LSU Removes Professor for grading too hard

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Hortonka, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. ProfTim

    ProfTim Member

    One of my colleagues refers to this as the "Burger King" method of teaching. The student gets to have it their way. If the class is too hard, we simply make it easier for them to pass. After all, we are preached to daily about being a "student centered institution"!

    I personally am finding it much harder to teach my classes these days because of the student centered mentality with less emphasis on quality.
  2. BlueMason

    BlueMason Audaces fortuna juvat

    <nothing to add... self explanatory!>
  3. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

    Perhaps Dr. Homberger can be invited as a "guest star" to the board so can support her!
  4. TonyM

    TonyM Member

  5. 224L

    224L New Member

    Parent of LSU biology Student

    My daughter is a student in this class. She is an honor student on scholarship and was barely holding on to a passing grade in this class. In all of her other classes she has A's. According to her, the teacher would ramble about philosophy, news events, etc. for most of the class; give reading assignments and ask the most obscure questions on tests and quizzes. She met with the teacher for help and advice and was told to study more. The students formed study groups and a facebook group to help each other, but got no help from the teacher.

    In the article the teacher stated that grades improved for the second test. Based on my daughter's info that is correct, the average went from mid-40's to 60's.

    I do not believe in giving grades where they are not earned and have always taught my children to study and work hard for their grades. But if 90% of the class is failing including honor students, then there is a definite problem with this teacher in this class. My daughter's scholarship should not be put in jeopardy because of an obviously ineffective teacher, without it we would not be able to afford college and she has worked hard to achieve it. LSU made the right decision in this situation.

    The article states her recent experience was with senior level and graduate level classes, if she is successful there, then she needs to stay there.
  6. ITJD

    ITJD Active Member

    To 224L -

    Thank you for your information and the below reply is my own opinion not reflective of the board itself, the administrators or any of the other posters.

    If your daughter is an A student in high school and first year of college and she is getting poor grades in an instructor's class who specializes in upper-level courses, then she is not an A student at the college level.. yet. First year classes are little more than amped up high school seminars.

    Yes I agree that if the majority are failing then there may be something wrong with the teacher, but there is no such thing as a lone point of fault or failure in any social exchange and based on your disclosure that you are a parent of a special student, you are by definition biased in favor of the student argument and no more right or valid than the media article.

    I'd personally love to hear the side of the wackjob professor that's getting villified. (Note as of right now I do consider the prof wacked.. and the parent a bit victim of the perfect snowflake syndrome.. not that anyone cares.)
  7. TonyM

    TonyM Member

    The professor does present her side in the article. I disagree with your point that, "If your daughter is an A student in high school and first year of college and she is getting poor grades in an instructor's class who specializes in upper-level courses, then she is not an A student at the college level." "College-level" is a wide range, and introductory courses are not the same as advanced courses. It's quite possible that the professor expected freshmen to perform at a higher level than appropriate. It's also quite possible that the LSU administration gets many of these complaints but only takes action in extreme cases.
  8. scaredrain

    scaredrain Member

    As a college instructor, I often get the same "I was a straight A student in high school" or "I was a straight A student before I was in this class." I am currently teaching a undergraduate level programing course and I am hearing these same sort of statements from the students. It is a 10 week course and some of the students are shocked that they have to actual create programs! One even asked why we did not have just multiple choice tests instead of programming projects. This programming class is the first they will encounter in a series of other programming courses. As my department chair said, the course I am teaching is to weed out those who are serious about programming and those who cannot handle the upcoming programming courses, which are quite tough.

    Students are not going to get all A's in every single subject. I am not saying this professor was right in what she did but students have become used to automatically getting A's in every single class and when they encounter a subject they are not doing well in or they simply do not know first hand, they get upset and the grievances start flying. If your daughter was improving then that means she was learning something. Biology can be a tough subject, when I was an undergraduate student, I had a biology professor who told us from day one that this was a hard subject and he did not give out many A's, that if you earned them, you earned them and he was right. I earned a C in that class, the only C I had on my entire undergraduate transcript for my bachelor's degree.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2010
  9. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef


    Oh wow, I'm loving 10 possible answers. I can't believe that never occurred to me as a teacher. I'll tell you why. For starters, every instructor will agree that mc quizzes are the easiest to grade. For time spent, you can't do better. But, what makes them hard is writing good choices. You need to have clear winners (no one likes "trick" questions) but the down fall is that the student who is a moderately talented test taker can usually pull through a mc question without too much trouble. Often times it's simply picking out the one that's different or doesn't belong and you still have a 25% chance of hitting a right answer. Even if you just went through a 10 question quiz and marked "A" for every answer, you are likely to get SOME points.
    What I like about more options is removing the guessing game.

    I have an Anatomy Physiology 2 instructor who has a PhD and is the science chair. She kicks a$$ at writing tests. The down side, is that they usually kick my a$$ lol, but really she does a good job. Her ability to require synthesis of the information is very well done, and to be admired. I think teachers *maybe new ones more than anyone else* really don't write tests well. Even after I took courses on how to write tests, it took a lot of years before I really could assess my students properly. It's too bad this professor is taking a hit for doing a good job.
  10. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

    It is quite obvious you have never taken a Microsoft Certification Exam :D Sometimes all the answers seemed "wrong" and sometimes they all seemed "right" :eek: Then, my favorite type of question - pick all that apply...
  11. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member


    I am one of those talented test takers (more than just moderate :D). In one high school class I interpreted the previous semester, I was only in attendance for about 40% of classes (shared the work with another interpreter who took 60% of the classes), with NO background AT ALL in the subject matter. On exam day, I looked at the test and quickly realized three things:

    1) ALL of the short answer questions contained enough information WITHIN them to actually answer the question.

