Bad Teachers

I am concerned about my education as any student should be. I was reading posts here about how students should take the initiative and try to get the best out of their education.

I have a concern about the quality of education I am getting from one of my teacher. I am currently taking an industrial design course and many of my classmates agree with my opinion regarding our teacher. Our teacher seems like he doesn’t really want to be in our class. He comes in and makes us do drawing exercises while he is on his computer working on other things. He doesn’t walk around to see if we are stuck or need any help. When we do ask for help, his responses are negative and non-constructive. His attitude and remarks towards the students tend to always be negative (he told one student he had mental problems when he was stuck with one assignment).

This is week 3 and we still do not have a syllabus. He assigns homework and then we don’t talk about it in class or have crits. He is unprepared most of the time.

Needless to say, there are other things which are bothering me about his teaching style. The reason for posting this is to ask for any advice on how to approach this situation. Any ideas would help my frustration.


the way you should approach this will have a lot to do with the teacher at hand’s seniority level. Is he the head of the department? Is he a TA? Is he tenured? etc. Each one of these levels may require a different level of diplomacy and engagement of other faculty within the department,
the first step MAY be just to find non-confrontational ways of asking him.
This will probably fair much better if there are several students approaching him so he realizes it is not just a few students who may have problems, but maybe it is him.

Sounds to me like he may be working towards a deadline on some of his own projects, or looking for another job??? Neither of which should be an excuse for his apparent disregard of his class.

I’m not sure what his rank is. All i know is that he is relatively new to the department. I was thinking of maybe talking to one of my other professors about this and seeing what he suggests.

it sounds like most of my days at the office.

perhaps unusual in school, but if your not in a co-op / internship situation you might want to look at it as real world experience and do your best.

ask some other students who took his class their opinion. could be just that you are not familiar with his teaching style, or dont know what to expect. not all teachers will have the same teaching methods. unorthodox means can sometimes help to shake things up and bring out your best rather than being coddled and hand held.

what level is the course?


It’s a 200 level course. There are no other students who have taken his class since this is his first year teaching at my university. He has been teaching for many years though. If this is supposed to be real world experience, then why have a teacher? I would much rather have independent study.

It sounds like a terrific (Korean) transportation professor I had at NC State! But our misunderstandings of him were more driven by his language troubles then anything else. I loved him. Pretty soon, I adopted his language style as my own. To wit:

“That’s pretty very okay.”

“That’s not pretty bad!”

“Oh, I think you have mental defect. It make you crazy in the head!” [Okay, I may have embellished that last one]

In all seriousness, maybe speak to other students. But don’t say anything you wouldn’t want him to hear second-hand!



If this is a fairly consistent complaint across the class, I would select a couple of other classmates to compare notes with and schedule a meeting with the head of the department and all three of you.

This is the guys first year teaching at your school. The head of the department has no idea how well your instructor is teaching. The instructor may have come across great in the interview, and had great references (who gives the number to bad references), but the feedback you give the head of the department will be invaluable. I think it is your responsibility to your education to inform the department if it is really that bad.

Someone mentioned it is similar to some work experiences, but an education you pay for, a job, they pay you…

If there is a simple misunderstanding, the department head should be able to guide you through that, if not, he should be able to take action. It that doesn’t work, take it to the dean.

That sounds bad. Don’t you have your own student adviser? He/she will be the best person to approach first. He/she may even be able to solve it on your behalf.

I had a teacher in my freshman intro to trans class. Basically, he didn’t know how to teach at all. What I mean is, he doesn’t know how to communicate his ideas to students. So all semester long, I was all confused and frustrated, not knowing if I am doing it right or wrong.

So on the very last class of the semester, I brought ALL of the sketches and rendering I did for that class to him. I piled it on the instructor’s desk, and asked him to comment on my progress throughout the entire semester.

He flipped through the pile, and said,“Ok, I know where you are…” Followed by silence… I was like DUDE, I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU, not for you to know and not tell me! So I firmed up my attitude and asked him to give me specific feedbacks.

Just at this moment, a classmate came to the desk to check out what’s going on, and my instructor, conveniently grabbed this opportunity, turned to him and said,“So what do you think?”

This said instructor has been teaching in that school for a long time I heard, and he still is, doing horrible job as ever. I almost choked when I heard he was giving Alias classes…

You should definitely take this to the dean (or whatever they are called over there).

The Univesity has a strong interest to know how their teachers perform, since it adds to their reputation.

For example, at our school, the students give notes to the teacher at the end of each class/course, so that the university knows how they performed. If you were not good, your out. Simple as that.

It is their job to teach you. How they do it is their thing, but in the end you should have learned a lot. And even better if this happend in a convenient style.

I used to have a few teachers like you mention… what I did was i just ignore them and do my work. Unless they were bullies, you will still have a way around them. It appears that every college has a couple of these people. You can’t really do much if they are really there 'cos one should ask the question: if they are so crap how come they are there ??

Obviously they have some strong hold in the department. So if you can hang in there, hang in. If you want to try complaining up, try once and see how the response is like. If its no good, take 2 steps back and ask if you should consider transfer.

During my years of study, I had one racist in one year that really made hell out of my life that I almost had a nervous breakdown. Luckily, somehow I was able to learn from praying and from walking into the great plains of nature to understand how to come out of it.

It probably was the best education ever that no amount of money can buy.

Best wishes

If you have a altruistic side play the social responsibility card. Any school that is socially responsible should address your concerns. However given the plastic nature of social responsibility just ignore it and move on. As the school is most likely aware of the deficiency and will ignore it and or hide behind the dated Western Tradition of tenure. Good Luck. :smiley:

I’ll chime in here as a prof (Not of design, but business). Now business schools might be more sensitive- we do a lot of ratings, care about rankings, and even in the research intensive environments Ive been in, people really care about their teachers doing well. Again, might be different in other faculties, I can’t say. For some reason, I have no patience for crap teachers. There is just no excuse.

Anyway, if it were me I’d do the following:

  1. If you feel comfortable, make an appt to meet with the prof and explain your concerns. Try to be constructive, try to be explicit, give him/her the benefit of the doubt going in, explain why you believe it matters. If you aren’t comfortable or worry about retribution in some way, maybe not an option. But I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  2. If above can’t be done or its unsuccessful, go to the dept head. Especially with a group of students with a spokesperson. Explain your concerns. Be constructive and ask for something explicit. Think of yourself as a professional, not a student, going in and behave accordingly. You’ll get more credibility and be more likely to evoke change.

  3. If above fails, go to the Dean. Repeat 2 with the Dean.

  4. If none of the above works, suck it up, get whatever you can out of it, and be thankful its just one course in one term. Life isn’t always fair, at school or at work. And if you have the opportunity, nail him/her on their evaluations if you get to fill them out.

Some thoughts.