Lecturers should read blogs of students

15 08 2007

After attending half a week of lectures, I’m beginning to have reservations about some modules I’ll be studying this semester. Not because of the students, not because of the syllabus but because of the lecturers. Don’t get me wrong, the lecturers are very familiar with the materials they’ll be imparting to the students. They definitely have the necessary qualifications and knowledge to stand where they are.

However, teaching styles can go a long way in drawing a concrete, defining line between fun and appealing lectures and the contrary. There are lectures which captivates the students’ attention throughout, there are those that leave students in discussion with their friends for hours(and sometimes days) and those that put students into the process of day dreaming. Sometimes I wish there was a way I could let my professor know my thoughts about today’s lecture, like how I enjoyed it, how I thought it was too slow and etc.

Like many other aspects of life, the positive comments are easier to convey than the negative ones. I’m pretty sure very few(or should I say 0?) students have approached a professor to give negative feedback about the day’s lecture. NUS has this feedback process for each lecturer and tutor at the end of every semester which students will fill up. Unfortunately, having a similar one at the end of every lecture would be too tedious for not only the administration but also students.

Fortunately, there is a constant, indirect feedback platform which academicians have not utilized for this function, yet. Most students nowadays are very connected online and like most youths(especially girls), we love to rant about things with complaints about lectures not excluded. We rant about it on various online social media tools like Facebook, Friendster, Twitter and not forgetting the most convenient ranting platform, blogs. Blogs are definitely the most publicly accessible avenue for students’ thoughts among the social media tools. A quick “google” of a lecturer’s name / module code will return results with writings of students’ thoughts and rants. (Note: Not for every module under the sun though)

The results may be shocking and seem full of negativity as people have a tendency to write about drama more than anything else but it gives the professor an idea of what the students truely think about his lectures. Sometimes even “truer” than what students write in the university feedback forms as they know the probability of their professors reading their blogs is close to 0. The professor can use these comments to improve their teaching styles/methods and in some cases, see what students think of the change as the weeks pass. At the end of the day, the professors get to improve themselves and the students have a more fruitful academic session.

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11 responses

15 08 2007
DK

But if they know their professor will chance upon their blog, do you think they would still be that frank in their entry?

15 08 2007
Daphne Maia

hey suyuen, i agree with you on this! many-a-times i have real grouses abt my lecturers, or the way that they conduct lessons. sometimes i think it’s unintentional – they don’t realise what a boo-boo they are making by teaching that particular way, and they don’t know how effective their teaching is (until they read the answer scripts for the end-of-sem exams).

so many times have i sat in lectures, wondering to myself, can he speed up? we learnt this in a previous (pre-requisite) module already. or i could be thinking that he/she shouldn’t be making jokes cos they are completely un-funny, and if he/she even notices the students, no one is laughing – at all.

i am very very biased towards lecturers and their modules. if the lecturer gives me a good impression on the first lesson, chances are, im going to be extra diligent, and the best student he/she can dream of. if the lecturer gives me the impression that he/she is one of those low-standard “put in half effort also can score” lecturers, i will start playing truant, day-dreaming in class, not contributing to class discussions, etc. of course, my grades may not suffer as a result of his/her bad teaching (that’s plain stupid) but i am also the type of student who will try to make the lecturer’s life difficult when it comes to his/her teaching, when i don’t like the lecturer.

as i’m in a private institution, and i pay through my nose for my education, i try to make sure that i get my money’s worth of education, or i’ll complain to the school until this might possibly be the last module you will ever teach in this school.

hey, we’re customers, and we are entitled to quality products/services, not just some slipshod teaching that could be passed off as providing education.

anyway. back to the point. i believe that providing feedback is very important to lecturers, and students should refrain from giving neutral feedback or passive feedback just so that the lecturer’s feelings won’t be hurt. last semester i told my class this: “if you don’t give a bad rating for that lecturer, the school will continue giving us such low-standard lecturers, and at the end of this course, you will be a half-baked degree holder, with a degree worth less than the paper it is printed on. you paid for the education, so make sure you get some EDUCATION.”

lecturers should also take note of students’ feedback – because chances are, the coming generations of students in this competitive world will come down even harsher on you if you don’t improve.

ok i think i kinda ranted a lot. but that’s my 2 pennies’ worth.

