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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?

aldiwhore Tue 05-Mar-13 11:59:18

You were answering a question therefore YANBU.

If he didn't want your input, he shouldn't have asked the question!

MrsHoarder Tue 05-Mar-13 12:05:15

I would have thought he was trying to shame the others into making an effort rather than having a digg at you.

I feet the same thing sometimes, it feels like the lecture is a conversation between me and the lecturer as no-one else ever asks or answers a question.

SirBoobAlot Tue 05-Mar-13 12:05:43

Well... I dunno. It's great if you know the answers, and great that you're engaging, you're right in that there's no point spending all that money for you not to be. But you shouldn't really answer every question. It makes you look like a know it all, is bound to get on the lecturer's nerves, and will put other people off from answering if you are answering all the time, which in turn will have a negative affect on you, as you learn just as much from other people as from the lecturer.

Also think your retort was a bit smug, tbh.

So as frustrating as it is wink restrain yourself a little.

DeWe Tue 05-Mar-13 12:15:44

His comment to me was a dig at the ones who weren't answering. Not saying you couldn't, but hinting that the others should be.

livinginwonderland Tue 05-Mar-13 12:17:59

nobody likes a know-it-all. just because you know the answer, doesn't mean you have to shout it out and answer all the questions. i've never liked the person in class who knows everything - it's patronising and it puts you off answering because you know they'll always know the answer if you get it wrong.

yes, you're paying to learn, and i get that, but there's no need to answer every single question. that doesn't really make you learn anything.

ScreamingFoxtrots Tue 05-Mar-13 12:19:48

I didn't retort SirBoob - both comments were from him.

I waited until he asked each question a second time, and in the past have not answered at all and nobody says anything until the lecturer gives in and carries on. It's excruciating.

MrsHoarder that's exactly how I feel!

Still18atheart Tue 05-Mar-13 12:22:05

It's the same at our uni! emails have been sent by lecturers.

One guy turned up ad started reading a war and peace book in non relsted lecture. Lecture got so pissed.

YANBU but sometimes when we are talking amounget ourselves its quiet and its all about the lecture. The lecturers like retorical questions. It can get annoying but most of the lecturers just ignore it. and only kick up a fuss when its louder than a certain volume

Still18atheart Tue 05-Mar-13 12:24:09

meant to say wasnt war and peace but similar type of door stopper book

Dannilion Tue 05-Mar-13 12:26:46

There's a "mature student" (not sure what age you have to be to be classed as a mature student these days, but she's 30 and I'm 23 so for arguments sake, I'll call her 'mature') who does this. It really boils mine and everyone else's piss.

She answers every question and asks about 10 more on top. Our lectures seem to consist of watching a conversation between her and the lecturer, she gives us no reason to want to engage as we're basically just waiting for her to speak. Her answers are always either textbook (so what's the point in exploring the issue?) or challenging the lecturer. People try to bring her up on it but her argument is the same as yours, I pay to be here, no one else engages etc. Which to me seems a bit smug as I've never failed a module, so I must be doing something right.

It's like she requires spoon feeding or constant reassurance that she's on the right track.

Not saying you're like that at all, but just playing devils advocate a bit.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Tue 05-Mar-13 12:29:50

I think if you've waited for the second time of asking then you've done nothing wrong, but his comment was a bit confused.

I'd ask him - would you rather I rationed myself to one answer in three? I can see that he might hope it would give the others more of a push if they couldn't rely on you answering every time.

I've had lecturers say "Does anybody know X......someone other than Isabella" but I knew it was meant constructively because some of my classmates were coasting a bit and needed a push.

KellyElly Tue 05-Mar-13 12:39:02

she gives us no reason to want to engage as we're basically just waiting for her to speak Surely you don't need a reason to engage. Everyone's an adult, just speak up!

