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Instructor failure to follow syllabus

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by cbrons, Dec 7, 2008.

  1. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    My chemistry teacher gave us a syllabus at the beginning of the year. It said we were to have 4 exams, 10 quizzes (and only count the best 8). I find out last week he is only going to give us a total of 3 exams and 6 quizzes. There is nothing in the syllabus that says he can change the syllabus at anytime. In my opinion, his failure to live up to the contract between him and students is solid grounds for a grade appeal (assuming I get a grade I don't like). What do you think?
     
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  3. tnig469

    tnig469 No more Kryptonite!
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    Most professors will give out a tentative syllabus...but if it didn't say that anywhere on the actually paper, I suppose you could argue.
     
  4. cliffhuxtableDO

    cliffhuxtableDO Hand sanitizer on deck
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    its probably a battle not worth fighting. you dont want to get a bad reputation with the department.
     
  5. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    At our university, there is no "tentative syllabus." All instructors are required to issue syllabi that clearly state what is required of the student in order to receive a certain %. They don't have to list the exact material they are going to cover but they do have to list their grading criteria.
     
  6. amph119

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    Oh c'mon...
     
  7. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    you're probably right but the difference between a B and C is important for a med. school applicant.
     
  8. xanthomondo

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    That's lame. Argue it now if you don't agree. But don't hope to see what you get an say "eeehh I'd like a little better grade, I'm gonna bring up some BS when it's too late".
     
  9. chemnerd89

    chemnerd89 In it for the lulz
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    I agree. Professors definitely talk.
     
  10. DrYoda

    DrYoda Space Cowboy
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    I suspect that any attempt at this will result in a fail.
     
  11. 175961

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    At my former school a student actually got into this type of argument with one of the profs in the biology department and he actually got a lawyer involved. I wasnt sure of the outcome, but every class I took I noticed the fine print at the end of the syllabus that said "I reserve the right to change this syllabus" or something along those lines so the prof could change whatever s/he wants to. Unless you are the verge of getting rejected from medical because they tell you that the grade you received in said class was not an A and you didnt get an A because of this change in the syllabus and otherwise you would be accepted into medical school if it wasnt for this one single grade........I wouldnt pitch a fit over it, there are bigger things to worry about than a prof not following his/her syllabus to the very point
     
  12. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    Why is that lame? I think thats the smart thing to do. Of course if I do get a grade I don't like, and what to argue about the requirements retroactively, it would make me look bad. I'd rather figure out my grade right now before we have one final left... then if I saw it was insurmountable, I would argue it now. But I can't figure out my grade now because hes changed the percentage he's weighted everything - for instance, our labs were supposed to be 15 points each, and that was changed to 10. It also says in the syllabus that HW is not graded but he started grading homework halfway through the semester (and has not returned them or issued a score).

    Like someone else said, I don't want to piss off the chemistry department if its not necessary. If I get a grade that doesn't bother me too much, maybe its not worth the fight. Some people fight on principal, others fight after analyzing the costs/benefits of doing so. The latter types are called intelligent people, the former are morons.

    It also doesn't help that the teacher speaks an indiscernible version of English (as well as the TA)... thats another issue but it sure makes getting clarifications difficult when I don't have access to a translator.
     
  13. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    and thats the other reason I don't want to argue about it before the semester is over. If its over and I complain about it, then he can't go retroactively change my grade... not that I think he would, he seems like a nice guy but that doesn't make the fact that he missed several classes and was inadequately prepared with his lecture materials (powerpoints missing, his flashdrive was grounds for no less than 5 cancelled classes) my problem. If he would have properly planned for the semester, we would have had time for what he put in the syllabus. To go back and amend it (and in the process, screw over the vast majority of the class) is pretty ridiculous.
     
  14. efitzpat

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    Most of my syllabi say something to that effect or "A syllabus is not a contract and can be changed."

    I don't think you'll get very far by using that as grounds for a grade change.
     
  15. mmmcdowe

    mmmcdowe Duke of minimal vowels
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    I agree with this poster. Fight it now, or not at all.
     
