Saturday, November 18, 2006

Lecturers From Hell

Sufficient exercises and good memorising skills aren't the only crucial things you need to do well in the examination hall. And no, I'm not talking about new and more interesting ways to cheat during exam. I am not going to tell you that you should get a bigger pencil box, wear a long-sleeved jacket, learn a little bit of sign language and spend your bathroom breaks wisely.

The other important factor to LEGITIMATELY score well in any exam is the willingness of the lecturers in charge to help you during exam. What's worse than not knowing the answer to a question? - Forgetting it. No matter how much a person studies, he/she will surely blank out on a few formulas and definitions. That's when you need a little help from the lecturers to help you recall them. Over here, the finals are like the 'be all and end all' part of a subject/course so naturally the lecturers would want to lend a little hand to their students.

I admit I have been saved a few times by the lecturers, one even went to the extent of writing down for me the formulas necessary for my questions. But of course, there are some who would understandably nail you to a roundtable and burn you with a torch if you so much as ask for a hint. For example yesterday during my fluid finals:

(In the exam hall: a coursemate sitting on my right asks a question)
Coursemate: Sir, what's a Cauchy-Remain equation?
Lecturer: Are you my student?
Coursemate: Er, yeah.
Lecturer: THEN HOW COME YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT'S A CAUCHY REMAIN EQUATION? I distinctly remembered stressing on this topic on the last day of lecture! Or were you sleeping again that time?!
Coursemate: I..
Lecturer: You are a DISGRACE to my class! *Storms away*

(Adrian, who was sitting behind me, also tried his luck)
Adrian: Maam, am I using the right formula?
Lecturer: THIS SIMPLE FORMULA ALSO YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO USE! I bet you didn't study at all yesterday. I bet you were out drinking and partying with friends and saying stuff like, "screw the finals!". Are you regretting your decision now? Are you?!

I also had my fair share of unhelpful lecturers that day but they were just unhelpful, not pissy (pity my friends). Out of the ten lecturers present, none of them were willing to assist their students AT ALL. After the exam on the way out the hall, you could hear a lot of complaints about the lecturers' attitude. Sigh. We are a spoilt bunch.

Edit: Ok some of you are starting to question our moral integrity here so let me give you a situation. Let's say a paper consists of four questions. each question costs 25%. Now out of this 4, you couldn't do one of them, AT ALL. Imagine going down 2 grades just because of that. And all you needed was to know what the hell does that one short sentence mean or whether the formula was a positive or a negative. What would you do? You ask, and you pray to god he gives you the answer. Desperation is ugly.

And stop picturing us raising our hands every 10 minutes asking for the lecturer's help. We are desperate not dumb.

14 comments:

k

you guys asked questions DURING an exam? and expected answers? hmm.

CY

First off, you're not even supposed to be asking the lecturer for hints. Wtf.

And btw, it's Cauchy-RIEMANN :)

Benjamin

k: the finals here is like the 'be all and end all' part of a course so naturally, the lecturers would want to help their students. :D we don't directly ask for answers la of course.

cy: like i said, it's the finals. desperate times calls for desperate measures.

haiya, potato-potatoh.

philters

i was a lecturer for two years at a private college and i have been an invigilator at exams and i have been in this situations a number of times. let me tell you my point of view.

firstly, the finals is NOT the 'be all and end all' of the course. the student should have accumulated scores from attendence, assignments, tasks, quizes and labs.

secondly, the lecturer would naturally want to help the student, yet. but it is NOT in our NATURE to do it during the final exams and it is unfair to expect this from them. the nature of the lecturer is to help them throughout the semester. i have even gone to the extend of organising extra classes until late night for students. FYI, WHEN A LECTURER CONDUCTS EXTRA CLASS, HE OR SHE IS NOT PAID EXTRA TO DO THIS. THE TIME, MATERIAL AND MOST IMPORTANTLY EFFORT, IS FROM THE LECTURER HIMSELF OR HERSELF. MOST STUDENT FAIL TO REALISE THIS.