    2) About 33% of the questions were actually re-worded duplicates of other questions that appeared on the same test.

    3) Enough information was contained in some questions to be able to successfully answer about another 33% of the test correctly.

    If I had taken the test myself, I would have gotten the highest score in the class, maybe even 100% if I guessed correctly on the one or two that I couldn't figure out. Add that to the mockery that I made of the CLEP information systems & computer applications exam, and you have someone who isn't very impressed with the format of most multiple choice exams. What they are typically capable of if VERY limited, and anyone who doesn't get nervous during tests should be able to get at least 50% correct on just about any test even without having any previous exposure to the material.

    BTW, does anyone here know what an information system is? I don't, but the College Board sure thinks I do.
  12. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef


    You are right! I have not taken a Microsoft Cert Exam. I have taken a few of the "pick all that apply" and they are torture. I'm thinking more on your standard mc test where you have 1 letter answer.

    Re: Maniac - yes! This is exactly what I am talking about!! Last semester, I had a few exams that were impossible to guess at. For example, if you were given 10/5= ? The mc answers would be: 2, .5, 50, 5, etc. In this case the instructor clearly knows what mistakes are typical and plugs them in as choices.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2010
  13. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    Brutal, yes. I think you would agree, that kind of test IS though but it is evidence of a good professor. It takes a lot more work and experience to make a test like that. Also, can you imagine the work involved in creating and grading a 10 choice test? A Scantron, or similar, wouldn't work, it would have to be done by hand. As the professor, it would be difficult to make oneself work that hard, would take dedication, IMO.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2010
  14. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    Is this an example of the social context of narcissistic personality disorder? "To Homberger and her supporters, the university's action has violated principles of academic freedom and weakened the faculty." The individual characterizes feedback on her instructional style as an attack on the academic freedom of the LSU professorship, presumably to avoid personal responsibility for her actions. Again, narcissistic persons are often extremely logical within the boundaries they presume.
  15. TonyM

    TonyM Member

    Are 10-question multiple choice tests recommended in any pedagogy literature? They seem excessive to me. Wouldn't it be better to use an altogether different type of question if you don't like the standard multiple choice tests? She might have given take-home projects, essays, short answer or fill-ins instead. A good professor is one whose students are likely to learn and succeed. The amount of work spent on developing and grading tests doesn't mean much if the students aren't learning.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2010
  16. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef


    Well where does pedagogy come from?? :)

    I think this is a case of using a mc test in a better way. There is no added time to grade a 10 option mc test. You are only grading a letter answer- what's the diff if the letter is ABCD or L? On the other hand, if you have many students, "open ended answer" quizzes are not practical.

    I would also argue that tests are not necessarily a student success tool, they are first to evaluate. Success is optional. The student, could, then use the test to help see where they have gaps, but that's an unusual student who studies the PREVIOUS chapter when the class has moved on.

    Clearly, the college doesn't agree with me lol, but I'm simply saying that I understand the professor's points.
  17. TonyM

    TonyM Member

    Maybe the prof was trying to do a good job, but it wasn't working out. If a roomful of students are failing your class, while passing all their others, or if most students of the same caliber are passing biology 101, but failing yours...then the fault is probably with your teaching.
  18. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    Funny- each time I see someone write "mc test" I keep thinking McTest. In the context of this discussion, that may be an appropriate way to refer to it.
  19. ITJD

    ITJD Active Member

    Feel free to disagree. My belief is this:

    The ranges are undergrad, grad and dissertation. Students and professors range in ability. If you are not mature and responsible enough to wade through the difficult and the easy, you are not an A student at the college level you're undertaking. College isn't just about taking courses, it's about advancing through stages of maturity through dealing with adversity and internalizing course material to become well-rounded.

    If my son came to me and said "I'm doing poorly in this one class and getting awesome grades in other classes" my first response would not be to go after the tough professor, it would be to question my son's effort, ask questions about what he is doing and then question the integrity of the remaining teaching staff. If I've done that, found that integrity is sound by looking at syllabi and rubrics, and that my son is doing a reasonable amount of what I'd consider college level work, then I'd go after the instructor in question.

    Thing is that at an individual level that's a good deal of work. Parents who don't align well with education or are too busy are going to take the easy way out and point the finger at anyone but themselves and their special snowflake. Same with administration at a college, they're going to take the most expedient way through a situation to "resolve" something.

    Thing is there's two meanings to resolve. One implies seeing something through to the end, and the other implies direct closure. Doing the right thing in this situation isn't easy and people get offended.

    Nuff said on my soapbox. I can't stand people who can't cut the standard or people who make excuses for it considering the stuff I've had to go through to earn an education. So in that sense, I'm biased.
  20. ITJD

    ITJD Active Member

    ..and after taking 17 of these exams over the last 10 years I can add another type of question to the mix...

    "Here are four answers, choose the best one.. keep in mind that there's the Microsoft answer, and the one that works in the real world because the technical solution per Microsoft won't meet legal or business requirements anywhere. (or simply won't work outside a perfect lab)."

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