  16. TRN1983

    TRN1983 MS1 - I.e. "Know nothing"
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    I'd say >50% of my courses are "tentative". Its just a fact of college. However, I I were you and thought it was necessary I'd politely approach the professor about it and tell him you had "prioritized" on previous assignments based off of what was on the syllabus. Maybe he'll provide you leniency. However, I wouldn't take it too far. JM.02
     
  17. 175961

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    yeah I was talking to a buddy of mine who just graduated from law school about contracts and he said that a large majority of the piss poor "contracts" that people make up (like a boss making you sign a no competition contract so that if you quit you cant go and work for the same type of company in the same area until after a certain amount of time) are worthless and can be ripped apart in seconds if it actually goes to a lawsuit. So if thats the case, trying to say that your prof has to follow this "contract" probably wouldnt hold up
     
  18. SiR99

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    Believe me your not going to win, ONE students complaint isnt going to change anything. The only way would be if you had a bunch of students in the class complain about it.

    Its sad, but students usually dont have a say, unless its to the point where Alot of students are failing and the university just cant have that.
     
  19. DrYoda

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    I meant I don't think arguing will work. Whoever hears your appeal is just going to assume that you noticed the lack of a "I maintain the right to alter this" at the bottom of the sylabus and use this to undeservingly bump your grade. That sucks that he didn't have things in good order, but regardless I don't think your plan will work. But if you think it's worth it, go for it.
     
  20. cpants

    cpants Member
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    Not worth arguing. There is no possible benefit to you. If the administration ruled in your favor and forced the prof to give more tests/quizzes and accept the higher grades, the prof would probably just make the new tests/quizzes a couple orders of magnitude more difficult. Hence you would not improve your grade and you could possibly hurt it. At the same time you would garner hard feelings between you and the professor and get a reputation for being a pain in the ass. Just do your best to succeed under whatever grade structure the prof has given you, and then complain in your feedback forms at the end of the course.
     
  21. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    At least 5 people have already talked to the provosts office about it. Most are graduating seniors. A lot of other people want to but feel like he'll curve the final grade or something so it won't turn out too bad for them.

    yeah you're probably right that they wouldn't take it seriously and I probably would piss off a lot of his colleagues in the process, which isn't smart considering I have to take more chemistry classes in the future.. and thats why I won't raise any issue if I don't get a grade that will really hurt my GPA.

    I mean, why would I go to great lengths to get myself a late withdrawal from the class when I've already done 15/17 weeks of work for it? That would be a pretty dumb thing to do if it isn't absolutely necessary. I wouldn't ask to get my grade changed to something higher, since that's not an option in a case like this.
     
  22. ami1983

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    i tried to do something similar when i was in undergrad because the prof raised the cutoffs for grades at the end of the semester, directly contradicting what was stated in the syllabus and causing me to lose an A that i worked really hard for. i went through the ombudsman's office at my school that is supposed to handle these types of situations, and after a bunch of back and forth they told me that the prof could basically do whatever they wanted with regards to assigning grades. i wanted to fight it, but because the people took so long it was like a year later and i didn't care as much then. do it now!
     
  23. Chemdude

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    Dude, don't do it.

    In my first semester of freshman year, I was sort of cocky. My BIO I professor was making the stupidest tests ever. Acting like the smart-ass I was, I sent a hateful message to the whole class(700 people) explaining how "Dr. X's tests were stupid, and how she should quit teaching and stick to research." She responded back by sending a message which mocked me as an "inexperienced freshman just out of high school." I feel like such an idiot for doing this. I ended up with the highest mark in the class, but I totally lost her respect; I could have gotten a sweet rec or done research in her lab.

    Never get something started with a prof.

    God, I feel like such an idiot...
     
  24. xanthomondo

    xanthomondo nom nom nom
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    What the hell were you trying to accomplish with that email, anyway?
     
  25. xanthomondo

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    The people who fight based on principle are morons, eeh? It appears you have some growing up left to do. Why would you do anything that doesn't benefit you directly, anyway?

    If you would like be to make a "cost-benefit" argument, if you wait until you see your grade to declare war for a "changed syllabus", you will not look a whiny prick, you WILL BE a whiny prick. The teacher (and anyone else you raise this argument) will see right through you, that you are only bringing this up because of a grade you wanted and you didn't get.

    It's a wondeful argument that you should and would have gotten an A in the class HAD you had more exams, nevermind the fact that you have gotten a C on every other test in the class. Give me a break.

    Just remember, if you don't get an A its totally not your fault, how could you overcome a: 1) changed syllabus and 2) a teacher who couldn't understand? Tell them that on your med school interviews.
     
  26. katarina90

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    I agree with chemdude.

    Some professors change things A LOT. Sometimes changes will work in your favor (like making an assignment easier or deciding to allow an equations sheet on a test, for example) and sometimes they won't (a calc professor once banned calculators halfway into the course).

