My Unfair Disadvantage

I nervously handed in my MMS 172 assignment on a Friday night. I had no idea what my professor wanted in the blog because the criteria was not discussed. I had a template which was hell of a tough one to match because he’s a professor and I’m not even a multimedia idiot. Even worse, when I shared my opinions in class, the professor usually made me feel stupid, especially if we didn’t share the same ideas as is the case even for the rest of my classmates. But I did the best I could, and wrote what I thought my professor would agree with in hopes of getting a passing mark, the most I could hope for in this course, I believe.

For the first time in my OU life, I’m feeling deeply disadvantaged. This term I am taking 2 multimedia courses. To make matters worse, I am the only non-multimedia major in both classes. I am trying my  best to cope and catch up with the requirements and the discussions.

There are discussions to which I am inherently unable to contribute due to the nature  and subject i.e., gears talk and tips, but I do join in and give my two cents on every other topic.

At this point, I find it appalling and unjust that I am being rated with the same criteria, and that the same standards apply to me as the rest of my class who are composed mostly of sound engineers or technicians, video editors, web designers, musicians and artists. I hadn’t even heard of a Digital Audio Hardware before I enrolled in this class, yet for some strange stroke of unpropitiousness, my professor expects me to churn out a blog post on Digital Audio Hardware in the same quality as that of a sound engineering technician or even better. Is it not possible for me to be rated on my individual learning and development and not be pitted against unreal standards and myopic view of intelligence.

I reckon many students encounter an unfair professor at some point during their education, and the criteria varies widely. The educator may have little availability outside of class, a confusing grading system, vague and unrealistic expectations, or favor certain classmates. Although this is a common experience, some students don’t know how to approach the situation or even whom to turn to for help. Therefore, they may ignore the problem, and the professor isn’t even aware that students are having issues.

To say that I am having a rough time with this course is a gross understatement. Not only is the professor unclear about assignment requirements, but also with the grading system.

He doesn’t know how to teach. He would post lectures, discussions questions, assignments and not-so-friendly reminders in a condescending tone and get angry with us for not meeting his criteria and standards for grading which was not and has never been discussed, and has managed to almost always make us feel incompetent idiots who is not worthy of being labeled a UP student. I feel like there is no set method to his grading and he just revels in the power he has over us and his unquestioned and unrivaled expertise for the mere sadistic nature of the experience. And even though he gave us a guideline, he didn’t follow them. I followed his template to a tee as did everyone in class, and yet he was still grossly unsatisfied.

When he posted this feedback in the portal, I was genuinely disappointed, confused and irked by the manner in which he was conducting himself as an FIC. I expected more from him because I’ve had nothing but noteworthy experiences in my EDS courses. My classmates, much to my aghast chagrin, were all too subservient and apologetic. I honestly still could not understand how they could just lap up such unprofessionalism and unbecoming behavior, speech and language. How could they, I thought, when they had not been exposed to anything other than this idealistic, traditional teaching philosophy?

I wish I could talk to this professor about the course in general and my grades not in an effort to raise my grades or to ask for undue consideration but to clarify and set things straight, but I’d rather not because I feel the professor isn’t open and lest I earn his ire even more and he starts taking it out on me by giving me a failing grade.

At the risk of sounding like a griping lazy-assed student who feels a sense of academic entitlement, I do feel that this is unfair. It’s not a good experience and I don’t know what to do about it.

I believe both student and professor/teacher/trainer come in to a class, each with a different set of expectations. It becomes crucial that those expectations are clarified, otherwise a student may experience problems. It’s a two-way street.

Professors should be both clear and realistic in their expectations for a class.

While it’s important for students to approach their professors, professors should maintain their positions and be aware of their students. If a student isn’t doing well and hasn’t approached them yet, it then becomes the professor’s responsibility to reach out to the student without shaming them or making them feel incompetent for not turning in an output that does not match the professor’s unreal  expectations or failing to ask for assistance or clarifications when doing so would merit nothing but a smart-ass “you-should-know-this-by-now, haven’t-you-learned-anything” response.

Across the board, I think you could consider it a foundational assumption that faculty would be expected to reach out to students to say, ‘Hey I’ve noticed you didn’t do too well on the last test, is there anything we could be doing?’” I believe it’s the professor’s job to create an environment where students feel comfortable asking questions about course content and grades.

It’s important to establish general grading criteria up front and reinforce them before each assignment, especially if different or new criteria apply to avoid the ‘I-didn’t-know-what-the-professor- wanted’ excuse/response. It’s our job to make that clear.

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