15 08 2007
Daphne Maia

hey suyuen,

i agree with you on this! many-a-times i have real grouses abt my lecturers, or the way that they conduct lessons. sometimes i think it’s unintentional – they don’t realise what a boo-boo they are making by teaching that particular way, and they don’t know how effective their teaching is (until they read the answer scripts for the end-of-sem exams).

so many times have i sat in lectures, wondering to myself, can he speed up? we learnt this in a previous (pre-requisite) module already. or i could be thinking that he/she shouldn’t be making jokes cos they are completely un-funny, and if he/she even notices the students, no one is laughing – at all.

i am very very biased towards lecturers and their modules. if the lecturer gives me a good impression on the first lesson, chances are, im going to be extra diligent, and the best student he/she can dream of. if the lecturer gives me the impression that he/she is one of those low-standard “put in half effort also can score” lecturers, i will start playing truant, day-dreaming in class, not contributing to class discussions, etc. of course, my grades may not suffer as a result of his/her bad teaching (that’s plain stupid) but i am also the type of student who will try to make the lecturer’s life difficult when it comes to his/her teaching, when i don’t like the lecturer.

as i’m in a private institution, and i pay through my nose for my education, i try to make sure that i get my money’s worth of education, or i’ll complain to the school until this might possibly be the last module you will ever teach in this school.

hey, we’re customers, and we are entitled to quality products/services, not just some slipshod teaching that could be passed off as providing education.

anyway. back to the point. i believe that providing feedback is very important to lecturers, and students should refrain from giving neutral feedback or passive feedback just so that the lecturer’s feelings won’t be hurt. last semester i told my class this: “if you don’t give a bad rating for that lecturer, the school will continue giving us such low-standard lecturers, and at the end of this course, you will be a half-baked degree holder, with a degree worth less than the paper it is printed on. you paid for the education, so make sure you get some EDUCATION.”

lecturers should also take note of students’ feedback – because chances are, the coming generations of students in this competitive world will come down even harsher on you if you don’t improve.

ok i think i kinda ranted a lot. but that’s my 2 pennies’ worth.

15 08 2007
Entrepreneur

I think that knowing the thoughts of your students, especially when its in the form of a ranting blog, may not be beneficial to the teacher, nor anyone for that matter.

You know how these blogs can get sometimes … there are too many to sift through the good from the bad and the ugly.

What may perhaps be a good idea is to have an online feedback from the students – by asking the professor to have a blog! Then you can let them know what your thoughts are on an ongoing basis- and its meant for the teacher/professor as opposed to just a ranting rave.

15 08 2007
NTT

I think more importantly, lecturers should be willing to accept criticism and suggestions from students and learn from these.

Most are unwilling to even associate with the students let alone accept any negative remarks.

15 08 2007
ignorantsoup

I agree with DK. The reason why blogs are a good place to check out people’s feelings are because they do not feel that they will be persecuted for their comments. When you know an authority is looking at your blog, tendancy is that you will not be as frank. Besides, there is a point to consider – biasness. Some students are simply too immature to seriously comment. Sometimes their comments are not practical. Especially in the arena of blogging where we just have a relaxed atmosphere when blogging. Sometimes we may just rant and rave but we know we just want to destress and there is nothing wrong with the lecturer.

15 08 2007
chillycraps

actually some lecturers in NUS do read students’ blogs. There was once I mentioned about recording the lecture with my MP3 player, and the lecturer actually sent me an email suggesting I should place the recorder up front so that the sound is clearer.

There are also lecturers who read students’ blog and approach the students with regards to their personal problem.

15 08 2007
bitbot

Hey guys! THanks for the comments! I didn’t expect so much reaction towards this post, thanks for voicing your thoughts.

In reply to dk and ignorantsoup, its true that if we know a person of authority is reading our blog we’d be more cautious of our postings. However, these lecturers do not have to let the students know that they are reading. After all, its almost impossible for the students to track specifically who is reading their blogs.

In response to students being immature and not serious with their blog posts, like all forms of feedback there will always be destructive and irrational ones in the midst of some contructive ones. What the professors should do is read the criticisms and take in the ones which they think are reasonable and improve on them.

Academicians are after all supposed to be rational people who are open to criticisms 🙂

@Entrepreneur: Asking the professor to have a blog where students can comment annonymously is definitely a great idea!

15 08 2007
arzhou (adrian)

Totally agree with you Suyuen, lecturers should be open to feedback from all channels. After all they do have to realise that there is a generation gap (they did spend at least 6 years getting a phd) between them and the undergraduates. So learning styles are definitely different.

15 08 2007
Mr. Dew

Well, it didn’t really work out in my case. The lecturer wasn’t happy for the feedback and requested removal. The funny thing is that I didn’t write things that are very bad about her. I did mention she was short and cannot control our class. I wrote good comments on her teaching actually. She’s a nice person just too gentle. I removed it at her request.

16 08 2007
jiinjoo

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