Sunday, March 12, 2006

Math Sucks! Especially My Instructor (TA) & (updated 3/12/06) Professors paid not to teach

Math Sucks! Especially My Instructor!

I have been doing a study on and off for the past few months. It involves the types of classes that college students (mostly seniors) drop after they initially enrolled. Some students told me they waited to long to drop and lost money, others stated they should have dropped because they failed.

There were two basic questions that I asked:
1) If you dropped a class during your stay at this college what was it?
2) What was the reason you dropped the class?

I also had a section for comments.

I gathered over 100 students from four different colleges – Michigan State University, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan & Central Michigan, All are Division I Schools.

Getting the responses was easier than I thought, some I asked, and mostly I used Email addresses. All of these colleges had Email directories from which I chose names at random.

The results so far show Math type classes the overwhelming favorite (87%). I’m not sure I was surprised based on all the stories in all types of media (newspaper, TV, magazines).

There were a variety of reasons but if I had to categorize them I would label the category “Instructor.”

Some of the comments included:
Ø Could not understand (language barrier)
Ø Class size not conducive to learning
Ø Teaching Assistant (TA) does not know how to teach
Ø Professor does not teach uses a Grad Student (knows math but can’t teach)
Ø No standards between instructors (one does no reviews and leaves all learning up to you, while a different instructor teaching the same class goes all out for students.
Ø GPAs at risk because instructor says he can run his class any way he wants.
Ø If you can’t keep up drop the class, not my fault you can’t learn.

qualityg says … I have written on this subject before (we'll be watching you), especially inept math instructors.

The arrogance and absolute power shown in some of these statements about their instructors is sickening.

Students have little recourse. Administration does not respond in a timely fashion in order to help students in immediate need of help. Students have enough stress without having to fight with college administrators over their failure to get good instructors.

Am I wrong, I thought the student was the customer (honor roll for instructors)? The college pays for less than adequate instructors who produce less than adequate teachers who then get jobs in our high schools and teach less than adequate math skills. The college complains the high schools are sending students not prepared for college math. Seems to be a cyclical type system problem here with the student as the loser in all scenarios.

P/s – I will say it again, why are we paying for grad assistants and TAs to teach our children when it should be the professor. College administrators protect their own (instructors). They know students come and go and besides if the students fail or drop the class to late they will get more money when the student has to retake the course.

Sad, very sad, do something right and start having independent educators assess your instructors.

I can't wait to get the Emails from Math Instructors - Bring it on Puppy Dogs!

UPDATE 3/12/06

Professors paid not to teach
I have been complaining and writing about this problem for a long time. I was glad to open the front page of the Sunday Detroit News and read this excellent story by Paul Egan Professors don't teach of the Detroit News.

Sabbaticals cost ailing Mich. schools $23.2M; universities say they're needed to recruit top talent.
Following are some highlights and comments from the article:

Pros & Cons

  • Proponents say sabbaticals give faculty time to do research, travel and attract grants.
  • Critics say professor workloads are low and paying them to be absent is wrong when college costs for students are on the rise.

qualityg says ... first priority is educating students, all else is BS, send your TAs and Grad Students to do research. If they are smart enough to teach our children they are smart enough to do research and recruit. I'm sick of paying high tuition at a major university for second rate instructors. If a TA or Grad Student teaches a class the tuition should be lowered to compensate for their lack of experience and knowledge.

I enjoyed this statement from one of the worst offenders:

Gayle Davis, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Grand Valley State, said "professors at research universities such as U-M and Michigan State have lower teaching loads than nonresearch universities and also offer leaves of absence other than sabbaticals that professors can use to do research. Those are a couple of the reasons a school such as hers might top research universities in its rate of sabbaticals, Davis said."

Professors work hard, probably 60 hours a week on average at Grand Valley State, Davis said. However, "we have faced this kind of lack of understanding in the public since time began."

qualityg says ... Well, time began? Gosh, I'm sure that statement clears things up. By what method do you make that assumption Ms. Davis?

You lack the understanding that you and other universities and colleges promote a higher education for our students and then fill the clasroom with student teachers at our expense.

"since time began" - what a joke!


Anonymous said...

You have a few good points, but I hardly think it's as bad as you claim.


Anonymous said...

It's worse than qg claims. I am a student who carries a 3.92 GPA at one of the schools mentioned (big one) and I had to drop my math class because the TA (guess what he is 23 years old)thinks he is smarter than anyone and made me feel dumb if I asked a question!

He also said if I cant't do the work I won't survive in the real world. At 23 does he have any idea what the real world is? 2+2 does not always equal 4 in the real word Egbert!

Anonymous said...

I'm Bill from Boulder Colorado abd I can tell you it is the same at my college.

I had to drop a geometry and algebra II class because I could not understand my professor. retook them last summer and passed but it costs me money to go to scholl rather than work.

I'm sending your blog to the head of my schools Math Department.

Anonymous said...

"While I empathize with those who are struggling to catch up, it
is not my responsibility, but that of the student to be prepared for each and every class."

Math Instructor - 2006

qualityg says said...

Math Instructor,

Thanks for proving my point!

It's your job to educate not pass judgement.


Anonymous said...

My professor "is" in class, that doesn't mean he teaches if you know what I mean.