I’m not usually one to outright complain about a professor’s style of teaching. I tend to just brute force my way through a class if there’s some element I don’t enjoy.
Now, that might be a surprise for those of you who remember various complaints about my Psychology professors last semester.
Well… Apparently I’ve just had a terrible track record with the Psychology department.
Because my complaint for the day happens to come from my Cognitive Psych class.
Let’s set the scene.
After finishing our lecture on Chapter 2, she decided to tell us about our required paper and presentation so we could be ready when the due dates start to roll around.
Each of us were grouped together with one partner. We do a presentation on a specific topic together, while each writing separate essays to ensure nobody gets wholly screwed by a partner that does no work.
The professor led her discussion on the essay portion by telling us we need to find three research papers or scholarly articles, one of which is a jointly researched piece to form the basis of our presentation.
She presented that information as though the group would only need three papers researched all together.
What she meant was that each person individually needs to have three papers for their essay. One of which can be the joint presentation paper.
Thus, all together we need five research papers for each group. When you explain it like that, the concept makes sense. However, by starting off telling the class we’d need three papers, then later telling us we’d need five, and generally not making it explicitly clear that only one of those papers can be shared…
Let’s just say she wound up getting a whole lot of questions.
Yet somehow it got more confusing. While we were all trying to figure out what the hell she meant in the first place, she started to let us know that we could take a less work-heavy paper if we wanted. All we had to do was tell her.
Naturally every single college student in the room said, “yeah we want less work.”
So she lowered the requirements. Now each group needed three papers, with each individual only needing two papers for their essay.
I can’t complain about the lessened workload, but dropping that sudden and seemingly random change on us while we still didn’t understand the original assignment was not such a great decision.
After I left class, while crossing the windy tundra between the Humanities building and College Park, I thought a lot about it. There had to be a simpler way to explain what we were doing.
So it hit me:
All you needed to say was that each person is writing an essay that needs three (or two as it became) research papers for background information.
Then that one of those papers can be shared between the two group members, the same one that will become the focus of the topic presentation on an assigned date.
It’s honestly that simple.
So why did this seemingly unimportant bit of confusion from poor explaining stick in my craw? To the point that I felt the need to write all about it, anyway.
Well… Part of the reason is because it was either this or the State of the Union address that I haven’t honestly bothered to watch yet.
The rest of my day hasn’t been very exciting.
The other part of why I decided to talk about this moment was because of how it took on a more frustrating face by my professor smiling and (if you ask me, somewhat sassily) expressing her confusion at what we found so confusing.
To some extent I can let it slide because English clearly isn’t her first language. So I have no qualms believing she may have thought her explanation was perfectly adequate.
But when literally the entire class is so obviously confused and asking a variety of questions, it seems kind of cheeky to smile and laugh as though we were completely at fault.
Maybe it’s just me, but that kind of attitude just bugs me from… Well, anyone. Though from someone I’m there to learn from especially.
Based on prior experience, it seems like the language barrier issues might just be a big problem throughout the semester.
So maybe my Psychology experience has been cursed all along.
Before I go, I also wanted to mention this neat little tidbit I missed out on yesterday:
Happy birthday, blog!
And thanks to all of you who keep reading these things. Whether they’re goofy and full of life or annoyed and full of spite.
I really appreciate it.
Featured Image courtesy of Missmarettaphotography via Wikimedia Commons