To think being engaged in class is a good thing

(80 Posts)
ScreamingFoxtrots Tue 05-Mar-13 11:57:04

I'm back at university as a mature student and yesterday had a bit of a run in with one of our lecturers. I should probably caveat this with a yes, I know I'm keen and there to learn, but what's the point in shelling out £27,000 for a degree and not being engaged!

In the lecture yesterday it seemed like most of the class were asleep/playing on their mobiles/chatting/looking out of the window. Now that's their look out but I'm there to learn. The lecturer asked questions, and each time I waited until he had asked it a second time (allowing others to answer) before responding. On the third question he said "others can answer too" and then followed it up with "and if they don't know I can tell them the answer".

AIBU to think that his comment was ridiculous? I wasn't being a smug know-it-all, and even if I was I'm entitled to give the answers to the questions he asked! How has being engaged and paying attention become a bad thing?

piprabbit Wed 06-Mar-13 16:17:09

Can you talk to him? Ask him how you should handle it next time, that you feel a bit embarrassed to be the only one answering but feel it's rude to ignore him.

TBH he should have been a bit more challenging to the other students to try and get them answering.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Wed 06-Mar-13 16:10:16

We used to have a blind lecturer who would call out questions to class member names at random. We dreaded it but it kept us on our toes grin

cumfy Tue 05-Mar-13 20:56:14

In your position I'd be more concerned that the class is holding you back (rather than question etiquette).

Are you still really happy with your choice of uni ?
How is it you're apparently lumbered with these less able classmates ?

HollaAtMeBaby Tue 05-Mar-13 20:34:15

YANBU and for those who say "nobody likes a know-it-all" and "you shouldn't answer every question" - bollocks. If nobody else has the brains or the guts to speak up, you go for it, OP! You made it clear you were waiting for others to answer and they didn't. Maybe they haven't had the benefit of a good education (I went to the sort of schools that have small class sizes and high standards, and if you tried to hide or tune out you'd be put on the spot and made to answer a question), maybe they're lazy or hungover or bored or shy or just plain thick, but none of that is your concern. Make the most of your time in university - you'll get out what you put in and so will your classmates.

poppypebble Tue 05-Mar-13 20:25:46

Littleturkish, I teach A Level History and we do have 2 periods a week of guided research which leads to a 3,500 word essay. That isn't spoonfed at all. When Ofsted aren't there I teach the way that will get my students through the exam and I'm afraid that isn't always entertaining. There is only so much fun that can be had with 16th century Privy Councillors, and most of that with the Earl of Essex. smile

We regularly discuss our 'Ferris Bueller' moments in the staffroom, where you stand there going 'anyone, anyone' as the silence drags. I do tell my sixth-formers that it is going to be excruciating in a seminar if they just sit there in silence - and that there is no place to hide at university. That said, I don't think anyone but the lecturer ever spoke in a lecture when I was at university. If you had questions you stayed behind or went to office hours.

ScreamingFoxtrots Tue 05-Mar-13 19:42:18

I have a tendency towards being over sensitive, so appreciate that point.

To the pp who said I don't respect him - I want to. I really do. I was taught by him on a previous course and loved his teaching style. I don't criticise him for his pronunciation errors - even if most of the class now think hyaline cartilage is "hayline" cartilage. Pronunciation errors in anatomy and physiology can make things plain wrong. Also, his slides have spoken about metatarsals in the hand - I don't think he seriously thinks this is the case, but he's not checking his slides before he presents.

I've calmed down a lot and am now of the opinion that we're on the same side. We both want interactive, inclusive lectures. I need to sit on my hands and he probably needs to push the rest of the crowd. I need to be a little less sensitive (as does he) and we can work together to make the learning experience worthwhile for everyone.

SlowlorisIncognito Tue 05-Mar-13 19:31:07

A lecturer making a comment like that would put me off answering in lectures. I don't really like offering answers to questions in large lecture situations anyway, as I worry about getting it wrong (yes, I know that is a bit ridiculous), especially when it's a mix of courses, and there are people I don't know well in the room or it's an unfamiliar lecturer and I'm not sure if they want people to just shout the answer or put our hands up or what?