ScreamingFoxtrots Tue 05-Mar-13 12:39:03

Danni I think you too count as a mature student - over 21 qualifies I think wink - I appreciate your point but I'm really not like that. We were doing a recap of the prior class and as I said I was allowing everyone else to answer first before trying to keep things moving. In one instance he had got to the point of saying "Come on, someone, it starts with N" so I figured he really wanted to move forward. I often (shock, horror) don't know or ask for clarification when I don't understand, working on the principle that if I'm not asking I may as well just read the stuff in a textbook!

Isabella I think it would have been fine if he'd said something like that, but the venom and then the I can tell them took me aback somewhat.

It made me think they don't want me to be engaged/involved sad

cheeseandchive Tue 05-Mar-13 12:46:47

Dannilion, some people learn by asking questions and not learning by rote, I'm one of them, and sometimes 'challenging the lecturer' can be just trying to understand an opposing argument of point of view. Maybe that's how it is for her.

I'm a mature student and know my approach to uni is different because of the sacrifices I made to get there. I worked full time while doing distance A-levels, gave up a paid job I loved to then go and now pay for the privilege of learning about a subject I care about and will only get one shot at. I'm going to squeeze every penny out of it!

Do see how it can be frustrating when it disrupts the entire lecture though, people do need to be sensitive and that's what consultation hours are for!


WowOoo Tue 05-Mar-13 12:50:31

Sounds like he's as frustrated as you are with everyone else.
What a shame.

You could ask him. If he told me to let others speak or not to comment as much, I'd be annoyed though.

whiteflame Tue 05-Mar-13 12:51:56

I don't think you should worry about being seen as a know it all. Lecturer asked, you gave others a chance, and then answered. I think it is really sad that people think someone knowing the answers is a reason to sneer at them.

PS I am a lecturer, and would be very happy that someone was answering!

JeffTheGodOfBiscuits Tue 05-Mar-13 12:58:31


I am a mature student too. There are a couple of seminars where the other students say NOTHING and stare at their book when asked a question like the fucking lottery numbers are about to appear. My rule is wait until the silence gets uncomfortable - if no one says anything, I will chip in (I always have something to say!)

I much prefer the seminars where the class is engaged, discussions are going etc. Then I can shut up. But I am not going so stay silent just because every one else can't be arsed to engage and get something out of the lecture that they are paying to attend.

And to those who are complaining about mature students engaging on their course - why don't YOU try speaking instead, then the annoying mature students won't have a chance to bang on with their opinions and knowledge and research and all that boring shit.

CrystalQueen Tue 05-Mar-13 13:04:20

My old tutor told me he was always glad when I was in a lecture he was giving, because that way someone would answer his questions. OP, YANBU

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 05-Mar-13 13:06:44

It doesn't sound as if he handled it very well, but you've got two separate issues IMO.

One is - the other students are distracting you playing on phones and so on, and this is unfair on you. You could talk to the lecturer or your course tutor about that and say you feel a bit as if you're the only one listening, or you could accept the other students are being a bit silly.

Second thing is - you think classes are for answering the question, and you're fed up the lecturer isn't letting you do it every time because there's an awkward silence otherwise. Thing is, you may think the other students are ignoring the lecturer, but they probably know you're going to answer if they do that. So they need that awkward pause. It's really tough if you're someone who hates silences, but you've got to give them a chance. Otherwise, the lecturer has two options - they can pick on individuals, or they can tell the class 'look, screaming is answering all my questions, why can't you?'. Neither of those approaches is going to make you feel great and probably won't make the other students feel better.

So, basically, I'd say if you possibly can put up with the uncomfortable silence for a bit longer, try it. Then go with option one and complain if nothing is changing.

Answering a question every time is not going to help you learn in the long run - you need the discussion to start up, with other people participating.

ScreamingFoxtrots Tue 05-Mar-13 13:14:29

LRD I'm really not bothered if the others don't want to pay attention, it's their call tbh, and I'm happy for them to do so. I mentioned it in my OP to set the scene.