and finally, an invigilating lecturer may lose his or her teaching permit should he or she be caught assisting students during exams and this includes correcting their spelling or confirming formulas etc. you need to know that if you are doing a university program administered by a college, then while your paper may be designed by your college, it has gotten the approval by the university. what you probably don't know, it that while the scores may be tabulated by a resident lecturer, a moderator of the university oversees the rating process. as a result, at even the hint of inconsistency of marks throughout the semester, the lecturer and administration may be called to questioning.

do you know that even if it not the lecturer's fault (eg. students using bathroom breaks wisely), every invigilating lecturer can lost their permits for that? do you know that if the student is caught cheating, they have to retake the exam but the invigilator could lose a job? i have seen this happen at a number of colleges too many times, and i have seen collegues lose their permits and jobs due to this. a lecturer who loses their permit is permanently blacklisted by the ministry and would find it extremely difficult to find teaching jobs anywhere else.

students should really have more common sense. it is not that lecturers don't want to help. but they need to understand that the difference between them having to take a retest, and the lecturer losing a job is just one squealer away.

every semester, lecturers dread exams perhaps even more than students. i can tell you the horrors students put lecturers through from blackmail to hiding caught notes in underwears and daring lecturers to take it from them. you know what? a few students complaining that we are strict won't hurt us. maybe someday students will realise how we have sacrificed for them too.

-=[W]=-

^I agree with this much; teaching is a noble BUT thankless profession. Well, not entirely thankless but whatever thanks an educator gets is far and few in between; especially from their own students.

Personally, i think the basic conundrum is that the lecturer has the RESPONSIBLITY to ensure that the students have every legitimate opportunity and resource available for them to do well in the exam. The students on the other hand have the OBLIGATION to score on their assesments/exams through ANY MEANS NECESSARY; legitimate or perhaps, illegitimate.

Like you've said, failure of this includes to the termination of employment for the lecturer and a stigma attached which makes it harder to find employment in this proession. Failure for the student on the other hand can the termination of a future for the student.

The relationship between the educator and the pupil has always been one wrought with dillemas and difficulty. So I can only leave it with live and let live...

And death to the squealer

Benjamin

philters: wilson put it so well when he said, "failure of this includes to the termination of employment for the lecturer and a stigma attached which makes it harder to find employment in this proession. Failure for the student on the other hand can the termination of a future for the student." A vicious cycle indeed.

let's say a paper consists of four questions. each question costs 25%. now out of this 4, you couldn't do one of them, AT ALL. imagine going down 2 grades just because of that. and all you needed was to know what the hell does that one short sentence mean. what would you do? you ask, and you pray to god he gives you the answer.

one word - desperation.

wilson: death to the squealer!

philters

"Failure for the student on the other hand can the termination of a future for the student"? - come on la, how much more dramatic can you get? so you failed an exam. it is not the end of the world. the termination of a future happens when hope is loss, and it certainly cannot be put on account of the lecturer.

dude, i dare say this: if you say you cannot answer a question because you cannot remember a formula, i'd say it is you being forgetful and not doing enough excercises and tutorials. but if you say that you cannot understand the question because you don't know what one short sentence means, it means you have not even attempted excercises and tutorials! i know how question papers are designed. they would be worded just like how they appear in excercises and tutorials. i have sat in committees designing question papers for UTM and phrasing is something we are particular about.

and death to the squealer? a lecturer helps one student while the others struggle with possibilities. where does your value in honesty lie? no wonder you say that if you fail one exam your future is doomed. desperation to you is to resort to dishonesty. and this is just one exam scenario. where do you draw the line between being honest or not in other aspects of life, where desperation means far more than failing one exam?

grow up.

philters

and if you really must know, there is one UTM 3rd year degree subject final exam paper which has only ONE question. 100%. no options. so would this mean that if a student cannot understand this one single question, he or she should kill himself or herself?