    But if you are going to challenge, make sure you do it in a diplomatic and nonthreatening way, for example:

    I had a professor who once said that we could challenge questions on an exam if we believed they were unfair by submitting a written argument. I was the only one who elected to do this, and I actually think it made the professor respect me more for making an effort instead of just venting to other students (prof said that he appreciated that I took the effort, also still recognizes me from class which is cool) even though grade-wise, it didn't make any or much of a difference.

    But usually, since that whole "subject to change" clause is written into the syllabus, its a difficult case to make to enact a change in the actual structure of how a class is graded.

    If it were me, I'd let it go and probably avoid taking that professor in the future. Also, I would mention this in the course evaluation (if your school does that) at the end of the semester if it still bothers you--since course evals are for feedback purposes anyway.
     
  27. Bacchus

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    The "He doesn't speak English" is such a bull**** item to bring up. This is not as insurmountable as people make it. Attacking someone, who obviously is thought to be worthy by the administration, on their ability to speak English is cowardly. Is the class being taught in a foreign language? If not, stop complaining, own up, and finish the class dignified.

    You can complain to someone. You might get more exams. But, by doing this you'll piss off classmates, the professor, and anyone else that is involved. If you do well from the beginning you shouldn't need crutches to get through.
     
  28. RSAgator

    RSAgator Junior Member
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    Are you still able to drop the two quizzes? If not then that's pretty messed up, but if so then I don't think you really have much to argue...
     
  29. airplanes

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    :laugh: + :thumbup:
     
  30. Chemdude

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    Everyone was complaining about the tests, so I decided to do the "herioc" thing and stand up to the professor. I actually got a lot of fan mail after I sent the hate mail.

    Looking back, I think this was the stupidest thing I could have done. So yeah, I didn't accomplish anything.
     
  31. JackInTheBox

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    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Unless your professor isn't going to make the exams and quizzes worth a larger chunk of your grade (i.e. the total points to bad had add up to 80, but you need a 90 for an A), you're just being a crybaby.

    Just like we gossip about professors, they gossip about us. I've TAed for several classes, and you'd better believe that the TAs and professors talked **** about whiny pre-meds when we meet to grade exams and stuff.


    QFMFT. It pisses me off when people complain about professors with accents. I've had Chinese, Japanese, Russian, German, and Indian professors; I've never had a problem understanding any of them. If those people who complained spoke the professor's native language half as well as the professor speaks ours, then maybe they'd have a right to complain.
     
    #30 JackInTheBox, Dec 7, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2008
  32. bioteach

    bioteach MSIV
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    As a former college bio dept faculty member, I would recommend not saying anything. Since you will be taking future courses in the department, it is honestly in your best interest to just let it go. If you were never taking another course in that department and just wanted to be a real pain in the ***** to this professor, then you could go for it.

    In any given dispute the department will always back the professor over the student. For something as small (yet annoying, I know) as this I wouldn't risk it.

    All of my syllabi stated "subject to change", and you probably should assume that of any professor regardless of whether it is stated or not. It is not necessarily fair because the syllabus is supposed to be a contract between the professor and student, but the power balance is not exactly equal. Such is life.
     
  33. billy72583

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    The OP reminds me of the reason I never called myself a "premed" in undergrad.
     
  34. xanthomondo

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    "Dr. X's tests were stupid, and how she should quit teaching and stick to research" is what you call standing up to a professor?

    wwooowww :laugh:
     
  35. Handy388

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    you just reminded me how douchey some high school kids were, who thought they were the **** because they passed all the AP exams.
     
  36. wasteoftime

    wasteoftime master plan
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    stop crying so much and just get good grades on the tests and assignments you have. doing crappy on the first test because you thought you had 3 more exams instead of 2 to bring up that bad score is no excuse to go whine and whine to the dean.
     
  37. KeyzerSoze

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    Not sure why this makes it harder to figure out your grade...
     
  38. cpants

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    Gonna have to disagree with you guys on this one. If you've been able to understand all your lecturers, that's great for you, but not all of us are so good at translating. I pay a fortune for my education, and I am not getting what I pay for if I can't understand the lectures. I have had lecturers that are just plain incomprehensible. Part of the qualifications for being a professor should be ability to speak understandable English, period. If you're real smart but you can't speak English, stick to research or learn the language. Oh, and I can speak a second language better than some of my professors speak English.
     
