My Beautiful Wickedness


Rate My Professor
May 21, 2007, 10:59 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I love this one:

“Bridgett is interested in the corse. She cracks dumb jokes all the time that she only laughs at. Her tests are easy if you do the reading and attend class. She asigns a one page write response to all the readig she asigns. This is the clases downfall, there is alot of reading. She asigns entire books do for classes. I want my semester back.”

Me too, kid. Me too.

Another one said that my tutor was hot, but me not so much. I’m trying to figure out where that would go on my yearly summative report.

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8 Comments so far
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On the plus side, I had a student write on an evaluation of my course that “I laughed, I cried, it was better than ‘Cats'” and that the only way to improve it would be a Continental Breakfast.

If you want to see how much they think I suck, head over to myspace to the “Grade Your Professor” area. I get a C+ becuse I am so booorrriiinnnggg. Hell, the person whose contract we just, uh , “failed to renew” got an A+.

Of course, someone on the same site praised my colleague Ashley Whitfield for the quality of HER discussions. Ashley is a man.

Comment by Gerald

My mom was a college professor who taught drawing, painting, printmaking and art history and usually chaired the Art Dept. (just retired after 25 years of teaching). I witnessed the student evaluations every year. It can be a bitch. She always got a lot of praise, and also a lot of criticism from failing students who took it as such an affront that Mom expected them to *gasp* show up for classes! and *horrors!* actually turn in assignments! Mom had tenure, so it wasn’t going to topple her, but she always took student disapproval really hard.

Comment by Nick Dupree

One tries to approach this with empathy. No one likes to fail and not every prof-student interaction is going to be great. Still, I don’t think that low grades are the ultimate predictor of who is going to slam me on a evaluation. After studying a bunch of evals (I’ve been doing this for fifteen years now), I’ve concluded that students want to be treated with fairness, understanding, and consistency. If they perceive you playing favorites or feel like they aren’t getting a fair shake or can’t figure out the grading standards, then that’s the kiss of death. I don’t really worry so much about the “OMG, you told us there was going to be a ton of reading and by golly there was” evals — college is about reading a lot, writing a lot, and thinking a lot and if you don’t want to do that, maybe you should do something else for a while until you do.

Oh, and Art profs have it bad because of the perceived subjectivity of evaluation. And women have it harder because angry students have a larger vocabulary of slurs to sling — go through any college’s evals and the number of gender-related criticisms (she isn’t pretty, she didn’t dress well, she is a bitch, she is a slut because we talk about the cultural history of sexuality, she should stay home with her kids, things that amount to “she didn’t treat me with the same love and compassion that I expect from my mother”) that female professors have to tune out to do their jobs is pretty incredible.

Comment by bridgett

Is that the general writing style of the average college student? Is that NOT an elaborate Dada-esque joke, using subliterary irony to critique a professor?

My eyes bleed.

Comment by Katherine Coble

No, Kat, that’s not the general level of preparation at my school. Some people do come in their first year without much of a sense of grammatical propriety or without knowing how to spell long words, but with the help of ENG 105, their spellcheck function, and a whole lot of head-pounding on my part, they usually either pull it together by the second year or go elsewhere. New York schools are considered pretty good, nationally speaking, so we don’t have students arriving illiterate as was sometimes the case with kids who came to the University of Iowa from Missouri.

So, the delightful part of this one (beyond what is said) is the crazy bad spelling and syntax. This sort of student represents probably 10% of the students I get and I probably spend 50% of my time working with their papers and doing out-of-class one-on-one tutoring to get them up to speed. So one of the bittersweet realities that I didn’t mention is that it’s likely that I knew this student quite well and spent a lot of time beyond what I am contractually
required to do trying to help him or her improve her performance. It’s really a “no good deed goes unpunished” situation, as it appears that he or she would have rather that I just let him or her fail without making all sorts of bothersome demands for homework and papers and stuff.

I know that there’s at least a couple more profs among my readers; they’ve probably had different experiences.

Comment by bridgett

Oh, the complaints about reading, always those. You can tell them straight up at the beginning of the semester that it’s a history class and that means there will be a lot more reading than they’re used to, and you can point out that the school expects them to spend at least two hours out of class reading/writing for each hour the class meets, and you can tell them how easy it really is if they just keep up with the reading, but they always comment on how much reading they had to do.

Like you, Bridgett, I have found that the evaluation doesn’t necessarily correlate to the grade. I mean, sure, most of the students who have done poorly in classes I’ve taught did poorly because they wouldn’t do the work, and you do get a few “I hate this teacher because she meant what it said on the syllabus” evaluations, but most students who were trying point out how you (tried to) help them do better. Or they’ll say that they wouldn’t have taken the class if it hadn’t been required, and they still don’t love the subject (I know, they’re crazy), but you made it fun to come to class and they even learned a little something.

Comment by nm

My experiences are probably a little different. I teach at a community college in rural NC. A lot of our students have preparatory needs and most of them were not the folks in the college-prep courses in high school. The majority of my students are writing at a much better level that what we see in the evaluation, but I’ve always got a few who are right at that level. Spell-check weeds out some of this, but it also introduces a whole new level of errors when students hit the “replace” button but do not know what the word they are using actually means. I make them do a lot of writing, though, and many of my kids are also taking thier basic English course at the same time they are taking Western or World Civ (my bread-and-butter courses), so I frequently see dramatic improvement over the semester.

Comment by Gerald

I initially read this right after reading some guy’s account of teaching at Stillman, and I have to say that the two things back to back created a huge sense of disappointment in me.

I don’t know why.

It’s really a “no good deed goes unpunished” situation, as it appears that he or she would have rather that I just let him or her fail without making all sorts of bothersome demands for homework and papers and stuff.

If you haven’t read it already, don’t read the Stillman prof’s account. It’ll either frustrate you or make you sad.

Comment by Katherine Coble




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