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The Orgo professor makes all the difference in the world...

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by curt656, 05.06.12.

  1. curt656

    curt656 Dinosaur Pre-Med

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    You may or may not agree with me, but I need to vent!! I hear faculty complain about sites like Ratemyprofessor all the time, but after this semester I know that they are completely necessary, imo. Unfortunately, the woman that is my Orgo professor was the only one teaching Orgo 1 this semester so I was forced to sit for her class. I took the opinion, based on her reviews, that she rated poorly due to the difficulty of the material which can cause students to give undeserved bad reviews. I think I should have paid a little more attention to them!

    I have never before sat for a class where a professor went out of her way to set her students up for failure. She lectures right out of the book, reaction for reaction, and then creates these tests that look like nothing you have ever seen before. Just figuring out the question is an answer all in itself. I have friends who attend other local universities who get test questions on the equivalence of "What does 2+2 equal?" compared to what we get tested on.

    I am not a genius by any stetch of the imagination, but I have a damn good head on my shoulders and I have to say that this is ridiculous. The class average on last weeks test (the last one before tomorrows final) was 38% (9 right out of 24 questions)!!! You could almost do that by closing your eyes and pointing at an answer!! She didn't release the scores for the last test taken two fridays ago, until this past friday (2 days ago) at 6:30 pm!! The final is tomorrow!!!! It sure would have been great to be able to have time to review the test to see where I went wrong!! Oh well, I guess it doesn't matter because she specifically told everyone to not bother her with emails and cancelled her one weekly office HOUR!! Are you kidding me?? It's bad enough you only give us one hour to see you during the week all semester, but you are going to cancel it the week before tomorrows final!?!?!?!?!? Oh, and you can forget about a review for the final, while of course not required, would have been nice considering this is the hardest pre-med course there is.

    I worked my butt off this semester and had a solid B going into the last test, but because of how insane this test was (the previous tests were marginally a little more manageable with 14 and 11 being the averages out of 24), I now need a B+-A- to get a B in the class. Am I way off base thinking this is ridiculous?? I know this class is hard. It's supposed to be, but aren't our professors supposed to give us better than a snowball's chance in hell to do well in it??

    Please tell me if I am wrong, because I surely don't think this is right. I am so frustrated, I feel like having a word with the head of the department or the Provost of the college. Your input, whether you agree or disagree, is greatly appreciated. Who knows, maybe by telling me I am way off base might be oddly comforting...
     
    Last edited: 05.11.12
  2. MedPR

    MedPR

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    To some extent the teacher always has something to do with your grade, but the majority of it falls on your shoulders. For example, it's her fault she took so long to report your grades for that exam, but it is also your fault for not speaking up sooner. If I don't have a test result back in 3-4 days or by the next class period (whichever is longer), I contact the teacher either by email or face to face. You don't have to be rude when you approach them, and often times it works in your favor to show them that you are concerned about your grade and would like to know how you did and what you got wrong. I sent my A&P teacher an email about a test this semester and he hadn't even realized he didn't upload them to blackboard though he finished grading them the day of the test. Within an hour of sending that email the grades were uploaded and he thanked me the next class period for letting him know.

    As far as teaching easy stuff and testing hard stuff, I've found that a lot of people feel that way about their organic chem teacher. A lot of organic chem is simple concepts that are presented in very confusing ways. This is how my organic class was last semester. As always, it is the students' responsibility to learn to integrate various concepts and be prepared for any sort of question. Some teachers are nice enough to say something like "this is a simple concept that I will present in a difficult way on the exam," but not all are and they certainly aren't required to be that way.

    Unlike so many students that I've known personally and via SDN, I 99% of the time take the stance that learning and performing are the student's responsibility. The teacher is there to teach, you are there to learn.

    With that said, I have certainly had my share of "bad" teachers who were unclear about the material, did not get grades back promptly, and were not available for office hours or simply did not care to help you even if you asked for help. However, you can usually figure out that your teacher sucks very early on in the semester and make the decision to either drop the class or work harder on your own and seek help elsewhere (TAs, tutors, online, friends, classmates, etc).

    So, I understand your frustration, but at the end of the day you are 100% responsible for your grades. You can bank on ADCOMs not caring about how awful your teacher was.
     
  3. FutureSunnyDoc

    FutureSunnyDoc like a room without a roof Bronze Donor

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    Sounds rough! I can understand your frustration seeing that 39% class average. Ratemyprofessors is usually on the mark, in my experience. Good luck on your final!
     
    Last edited: 05.06.12
  4. curt656

    curt656 Dinosaur Pre-Med

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    Thank you for your response! I agree with everything you said. I fully believe in the students responsibility, but also believe that a professor has a responsibility to her students as well. There are professors who go out of their way to work with you and those who are polar opposites like this woman. I don't think it's too much to expect something somewhere in the middle.