To some extent I do like it when lecturers engage the class, but it has to be apropriate, and I do find it difficult when people- e.g. my stats lecturer last year- ask questions, get a few wrong answers and then the right one, then doesn't explain, as surely this shows people in the lecture hall don't understand? I don't see what purpose it is serving?

I do, however, make an effort to engage in situations, e.g. labs, workshops, tutorials, where it's apropriate and hope I'm not seen as a know it all- I'm often the first person to break if there's an uncomfortable silence in our tutorial!

OutOfCheeseError Tue 05-Mar-13 19:22:01

I think the lecturer was a bit rude to you, however you strongly give the impression on here that you have no respect for him, criticising his pronunciation (!) and claiming that his slides are incorrect, and it wouldn't surprise me if he is picking up on that and responding, perhaps subconsciously.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 05-Mar-13 18:56:28

OP, going on what the lecturer said to you, I think you are being over sensitive.

Asking how being engaged and paying attention is now a bad thing is taking it over the top.

The lecturer just wanted other people to answer questions. You are over thinking and taking it far too personally.

Yes! That's what I would do. I feel a bit sorry for the lecturer though, if most of his class refuse to answer very basic questions. Maybe they are taking the piss a bit.

Or just tell them they're required to answer at least one question per session and if they don't volunteer they'll get called on towards the end.

When I had lecturers who lectured 'at' us without breaks for questions, they'd make it interesting by varying the way they described things and getting a little bit off the wall. We got told the average concentration span is about 10-15 minutes - after that you need a shock to keep you interested. But then, if the class were paying enough attention to email the OP afterwards, they can't have been totally oblivious.

Littleturkish Tue 05-Mar-13 18:44:48

LRD- you were probably thinking the same thing as me- split them into small groups with a selection of different topics, get them to pose the questions, rotate tables, get new tables and then new students answer the questions posed by the previous group.

Regroup- discuss answers.

10 minute activity, each table feeds back, everyone speaks, everyone is engaged, breaks the awful question-silence-question-silence habit they've gotten into.

Christ- make the students present- we would do that when I was a student and had tutorials.

Hearing about bad lessons makes my eyes itch.

LadyPessaryPam Tue 05-Mar-13 18:30:56

OP stop answering his questions, let it get really uncomfortable, sit on your hands if you have to but do not help out.

You're being very nice and I was being very chippy. blush Sorry!

I don't think you sound whiny, but it's really interesting that the same sort of objections you've got sound to be what a lot of people who're grown-up university teachers say about undergraduate degrees. I know a lot of students' parents get angry that they don't have enough 'contact hours'.

But then, the OP is describing a course that really does sound as if it doesn't give the students much time for proper questioning and discussing.

Littleturkish Tue 05-Mar-13 18:16:46

You know what, LRD- even as I was typing that I was thinking, I bet that's not even true anymore.

And my father was a lecturer at university- so I appreciate there is then the added pressure of research and publishing.

I've totally talked myself round.

What I think is really needed is an overhaul at KS5 to better prepare students for HE. The entire structure of the KS5 A Level courses need to be more closely aligned to the expectations of HE. When I did A Levels we would have mini lectures and then tutorials for parts of the course, with reading and research expectations each week. Now, that would never be entertained, and parents would object to the lack of 'teaching time'.

Blimey, I sound whiney.

I'm going to go and look at the wine bottles and imagine a time when I'll be allowed to drink again.

hackmum Tue 05-Mar-13 17:36:02

Well, obviously his approach is all wrong. He can tell people aren't listening to him, so he tries to grab their attention by asking questions. Then the only person to answer is the one who obviously is listening. He gets annoyed because he really wants one of the others to stop pratting about on their phones and answer the question.

But what he needs to do is find a new way of getting their attention. Fire questions at them individually. Confiscate their mobile phones. Give the lecture naked. All of the above.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 05-Mar-13 17:17:08

I agree with your post too

Cheesestrawwars

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 05-Mar-13 17:15:56

My take on this is that the others think they are too cool to answer, or they don't bother because they know you will. Lecturer is probably exasperated with them.

