Going to College

Transcript: Faculty pet peeves

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Hey, everybody, this is Dr. Marianne Miller. I am an Associate Professor and Assistant Chair in the Department of Management in the School of Business at Virginia Commonwealth University here in beautiful Richmond, Virginia. And I have been asked to spend some time talking about pet peeves that faculty have about students. And also some pet peeves that student just might have about faulty.

Certainly from the faculty perspective, I would consider myself an expert. There are some pet peeves that faculty have, gee, attendance, or lack there of, would be a good pet peeve. The way you’re going to learn things in college is by going to class. At least that’s one of the ways that you’re going to learn them. And it is bothersome to faculty when students attendance isn’t very regular, or if people show up late regularly, or they get up and leave, particularly if they do that in a disruptive way during the course of a class.

And closely associated with that general attendance pet peeve is a related pet peeve of students coming to a faculty member and saying, gee, I had to miss class last Tuesday, did we do anything important. Okay, let’s define important, important to whom, and why. I obviously thought it might be important, or I wouldn’t bother to show up to class to do whatever we did that day, and it hopefully would be important to you because it might be information of interest to you. Or at minimum something on, which you might later be tested, so any and every class are potentially important. So you shouldn’t be surprised as a student if a faculty member looks a little annoyed when you ask that kind of question, if you ask that kind of question.

Another pet peeve that faculty members have, students just not paying attention to where we are in the course, in other words, they haven’t read the syllabus, may never have read the syllabus. You know what a syllabus is, it’s that thing that either gets distributed in hard copy or posted on the web that outlines everything that’s going to happen in the course, when your assignments are due, when the exams are going to, when you have papers to turn in, all that kind of good stuff, what your reading assignments are, what the professor’s policy’s are with respect to grading, or attendance, or other important things related to class administration. And yeah it is important to be familiar with that information, and have some sense of what are we doing today, where are we going, what’s my map, what’s your road map for the class in terms of topics we’re going to cover in what order. So [inaudible] I really recommend that students try to stay on top of that, because it is bothersome to faculty if students are oblivious to those kinds of things.

What would be another pet peeve? Here’s a sign of the late twentieth and early twenty first century, cell phones. Turn them off in class, guys, okay? Please don’t be text messaging during class, or because you’re bored, flip open your laptop, and you might act like you’re talking notes, but we really know what you’re doing, you’re emailing your friends, or you’re scoping the web, or you’re doing anything else other then attending to what’s going on the class, or taking notes in the class. Okay, I know there are a lot of folks who do use their laptops for classroom purposes, and good on you, but, unfortunately professors encounter a lot of students who aren’t using their laptops for that purpose, and the text messaging is a drag too. So, you know, please, if you’re not going to, if you’re weren’t planning to pay attention in class, why come? Okay.

Pet peeves that students have about faculty. Wild, sometimes we can be boring, or talk in slow monotones that just put a person to sleep. That’s a legitimate peeve, absolutely. I have an obligation as a faculty member to present information in a why that’s going to be engaging to you, and hopefully hold your attention and help you learn something. So yes that’s certainly a legitimate pet peeve on the part of students.

When professors assign a lot of really expensive textbooks, that also another very legitimate pet peeve. Textbooks are extraordinary expensive, and sometimes you can get used ones, or electronic versions of text that don’t cost as much money, but it is a big investment. So when students are unhappy about the cost of their textbooks, I can understand that, that’s a legitimate pet peeve. And it’s also a legitimate pet peeve when students say, yeah, we have to have these books, but then the professors doesn’t even really use them, or reference them. That’s annoying, also, and I can totally identify with that one, as well.

Other things that faculty do that drive students crazy. Sometimes students don’t feel that faculty are very responsive, or don’t respond quickly enough, or in a timely manner to voicemail or email messages. And that very well may be true. I would simply ask students to remember that often when I come in, in the morning, for example, I’ll have, [inaudible] thirty, forty, fifty, some emails sitting in my invoice, some of which I can delete immediately, but a lot of which need my time, and thoughtfulness in responding. And so, [inaudible] that’s a time consuming thing, same thing with voice mail messages. You folks might be real used to much more instantaneous communication with your peers. But that certainly can be more difficult for faculty. So, you know, while I understand the annoyance and the, that that, that’s a pet peeve for a lot of students, not getting fast enough communication from faculty, I would beg you to have a little understanding for us on that one, we’re working on it, we have a lot of people that have demands on our time.

And that’s, those are the big ones that I can think of, and I thank you for your time, and hope you are enjoying your college experience.

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