Teacher removed for being too hard at LSU

insidehighered.com/news/2010 … u#Comments

LSU biology professor who normally teaches junior, senior and graduate level level biology classes asks to help out and gets assigned a introductory course for non-biology majors. She gives quizzes at the beginning of class, multiple choice questions have 10 choices and 90% of the students were failing or had quit the class after the first test.

I’m actually interested in this and I’m wondering if the professor had a thick accent, was too strict and/or the university over-reacted by removing a professor from the class. I thought it was a really odd move by a university administration. In her defense students realized that they had to read the material, form study groups, and show up for class. The 2nd test actually had better scores but she was removed just after it had been given. The university also jacked up everyone’s grade that stayed in the class.

My own experience with 2 different teachers:
Poli-Sci teacher American English show up for class, take notes and ask questions and you were pretty much guaranteed to pass. I had skipped class and not taken good notes at first, the first test was a wake up call and I passed the test when I realized that I actually had to apply myself.

Linear equations teacher spoke English with a thick polish accent making most of what he said unintelligible. Failed class the first time, dropped it the 2nd time and when the Indian professor taught the class during the summer I grabbed it and aced it. The fail rate with the Polish professor was so bad and unfortunately was almost the only teacher teaching the class required for Calc 3 that they bundled the class into Calc 3 and dropped that 1 credit course for good.

So some of my thoughts:

  1. Was the teacher understandable?
  2. What does this mean for other teachers with strict guidelines?
  3. What use is a degree if this becomes the norm?
  4. The teacher’s view on passing the students was a bit odd for me.

Seems like both yourself and the teacher are missing a key understanding of the role of an educational institution.

It is difficult to make money if you keep on failing students.

[quote]1. Was the teacher understandable?
[/quote]
A bit tangential to the original topic, but I’ll have to be devil’s advocate on this question. My response is, “who cares how understandable the teacher is?” Much of the rest of the world’s higher education systems have their students doing a fair amount of their studying in English (at least reading-wise) because of a lack of materials translated from English into the local language. In some cases, like the university where I teach, a large proportion of the faculty teaches in English because they don’t know the local language. Is this fair? No. Does this put a number of students at a disadvantage? It seems so, but many of them don’t see it this way. To them, the choice is to do a degree in which they will have to do some studying in English, or do no reputable degree at all.

The fact of the matter is that for a number of disciplines, e.g. maths, as well as the pure and applied sciences, a large proportion of the students drawn into doing a PhD are not from English-speaking countries. Americans are either unable to or uninterested in doing these degrees. Our system squeezes cheap tutoring from PhD candidates, and in many cases it is these non-natives who move on to tenure-track positions because they produce research. This is reality. My opinion is that if an undergrad has difficulty understanding the instructor, that is just tough sh!t. God forbid that students be a bit autonomous. God forbid that students take their learning as their own responsibility. After all, they still have it easier than most of the world’s students. They certainly better not hold their breath until they can get a native speaker to teach them advanced calculus, because our education system just doesn’t produce people who can and will do that for the money that universities pay.

Rant over. I have to say that the reality of higher education in the US is exactly as pqkdzrwt says.