Material taught vs. assessments about them

I feel old and rusty having not written in ages.

I have so many draft posts and so little time to formulate a blog post. Thankfully this whole time wasn’t a writer’s block, rather a writer’s-lack-of-time.

So excuse me if my style’s clumsy as I haven’t been writing for quite a while.

Ready to hear me rant? Let’s do it. (haha)

I’m currently taking six courses this semester, with six different professors and six teaching and learning styles for each course. One of the courses is an Electronics course with a professor that also taught me another Electronics course about a year ago. My critique lies with the fact that this professor’s teaching style is, in my opinion, a weak strategy, or one that doesn’t push me, as a learner, to learn.
What happens is that the professor teaches the most basic principles of the course in class, and can repeat the same concept over and over throughout the class to ensure that it’s well engraved. Naturally, the basic concept of anything is not a challenge to understand, so in class we are under the impression that this concept is a simple one, and we will be able to tackle problems based on it easily.

I am fully aware that we must read beyond what the professor teaches in class and beyond our notes, but we must be encouraged to do so, or given hints that what is being taught is insufficient.  That is unfortunately not the case with this professor. We are constantly told the exact opposite: that if you understand what is being said in class and take class notes then you’ll be more than fine. (Yes, I also know that understanding the basics is important to understand the rest- but the rest isn’t even touched on inside the classroom)

The first time I was told this; I was ecstatic. The course is easy, I know it from the inside out; perfect. I sat my first exam and had a mental breakdown after it. No joke.
I couldn’t solve most of the questions on the exam, I felt completely betrayed. I barely scored a passing grade.
I started attending classes with an indifferent mindset, just taking notes and waiting for it to be done. Before the second exam, I started looking for a textbook (no textbook name was even written on the syllabus!). I spent weeks before the exam self learning, watching tutorials for how to solve, and developing a technique to tackle the problems. And that paid off, big time, because I scored drastically better on the second exam. But I noticed that if I hadn’t done that preparation, I would’ve done worse because the difficulty level of the exams was increasing.

After that, I attempted to communicate with the professor by asking questions in class relating to difficult problems, or what-would-happen-if questions. These too, failed as he continued to bring me back to the loop of knowing the basic concepts and understanding them alone.

I decided to work independently from then on wards, I took notes in class just in case I needed to look at them later, but went home and stepped up my learning and problem solving on my own. I did generally well on the course, but with extensive effort and time.

There was an undeniably huge gap between what was being said in class and the assessments. But that wasn’t the only problem. The problem was that the need to refer to other references and to train for challenging problems was never communicated or emphasized. There is no way a person can use these class notes to solve the types of problems on the exams; they were just too advanced. It’s like learning the alphabets in class and being asked to write a two sided essay on the exam.
Not only did I spend so much time and energy, but I lost the learning motive, and was practicing just to pass the assessments.

So that was me, as usual complaining about everything.


2 thoughts on “Material taught vs. assessments about them”

  1. Great post and good point! It’s unfair to you as learners and future engineers to be taught this way…is it ok if i quote you in different venues? Do you prefer anonymous or by name?


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