    With respect to the test grades, there was no class after the last test as this past week was a reading week. She told us specifically not to email her this week as she would be too busy writing the final to answer. All she had to do was have a TA walk to the testing department and run the scantrons and post the results. I took a final on thursday and the results were posted the very next day, nit to mention hours before those Orgo scores!

    I am also of the opinion that a professor should test what she teaches. If you want to test on the
    most difficult material that incorporates multiple facets of the concepts, then you should do examples of that in class or provide some guidance as to what to expect. Don't just go over the basics and then beat us upside the head come test time. Her test questions go to the extreme of most anything presented in the textbook.

    You can't just throw lipids, nucleic acids, and amino acids into a test tube and expect a cell to form. You have to know the way to put it all together. Ask Ventner about that, lol!
     
  5. VackAttack

    VackAttack

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    I know how you feel... it's the same at my university, where each of the 3 teachers are completely different grading wise. But the one who has the lowest test scores always curves massively, so you may get that from your teacher... Just study hard and do well!
     
  6. Morsetlis

    Morsetlis SGU MS-4

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    You know, I didn't check a single professor before going into the class. I only met one bad one in my entire college career.

    Because of the apparently prevalence of these professors at your school, it might be worth it to be more careful next time. Now that it's finals time, you obviously can't withdraw. But you can be more careful next time.

    Regardless of the professor's style, go to their office hour and talk to them. Ask them about what THEY think is relevant to study on the exam, and how in-depth your knowledge should be.

    At my state-school-full-of-Asians, the average never went below a 60% raw. So, yeah, that's some tough breaks.
     
  7. dmf2682

    dmf2682

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    Agree with medpr completely. One thing that a lot of students tend to do is expect material to be fed to them. A reasonable expectation given the tuition we pay, but really you're paying for the credits, not the instruction. You need to be more proactive about your learning. If the professor sucks, use Khan or a Klein to supplement. If you need more practice, the internet has a wealth of practice problems and answer keys.

    One more thing I have to point out. The key to organic is not to memorize reactants and products, it's to learn how to figure out mechanisms so you can solve anything. That way these exams way out in left field will seem more like easy grounders to first :)
     
  8. ShoTyme

    ShoTyme We're going STREAKING!!!

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    I understand your frustration. I agree with others that organic concepts themselves are not impossibly difficult. But drawing on what you already know to make inferences about reactions you have not yet come across is where the real knowledge is. Klein's book helped a lot, but I found Khan Academy to be underwhelming for organic chemistry, though I did watch a few videos.

    Your professor sounds a lot like mine. One of my exams this semester, I received a 49% which was good for an A. But as dmf said, if you know the mechanisms, you will be able to solve any problem presented. This is easier said than done of course. Keep plugging away, as I'm not sure that another professor will be any easier for you. It seems like this is the way organic chemistry is taught. It will all be over soon and you won't ever have to worry about it again. Good luck!

    Sho-
     
  9. Dan1804

    Dan1804

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    I heard of a group of p-chem students taking questions from their exams and homework to their dean of sciences--also a physical chemist--who agreed with them that the problems were too difficult. He took over the class the next semester.
     
  10. wholeheartedly

    wholeheartedly Moderator

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    As someone who's done a bit of teaching, I agree that it's the responsibility of the students to learn the material and there are quite a few who expect things to be spoon fed to them. I've usually enjoyed challenging classes where others criticized the instructors for being "too hard." Generally, I've had only myself to blame for not hitting my targets in various classes.

    However, I've had a couple of instructors who seemed to have made it their sole purpose in life to power trip and screw over otherwise hardworking and intelligent students. Some of the behavior I've seen has been downright juvenile. (i.e. student with doctors note about father having a heart attack not being excused from a test to go home and be with him when he might not make it) It's just stupid. Some people just don't have any business teaching.

    I also disagree with the whole we pay for credits, not for instruction thing. I'm paying for both. I realize that might make me an idealist, but my current graduate program has managed to find a solid majority of profs who are good (not necessarily awesome, but good at least) teachers in addition to being good researchers. So it is doable, the administration just has to make it a priority, as mine has.
     
  11. GenusTide

    GenusTide

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    My O-chem professor stood in front of our 225 person class and said "students who got below 20% on the last exam to just stand up and get the f%^$ out of his class." There is definitely a correlation between research schools orgo professor attitudes and non-research professors. But I can honestly say I know organic inside and out and received a rec letter from him stating I was in the top 1% of all the students he has taught (92% raw before curve). So out of a seemingly hellish situation, Some good and possibly great can be found. Keep your head up.
     
  12. curt656

    curt656 Dinosaur Pre-Med

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    Well, first of all, I want to thank everyone for their most candid assessments. The message I received, in the nicest way possible - sans vitriol, was to suck it up and quit my whining, lol! I guess this is the first professor I have had who has operated in this fashion and given very little guidance other than to spew the reaction out of the book onto the board and then test you in the hardest possible way.

