, not to make friends and pretty project posters.

We all have different learning styles, just like all professors have different teaching styles. You not liking hers doesn’t make it bad or wrong. And, at a community college, I’d just be glad my professors give a shit about the subject they’re teaching and that they’re qualified to teach it.

As for not being sure what is and us not important during detailed lectures, that’s something you could easily ask her about without attacking her teaching skills.

Bellatrix's avatar

As a professor at a university I very much appreciate constructive feedback on the content of my classes, my teaching style and my students’ perception of my teaching. People do have different learning styles and if my approach is not meeting the needs of even one student, I want to know. If I am told there is a problem I can adapt my technique or the tutorial activities to involve that person more. If people feel too afraid to say ‘I don’t get what you are talking about’ I won’t know my message isn’t getting through until I mark the papers and see someone performed very badly. Even then some teachers may not consider their teaching was a contributing factor.

Furthermore, sometimes students feel too intimidated to say anything there and then or even while the course is running. Some students think they will be marked down if they dare to speak up. Hence, I place a lot of value on genuinely asking students to complete my university’s formal evaluation process at the end of each semester. I ask for informal feedback during the semester too. At my university, student feedback contributes to whether you are promoted or not. If that’s the case for this academic she would probably prefer to hear from students while she can fix things than get bad evaluations that affect her chances of promotion.

glacial's avatar

As a university student, I assumed that end of semester evaluations were simply a formality, and that they were a necessity for the university, of little interest to the professor. Now that I’ve taught a little at the university level, I realize that teachers absolutely read these, and that constructive criticism is greatly (and widely) appreciated.

I would suggest that you not try to give your teacher some personal letter or book. This either directly or passive-aggressively implies that you think she is such a bad teacher that you can’t wait for formal evaluations to express that. Particularly if she is a new-ish teacher, this can be quite hurtful. She is probably not going to be able to make adjustments to her lectures for this semester anyway. Just wait until the evaluations are handed out, and write your comments there. They will be anonymous, and delivered after your grade has been determined. They will be read and appreciated, as long as they are constructive and not simply a list of complaints. Speak honestly about what you liked, and what improvements you think would make the class better.

HolographicUniverse's avatar

While I support end of semester evaluations, that will not be beneficial to the student if she is having issues currently.

First off every teacher, like other influential figures, will have advantages and flaws (which will gain supporters and critics). Teaching requires certain skills while some attributes may outweigh others in the individual. That being said it just seems like you are one of those critics as opposed to it being a major issue that affects the entire class. What I’d suggest you do, if her teaching style is interfering with your learning, is approach her and inform her of your concerns so that her flaws won’t cause you to fail. However if it’s something minor in which you can understand the material then share your suggestions at the end.
The thing is though is that in modern times alot of the material is cut and dry, as well as easily accessible so you don’t really hear of “boring teachers” causing bad grades

glacial's avatar

@HolographicUniverse The OP is a university student. The “teaching style” is not interfering with her learning. At this level (perhaps arguably at any level), boring teachers don’t cause bad grades.

HolographicUniverse's avatar

That’s my point… And in that case she needs to wait until the end of semester evaluations

Pachy's avatar

I pondered this question for a few days, thinking back on my own school experience, and have decided to advise you not to say anything to her. Accept her teaching style for what it is and take from the course as much knowledge as you can. If, as you say, she knows her stuff and is passionate about it, I think you’re fortunate to be in her class. One more thought: “Boring” is largely subjective. Other students in the class may think otherwise.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Just one of the things you have to deal with in college unfortunately. Some teachers are great others not so much. You have two options, learn to deal with her teaching style and try and learn as much as you can, or drop it and take it again next semester with another teacher.

I ended up doing that when I took cells and molecules. I had a teacher who was from what I could tell, extremely intelligent and passionate about cellular life. He was also it seemed so into his field that he felt a lot of the subject matter should be obvious to us students. Like he cared about it so much that he couldn’t understand why all of us hadn’t been studying cellular biology our whole lives. It kinda seemed like teacher was just something he had to do to get funding for research. As a result I was doing poor in this class. Yea I could have tried extra hard read the book studied my ass off and got a good grade but I decided to just drop it. I retook the class this past semester with a much better teacher who constantly engaged the class in thoughtful discussion and got a B+ :)

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