When I was at University you could always spot the mature students - they were more keen (and I'm not backward in coming forward myself). At the time we used to slightly take the piss. Now of course, I see that maybe they were more anxious and maybe education meant more to them - they had possibly sacrificed other things to be there, and have thought about what they were doing

Gah. I mean, obviously people who're not still students are better teachers, but I don't know if they take less time because of it. My supervisors seem to spend ages.

I get that you're angry - sorry - I'm angry too though.

Sorry, but that is not true. There is focus on university lecturers, and they do get assessed for teaching quality, and loads of them work really hard to make classes and lectures interesting. I've just spent the weekend with my brother and SIL (both lecturers) who have just finished a training course to help them be better teachers, and we talked for ages about this. I'm only learning myself, but before I was allowed to teach I got some brilliant training that really helped me think about what would be the best way to do things.

I'm sure there are duff lecturers out there, and it may well be the OP's is one of them - but please don't assume everyone is like that just based on one example.

I don't know if other people who're not still students are better teachers and take less time, but those 'hours and hours' of preparation - yes, that's what I did too!

Hulababy Tue 05-Mar-13 17:06:27

Different degrees have different approaches. Different tutors have different approaches.

In neither of my degree courses did I have a sit down and listen type lecture, and there was never 100+ students in the room. We had 50+ at times but there was always interaction between tutor and students; then smaller groups where we discussed in more detail.

Regardless - I think the OP is getting a rough deal from people on here.

The people at fault are the other students (for being disengaged, chatting and using mobiles) and the tutor (asking questions he doesn't want answers from; not challenging students who are not listening/engaging) not the OP.

It must be a very frustrating situation when no one else is engaged in the lesson, them just sat there passive or even doing other stuff. It would drive me mad. I'm not one to put myself forward in these situations, but if everyone else was sat ignoring the tutor even I'd be wanting to answer him and speak up.

The other students just sound rude tbh.

Littleturkish Tue 05-Mar-13 16:55:36

LRD- No, I didn't really tbh.

I think I'm just cross.

And actually, when I think back to my university learning, I enjoyed the lectures where I sat and listened and researched for myself. I'm just feeling sorry for myself after the hours and hours of planning we now have to do for sixth formers to make it 'fun' and 'engaging' and then a year later they go off to uni and OF COURSE they now sit there disengaged annoying mature students. But there is never any focus on university tutors to make their lessons engaging, no observations and ridiculous 'outstanding progress every 20 minutes'. Definitely just pregnant and grumpy today.

I don't think it's right that they do this- I actually think we're doing students a massive disservice by spoonfeeding them and making their learning so teacher led- and then totally not preparing them for HE.

LaQueen Tue 05-Mar-13 16:51:14

Littleturkish when I went to university, I didn't expect to be taught anymore. I fully expected to be in charge of my own learning (such as it was, I wasn't what you'd call diligent).

The lecturers basically lectured at us - pointed us to the right books, waffled through a few questions in tutorials (attendence wasn't enforced)...then we did what we wanted with that information.

Back then, the vast majority of under graduates were fine with that approach.

You'd already proved with O Levels/A Levels, that you were quick, that you were clever, and that you had a good brain.

crashdoll Tue 05-Mar-13 15:59:42

LittleTurkish As an adult at university, one is meant to take responsibility for their ownlearning. Lecturers are for pointers in the direction of relevant reading, not for sitting there and being taught in the same way as you are at school. Seminars and tutorials are for debate, group work and bouncing ideas off one another. So many university students expect to be spoon fed. Many of my fellow students complain that they aren't learning anything and they are the ones who don't do much reading.

Tanith Tue 05-Mar-13 15:49:59

I agree with EnjoyResponsibly.

Not quite the same age group, but when my DS was at infant school, he was actively discouraged from answering the questions the teacher asked, or simply ignored. He eventually stopped putting his hand up and assumed the teacher didn't like him very much.

He got a bursary to a prep school where they commented again and again: "he knows the answers but never ever puts his hand up. He needs to answer more in class". It took them months to get him to interact in class.

Very strange that some teachers seem to want to stifle learning.

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