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rking1487's avatar

How should I approach my teacher?

Asked by rking1487 (494points) March 31st, 2008 from iPhone

I am in a math class and my college teacher has a horrible teaching style. He will cover material and you will be tested on it a month later. For example what our test will be on today is material we haven’t seen in a month. It is 16 week class so I don’t see the need to cram and rush. Anyone have recommendations or have experience on how I should handle this?

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14 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

Not much you can do. You can’t change the way he teaches.

And why bother paying for school if you are going to forget everything after the test?

Edit :: Basically you need to cram when you have a test. Everyone that graduates has to do it.

lovelyy's avatar

i agree with johnpowell.
teachers are usually stubborn when asked to change.
i would say write some great notes and learn little tricks.

nocountry2's avatar

I would point this out, as well as offer several suggestions for improvement, when you fill out his evaluation. Perhaps also note that his current method seems inconsequential to long- term learning/ retention.

Les's avatar

I hate to tell you this, but this is not strange. I like to say that I am in 18th grade now, and this is exactly the kind of teacher I have always come in contact with. Especially in math. The best advice I can give you is to just know that this is what he does, to be prepared for it for the rest of the term. If it is really something that is causing problems (academically) for you and others in the class, I would suggest ONE of you sending him an email saying something like: “A few of us are concerned with the way the class is progressing, and wonder if you would consider meeting with a couple of us to discuss how we can remedy the situation.” Let it be his decision, and the reason I say ONE of you is because I am personally very against groups of students “ganging” up on one professor. And if he agrees to meet with you, only send one or two people to go talk to him. He will be more comfortable. Odds are that he probably has no idea that this could be causing any confusion for the class. He knows the material, and can’t understand what it is to not know the material. But, if he is anything like any of the professors I have had, he won’t change and you can “either do it his way, or you can do it his way.” But, I don’t think it would hurt to ask him if you could discuss some options.

rking1487's avatar

I have the 3rd highest grade in the class with a 71% and the average is in the low 60’s. I guess I was looking for a different learning experience in college then high school. I’m still an under grad so I guess this is high school part deux. I feel like I’m not learning the valuable information but rather going through the motions of getting a good grade which doesn’t always translate to actually learning. I guess I have a problem with the system not the teacher?

jrpowell's avatar


OK.. That is really bad. Your teacher has problems. I have had a few that were like that. I always did my best to get by and avoided taking another class with them.

Les's avatar

I have a problem with the system, too. I hate the way some people think of “education”. Just do the best you can, learn it the way you can learn it, and go through the motions. I know it sucks, but you can do it. Eventually you will understand what you need to to do the job you choose to do. I never took chemistry in undergrad, and now I am slowly becoming an atmospheric chemist. It is strange, but I find that there are some things I remember very well (incidentally the things that were taught very well), and everything else just falls away. But, I still think you could talk to him. Like I said before, he probably has no idea that you are having an issue with the schedule of exams. By telling him, it will put the idea in his head, and he may make some changes.

TheHaight's avatar

I was going through the Exact same thing you are right now last month but took the easy way out and dropped the class, because I know myself and am HORRIBLE at math and the teacher could care less about me or anyone else.
At least your still in the class, and not giving up like me. I hate taking these math classes you really just dont need but I shouldn’t have given up. There isn’t much you can do besides like what john Powell said; cramming a few days before and avoiding that teacher next semester/quarter. Oh! And also going on: “link” !!Good luck!!! :)

cwilbur's avatar

It sounds to me like you have two issues: first, the long period between the lecture and the exam, and second, the difficulty of the exam.

This is standard college fare. First off, especially in math classes, you’ll probably get no more than two exams a semester. This is part of the reason that homework problem sets are so important, together with the responsibility for your own learning and time management. In short, learning the material is your problem, and so you need to have the responsibility to keep on top of the material and take the initiative to go see the professor or teaching assistant if you’re lost.

In particular, this is not high school, part 2: in high school, the teachers give tests every two to three weeks because that way they can step in and help you if you’re not aware enough to realize you’re failing. In college, the teachers give tests twice a semester so that they have a fair evaluation to use in calculating your grade, and if you’re not aware enough to realize you’re failing, you’ll hopefully discover that awareness by the next time you take the class. The learning experience is what you make of it; if you sit back and expect to be spoon-fed like you were in high school, that’s all you’ll find.

And having a 71% average? Look at the syllabus to see how he grades. He may not automatically translate percentages to letter grades; he may grade based on distribution of grades in the class. When I was teaching college, I used to give one incredibly difficult test per semester—telling students that they should consider a 30% a decent grade on it—because that was the best way for me to figure out who was really mastering the material. Because of the way I calculated semester grades, this didn’t hurt anyone, but I usually spent most of the class hour after I handed the exam back reassuring people of that.

robmandu's avatar

@rking, man, I had a Numerical Methods teacher like that for a short time. He just graded on a curve. And it was demoralizing and frustrating. Some put up with it… I was lucky enough to find another section with a slightly better instructor.

Looking back, I just treat the whole thing as a learning experience. In the real world, not everything is taught to us perfectly. In many cases, you have to fight your way thru a bunch of superfluous crap.

Shouldn’t be that way. But learn the lessons you can where you can… even when (they seem) unexpected and unfair.

gailcalled's avatar

@rking; I dropped math at Partial Differential Equations in college because the young woman was inexperienced, nervous and a mumbler. Her hands and voice shook; I should have followed Les’ advice but was too much of a wuss in those days. Another approach is to discuss the issue respectfully w. the Dept. Chairman. And if you do talk to the teacher by yourself, make sure you have a few other students who agree w. you.

Keep us posted.

TennesseeTeacake's avatar

just be careful what you say. he could hold it against you if he feels like youre attacking him.

rking1487's avatar

The other students in the class want to throw him off the island. I think it is a lost cause to talk with him because there is another student who openly complains about the way he has organized the curriculum all the time. Today he yelled at her and got very defensive about his teaching methods that he has used for 25+ years.

@cwilbur: We have three tests and a final that account for 90% of the grade and the rest of the grade is homework and attendance. The percentage grade translates directly to a letter grade.

Grisson's avatar

The trick with math is that you cannot really ‘study’ for it. Cramming doesn’t work well. Studying and cramming are techniques for memorizing stuff. Math is all about learning the skill of logical thinking. Like learning tennis or guitar, it’s really all about ‘practice, practice, practice’. I suggest you get the appropriate Schaum’s workbook (or equivalent) for your class and use it as a practice guide.

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