Sunday, December 12, 2010

Maybe It's FLG

FLG has been asked three times in the last month or so by professors if he is enjoying their class. Now, the smart answer, perhaps the one they expect, is "yes." Then we comfortably can move on to other issues or conclude the conversation.

Problem is FLG hasn't been enjoying their classes as much as he has other classes he's taken at Georgetown. So, he has responded with "Yes, but I'd like the class better if you did or didn't do these one or two specific things for these specific reasons." Each time, the professors got all defensive.

FLG is a slow learner, but third time is the charm. Next time it comes up, a simple "yes" will be forthcoming.


arethusa said...

Professor shouldn't ask that. Seriously. I regard it as unprofessional.

FLG said...

How is it different from course evaluations?

Alpheus said...

FLG: I can't answer for Arethusa, but course evaluations are anonymous. They also sample the whole class and not just selected individuals. In both respects, they're more useful -- potentially, anyway.

More to the point, asking a student if he's enjoying a class seems a little like asking "Was it good for you too?" or "Does this dress make me look fat?" -- a plea for reassurance rather than a solicitation of honest feedback. Which I guess is what you're finding in the case of your Georgetown profs.

I'm not saying instructors shouldn't ask more specific questions about a student's experience in their courses. I've often asked students things like "Do you feel like we're moving too fast?" or "What did you think of Suetonius?" But "Are you enjoying the course?" seems a bit too close to "Do you like me? Do you really like me?"

Jeff said...

I also can't imagine asking students such a solicitous question, not only for the reasons Alpheus outlines, but also because I think "enjoyment" is such a low bar. Students often think they're complimenting me when they tell me, on their way out the door, that a course was "fun," but I could give them a merely entertaining class with a fraction of the prep time. Across 42 weeks of blabbing, I'm kinda aiming for something more.

Jeff said...

(That should be 42 hours of blabbing. Clearly I do not teach math.)

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