i thought this subject. and throughout the semester i coach them to face this one question which can be anything from the syllabus. i made sure my students know that only one question will be asked. i put them through every possible scenario in every single chapter.

exams come. the hall is filled with my students. exams begin. i inspect the exam paper and did my rounds. i knew the students would struggle with at least one rare term. there would always be one.

but you see, the struggle is collective. some may remember a little more. some may hit a jackpot. some would need a little time. the struggle nevertheless remains a collective. lecturers know this.

so one average student asks me the definition of the term. would i favour this student over others? what about the rest of them? what about everyone else? don't they matter too? don't they deserve help too? what if you were the one who stayed up late night doing tutorials to remember a formula while the others get aid from a lecturer just by asking?

so yea, i may be one of the lecturers from hell. i still am, by the way. but maybe that is because you fail to see that we are teaching you a thing or two about life by not condoning cheating.

Benjamin

"if you say you cannot answer a question because you cannot remember a formula, i'd say it is you being forgetful and not doing enough excercises and tutorials" - people DO forget.

"where do you draw the line between being honest or not in other aspects of life, where desperation means far more than failing one exam?" - how is it dishonest?! i ask the lecturer, whether he wants to answer or not is totally up to him/her! dishonest would be sliding a RM10 paper note into his/her pocket while asking the question.

"so would this mean that if a student cannot understand this one single question, he or she should kill himself or herself?" - i'm saying that if you can't do a question AT ALL, surely you would try to ask for help. i'm sure you won't just sit there and wait for a miracle to happen? just ask la, maybe the lecturer will answer or maybe he won't.

Philters, Mr. UTM lecturer sir. I think you might've misunderstood the whole point of my post. I'm not saying that a lecturer SHOULD AND MUST help the students during exam. that is why the 3rd last paragraph ended with "We are a spoilt bunch". Sometimes we do expect too much lecturers.

the real point of the post was to show how mean some lecturers can really be, that's all. if you don't want to answer then fine but don't fire back at us like animals.

Dryliquid

Haiyorrr...

it's just a freakin blog post la... why r u ppl all so emo for what???

here's the process you should follow:
1. Read
2. Laugh (Ben, stop inflating- it's just a mini minor praise; don't think that you're a walking comedy act)
4. Leave optional comment of no more than 50 words
3. GET ON with LIFE

sheesh... don't turn this into Debat Perdana.


Long live Liberty and Free Speech!



and Cheating during exams!!!

philters

it is not my intention of firing you like animals.i apologise if it came across that way.

i simply feel it unfair though that you call us the 'lecturers from hell' and 'mean' just because we are following the rules by not hinting your friends.

you're right. ask and the lecturer may help or not. you did not say they MUST but you did infer that they SHOULD. the lecturer has the choice to refuse. that is not wrong. that does not make that person the 'lecturer from hell' nor 'mean.'

perhaps you could call the the 'exam invigilators from hell.' well... that's almost fair.

Benjamin

dryliquid: too late. [already up in space, sees a Msian astronaut making batik, laughs, realises there are more hilarious things in life, deflates, falls back to earth]

philters: yeah i'm sorry about the title, it is a little too harsh. it is the scolding part that made the lecturers that day during exam seem 'mean' and 'from hell'. not the refusing part :D but yeah, let's just put this topic at rest. again i am sorry i offended you, i never meant to.

CY

First of all, Mr. Philters, it's inappropriate and totally uncalled for to leave such long rantings to this post, which is obviously meant to be taken lightly. Even if it were not obvious, the general mood and tone of the other entries should have been helpful to you.

The use of the title "Lecturers From Hell" in no way implied that "all lecturers are from hell". Unfortunately, you took it personally.

Philters: "so yea, i may be one of the lecturers from hell. i still am, by the way."

philters

CY: dude, i've made my peace with ben and i thought the general mood is cleared. what's your problem?

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