You’ve probably had your share of good and bad professors by now. What should you do if you have a real problem with a professor? When should you seek out someone’s help?
This week I’ll discuss some of the issues that I’d classify as legitimate complaints and next week I’ll outline what to do if you have a problem with a professor.
I consider the following to be issues worth pursuing:
- Syllabus issues. The syllabus is considered to be a contract between the professor and the student. As a dean, one of the first things I do when a student complains about a faculty member or their grade in a class is ask to see the syllabus. The worst is if there is no syllabus at all, but giving a syllabus that is missing key components like how you will be graded, not following the syllabus, or constantly changing the syllabus are all problematic.
- Wastes class time. A good professor never has enough class time. A professor who repeatedly cancels class, shows up late, tells unrelated stories, or lets the class out early is not giving students their money’s worth. It’s also not cool at all for a professor to change the day/time when the class meets, whether for one day or the rest of the semester, unless every single student agrees to the change.
- Is not available. Most professors are required to hold a certain number of office hours per week. Even adjunct professors are expected to at least answer e-mail and/or return voicemail in a timely manner.
- Assignment or grading issues. You might think it’d be awesome to have a class where you just showed up and everyone got A’s, but any professor who does this is not doing the students any favors. The professor should be assigning work at the appropriate level for the course and grading it in a consistent and timely manner. If the course is hands on like a lab, a studio art course, or a clinical experience, it’s also important that students are provided with the proper materials to complete the assignments/ experiments.
- Is disrespectful or discriminates. These are the types of student complaints that will be taken the most seriously, especially those about course policies that are unfair or any behavior that could be considered harassment.
If you have a professor with any of the above issues, take action and voice your concerns sooner rather than later before the problem gets worse. The end of the semester is too late for any real solution, but often students don’t complain until after they’ve received a bad grade or they wait and complain on the evaluation.
Stay tuned for what to do….