    To prepare for the final, I basically started at chapter 1 and did every freaking problem in the book all the way through the chapter 11. It took me a solid week but it paid off big time and I was able to salvage my B. While a B is not very satisfying, it is a hell of a whole lot better than a C so, while a small victory, it is bittersweet.

    Thanks again, and enjoy your Summer!!
     
  13. Dan1804

    Dan1804

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    Good work! : )
     
  14. hawaiiguy

    hawaiiguy Junior Member

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    I took organic chemistry from a notorious professor whose name is legend on our campus. This guy did a math and chem undergrad (like me), and got his Ph.D. at Harvard from a Nobel Prize winning chemist. I heard so much stuff about this guy, that I started freaking out and asked my chem lab T.A. about him. He said, "Yeah, I don't have to take any classes from him because I'm a pchem guy, but the other grad students said he is HARD." That freaked me out. This guy is such a hard ***** that he used a book for our intro orgo class that another adjunct professor from a nearby university said is a graduate level textbook for organic chem.

    The average for the first exam in a 200+ student class was 28%. Only 10 of us got above 70%. People were freaking out as they started envisioning their careers in medicine, dentistry, etc... slip before their eyes. He said in class, "I'm getting asked if there is a curve, or what is considered an A for the exam. I wouldn't hesitate to call a 90% and above an A." I think people were starting to faint.

    I eventually managed to get an A in his class. My grade progression went from 70%, to 86%, to 94%, to a 97% on the final. And, although he was hard, he was fair. He had a policy that if you are failing his class but somehow manage to get an A on his final, he will give you an A in the class. His final was basically questions from the first three exams, plus some new ones from the last chapters. Anyways, I've lost some years from my life from that class, but damnit, I learned orgo so well I could compete with the grad students in organic chemistry. He was a cool cat, but I have to say if I done it all over again, I wouldn't have taken him. I became more neurotic because of his class.
     
  15. dmf2682

    dmf2682

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    Since this thread got bumped I'm going to follow up with a recap on my easy professor with his progressive style.

    So for most of the year I was under the impression that I had an easy professor. I'm taking classes at a satellite campus of my local state school. Initially I was under the impression that it was a cc but I confirmed they're the same as main campus classes. Anyway. Convinced he was just being easy on us. There was no curve, simply because the class average was usually between 75-80. After talking to folks on here and seeing some of their exams I sort of got the impression the difference was mainly in the volume of material tested at any time, and maybe we skipped a couple parts of the curriculum, like radical reactions polymers and mass spec.

    Anyway. Long story short we took the national organic exam a couple days back and I did OK. If you use the percentile scale from last year I got somewhere on the order of 96%'ile which I'll take happily, especially considering our prof said there was a fair amount of material that we didn't learn.

    I guess what I'm getting at is that it might be the prof that makes the difference, but I would say a lot of it has to do with the volume covered. Maybe there's something in saying less is more, and if you cut out some less relevant stuff (he did say he tailored the course towards pre-health students) you can focus on the fundamentals, which lead to more success down the line.

    My two. Good luck to anyone taking it in the future. Some more advice- if you're relying on memorization you're doing it wrong.
     
  16. NightGod

    NightGod

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    The college I'm attending in the fall has an orgo for pre-professional students. Hoping for an experience like you had with it (learn the important stuff, less focus on the minutae).
     
  17. CW 2010

    CW 2010

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    Sounds just like my Orgo professor from the last semester. He made sure we did not succeed in his class. As much as I do believe that YOU have to do the work to learn the material and do well in the class, unfortunately, your professor matters. He or she may make the tests unimaginably difficult, setting you up for a failure. I received a B in this Orgo class, which I think is extremely unfair because I worked my butt off and I do know a lot, and it's the ONLY B in my straight-A transcript. Oh, well...
     
  18. realmeaning

    realmeaning

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    What's ridiculous is the teaching part. The average test scores are honestly pretty in line for a competitive college class (orgo averages at my undergrad were about 40% and 50% for the first two tests-- it's a weed out class). Although, if you're going to a public, local university, I suppose it is a bit surprising.

    I agree that the lack of teaching is incredibly frustrating. I'm sorry. : ( Good luck.
     
  19. Pose

    Pose Senior Member

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    Just wanted to chime in and say I had a bad orgo midterm last week. I've always been an A student, and this is my last pre-req sequence. I knew the material by heart before the exam, and I could do every end of chapter problem. On the exam, almost half the points were for problems that we have never seen in lecture nor in the book, as he wanted to see how well we can use what we know to formulate new rules and answer new questions. I mismanaged my time, didn't figure it out, made up a FAKE synthesis, and then wrote "I don't know how to do this, because we haven't covered it yet. Ideally, there'd be a way to make what I just drew work, so that's my best effort." I also didn't have time to go back and look for careless errors on problems with high margin for error.

    I haven't gotten the grade yet, but it feels awful. A frustrating experience.
     

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