I'm really not answering every question in my lectures, it sometimes feels like I'm the only one asking for clarification, but there are far more involved people in different modules. This particular lecture was about renal physiology, so there isn't a huge amount of room for discussion! But yes, I agree, I shouldn't be answering each time, others should be, but I really shouldn't be criticised publicly for answering when nobody else is.

ScreamingFoxtrots Tue 05-Mar-13 13:15:30

Also I'm not fed up that the lecturer isn't "letting me answer" all the questions - I was participating in a class and got a mouthful for my troubles.

Amphitrite Tue 05-Mar-13 13:15:54

This is why I loved my OU courses - we were all mature students with opinions. No tumbleweed in our seminars. I really do feel for you OP. In your shoes I would probably have a chat with the lecturer and say, look, what do you want to be happening here? Do you want me to hold back even if others don't answer? His comment sounds rude, but perhaps he didn't mean it to.
Personally, I think his questioning style sounds undeveloped, as a secondary teacher I would not be standing at the front of the class asking closed questions but using specific questioning techniques to try to develop student discussion and it has often struck me that third-level lecturers could do with a bit of that too.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 05-Mar-13 13:24:02

Ah, fair enough - I would be really distracted by them faffing about.

I honestly don't think he meant to criticize you, but rather to get the others to wake up. Could you talk to him about it? I bet he will be able to tell you exactly what he meant, rather than you guessing on here.

Excuse me for asking, I may be showing my ignorance - but are you sure there's not room for discussion or you going quiet a bit? It's just, you say there's not room for discussion, and you also said in your OP that the lecturer said he could answer questions - is it possible he is trying to suggest that you're not getting the answers perfect? I would think that wouldn't matter if you're answering one question in every ten or so (because obviously students don't always phrase things just right). But maybe if you're slightly off each time, he's in a tricky situation. Because if the rest of the class don't follow what is going on and don't know the answer, they might need a more detailed explanation than you're capable of giving in your reply, and he can't tell what exactly it is they need, because now you've replied, the 'student answer' is out there.

I am not criticizing you at all - I do think it doesn't sound like a perfectly managed class, I'm just thinking through what the lecturer may be struggling with here.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 05-Mar-13 13:28:48

I mean ... it's a different subject, but what I've had happen is this:

Say that one engaged student always answers. She is keen and about 95% right in what she says. The other students don't quite follow. I would myself explain things in a different way from the keen student, as I have a hunch that the 5% she's not quite getting - which might only be a matter of how she phrases her answer and what she assumes is obvious and doesn't need saying - may be the problem for all the rest of the class.

So, I'd hope another student would answer, even if they're wrong or can only provide a guess, because that will help me to see where the problem is. If nothing else, there might come a point where I'd rather have silence and give the keen student a warning she's not to try to answer, because then I can wait, get everyone's attention, and give my thorough explanation.

I think often, if a class of students hear one keen student's response, they're sometimes likely to switch off and think 'well, she gets it, but we don't, never mind'. Whereas if no-one understands and there's a silence, they all recognize they've got to listen to a proper explanation.

So, it might not really be 'about' you at all, just about the lecturer's sense of how the class as a whole is coping.

ScreamingFoxtrots Tue 05-Mar-13 13:34:04

I'm sure there probably is room for discussion, but the questions yesterday were:

"Can anybody tell me the functional unit within the kidney?"
"Come on, somebody it begins with N"

"How many nephrons are in each kidney?"

"What do we mean by active transport?"
"You guys know this, we've done it before"

They're one word answers for the most part - you can't really discuss the name of a body part beyond what it's actually called (or the root of the name maybe) but he really did ask very closed questions with simple direct answers.

Now I'm not arrogant enough to think that I'm getting the answers to everything perfect, but there's not really anywhere else you can go with these. I'm also of the opinion that a "no" or "not quite" is a reasonable response from a lecturer, rather than telling me, quite rudely, not to answer and that he was there to provide answers to the questions he'd asked, which does beg the question as to why he asked in the first place!

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