  39. 175961

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    Wrong, just plain wrong. My lab instructor for physics was so horrible that if he happened to see you in the hall reading he would walk by and say "HI!!!! STUDY!!!!" In a loud I-want-to-say-more-but-cant-speak-english-for-the-life-of-me. I brought it up with the supervisor and he told me that they heard (yes, simply word of mouth) that he could speak english well despite being from out of country. They hired him and have regretted it ever since. Needless to say, they canned him and he isn't teaching any labs next semester. Just because someone is teaching doesnt necessarily mean they are worthy of it. The administration may have thought they were. They didnt even give the dang guy an interview for petes sake. Administration and departments dont always do the brightest things

    Right, 100% right. If I'm forking over 3 freaking grand + a year I want to be able to understand everyone who is in charge of teaching me the material. If I want to learn <insert topic here> from someone who speaks <insert language other than english here> then I will go to <insert country where instructor is from here> give me someone that I can understand dang it!!

    and no, I'm not a racist SOB. my ochem lab instructor is from india and speaks well enough to understand and to be understood and I enjoy having his lab. my lecture prof for physics is from some middle eastern country and he too speaks well enough for good communication. If you can be understood, good. if not, GTFO and learn english if you are gonna be teaching
     
  40. Chemist0157

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    Unless you both signed the syllabus in blood, I don't think he HAS to follow it. Hardly any of my professors follow their syllabi, and they don't call them tentative.
     
  41. Thrombomodulin

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    #40 Thrombomodulin, Dec 7, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2013
  42. Character

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    people need to stop complaining.
     
  43. Character

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    act like an adult
     
  44. dragonfly99

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    I agree it is not really fair to make drastic changes to the syllabus this far into the semester. It sounds like your prof is disorganized and not too good.

    I think you should not fight this, as you will not win. The department will back the professor. If you do decide to fight it, do not do it alone...get other students to "sign on". I do think you should bring it up on the course evaluation, to help others who come after you.

    Regardless of the grading structure, you should strive to do your best consistently on every exam and assignment, and then you won't have to worry so much about what the prof is doing vs. not.

    Professors should be able to speak English well enough to be understood easily - otherwise they should not be teaching. Foreign accent is no problem, but speaking so poorly that students cannot understand you is unacceptable.

    I am very happy I got the chance to attend a school with GREAT teaching. I only had maybe one prof. in undergrad who sucked, and he got canned right after I took his class. Consider a small liberal arts college if you want good teaching - they don't hire people just because of their research credentials and they usually don't' keep folks who aren't excellent teachers. The sucky profs get canned quick.
     
  45. Isoprop

    Isoprop Fascinating, tell me more
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    not quite as much as you think.
     
  46. TheBateman

    TheBateman Pre-Med Killer
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    Fight on principle!!
     
  47. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    alright well I probably should've known all the SDN tough guys would come out to get their licks in on this one... . To clarify, I didn't say that the professors inability to speak English had anything to do with my argument... I was stating that as an aside.

    Thanks for the advice to all the productive posters. I haven't complained/raised an issue about anything yet but I know several people in my class already have. I thank the posters who reminded me of the dangers of challenging faculty members... I didn't think about some of the potential consequences of doing so.

    Some tried to turn me into some winey little nerd, and thats fine. It really isn't my fault most of them never got laid and were picked last for kickball in elementary school. The great thing about the internet is you can take all that rage welling up inside you and let it all out anynomously via web forums. So heres to you tough med/pre-med students who so brazenly talk smack over the interweb... This buds for you boys :thumbup:

    [​IMG]
     
  48. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    again, I didn't bring his inability to speak English up as a potential argument. If you give a syllabus out at the beginning of the year, follow it for 90% of the semester and then before Thanksgiving get lazy and skip a bunch of classes and trim the class down 300 points ... well forgive me for being so unreasonable/lazy when I don't like it.

    I doubt I'd piss off any of my classmates... Many of them have already talked to the department chair. So at this point, its not even worth it for me to do anything. All I wanted to do was get a discussion going about the topic in general.. oh well... I should know better than to think a topic like this could be approached productively. Thanks for your advice anyway though.
     
  49. Handy388

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    beer is so cool!
     
  50. bcat85

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    This is exactly what I thought too.

    "You... you're not going to give us more tests and quizzes? Well then... I guess I'll appeal the grade you give me."

    Don't waste your time.

    And don't be a tool.
     
  51. speedyk

    speedyk Junior Member
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    I don't understand what you would be asking for... do you want him to give you another exam and 4 quizzes? I don't see how this could be an argument for raising your C to a B, as you suggested before.
     

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