The Evaluations - Comments

I've spent some time recently reading the comments made by students on the teaching evaluations done for my classes last semester. I'm happy to see that no one has criticized me for being lazy or uncaring. Say what you will, I'm not that. However, some of the comments are strange, bizarre, and even just wrong.

So I'd like to reply to some of them (mostly the negative ones). Check it out. (Warning: extreme snarkiness ahead--both on my part, and on the part of those writing the comments.)

From PSYCO 104: Basic Psychological Processes:

"Switched my major to psych - enough said"
Hey, don't blame me.

" was impossible to know everything from the book, so therefore, I think he should give us topics he wants us to know from the textbooks."
So I should tell you what things you should skip--the things that won't be on the exam? Seriously? Look, just come right out and ask for a copy of the exam.

"Practice questions available...might be helpful."
How about the ones on the textbook website? Or the ones on MyPsychLab?

"I felt he 'dumbed down' most of the course by speaking like we were in elementary...would have preferred 'neurotransmitter' to 'little tiny chemical messenger' as we had all been taught the correct terminology + should learn to use it. I felt almost less intelligent when leaving the class."
I didn't realize that my using these terms would result in such a profoundly negative experience on your part. Next time, I shall forgo the use of any and all colloquialisms in favour of technical jargon. Enjoy!

"He is...incredibly patronizing. So patronizing I felt this class exemplified everything that is wrong with contemporary university. An expensive textbook going out of date that is 'not his fault.' Crude jokes and entertain an absence of genuine understanding of themes. Instead he collects a group of discrete facts. But, mostly, I felt patronized by the method in which the class was conducted. I read a book suggest that university are daycare centers for adults, and this class epitomizes that phenomenon."
I fixed all of your many spelling mistakes. But I left your grammatical errors in. Didn't want to be too patronizing. Wow--I can't believe I actually succeeded in exemplifying or epitomizing anything. I want to thank my mom and dad, the academy, and everyone who voted for me!

From PSYCO 267: Perception:
"You were late by up to 15 minutes for every! class. I do not respect that at all! If you are here to teach and we pay for this course then we deserve your full attention for the full time each week."
I was not late for every class; that is false. I was late to this class by 15 minutes; I admit this is true. But I was not late for every! class. Did I have to cut out some lecture material? No. Any lecture material? No. Did I have to race through every lecture to be able to finish all the material? No.

"...the textbook was almost not worth reading because a) there was much overlap between the lecture and the text and b) the exams did not really test the text. Perhaps more exam questions based on the text."

"...exam content was based on [the textbook] and not lectures which made it seem like coming to class was useless."
Hey, would you like me to introduce you two? I think you'd have a lot to talk about.

"Assigned readings in the textbook would be nice."
Er, I thought I did that. In the syllabus. Where it says, um, "Assigned readings." Are you saying the fact that I put this in the syllabus was nice? Um, you're welcome.

"[Long verbatim quote from Hannibal Lecter to Clarice Starling, but with 'Agent Starling' replaced with 'Professor Loepelmann.' You can listen to the Lecter quote here.]
PS. You're so vain you probably think this questionnaire is about you."
They have all kinds of really great drugs that can help you. I hope you feel better. I sincerely do.

From PSYCO 365: Advanced Perception:

"The quizzes were helpful to keep up to date with the readings."

"...the weekly quizzes were a waste of time..."

"I enjoyed the quizzes because they helped my grade."

"I like the idea of quizzes and I did well on them but they were kind of stressful."

"M.C. [multiple-choice] component should be added"

"I was glad to finally have a psych course with long answer written exams."

"...the material should be made less abstract."

Can you see the trouble I have in trying to make everyone happy? It's impossible. How about I try this: I will structure my course in such a way that you'll be able to learn things, which you may--or may not--enjoy. This will mean employing means of assessment that you may--or may not--enjoy. I will cover material important to an understanding of advanced topics in the area of perception which might be philosophical and/or abstract which you may--or may not--enjoy.

"You rock! Don't change a thing..."
Well, now you're just confusing me.

Why aren't you studying?


Anonymous said...

I appreciate the tightrope you're walking trying to balance depth with accessibility in course content. That said, you did manage to be patronizing in your reply to the student who accused you of being patronizing.

Karsten Loepelmann said...

Well, I guess I'll count that as success at something. Yay. (You know, for a statement to be seen as patronizing, it has to be presented in a certain way--but also received in a certain way.

For someone to interpret something I say as patronizing means they have to assume that I, as a person, would choose to be patronizing--which I would not do. So that says more about the person finding me patronizing that it says about me. So there.

Anastasia said...

Actually, a copy of the exam would be just dandy. Thank you.

Karsten Loepelmann said...

@Anastasia: I've heard this request a lot. Sorry, but I can't do it.

First, in my courses that have multiple choice exams, my exams include questions from a test bank given to me by the publisher of the textbook. These questions are copyright, and cannot be released.

Second, I could release just my own questions, but then there'd be no point in putting those questions back into an exam. Many students would just end up studying "for the exam" as opposed to studying "for knowledge."

Yes, I could keep making up new questions, but that is actually pretty hard to do. And I'd just end up asking more and more obscure things, and the questions would start to lose their validity.

Finally, I do a lot of statistical analysis of the question I use, to ensure they have inherent value as an assessment tool. If I use new questions all the time, I'd lose that important information. I'll post more on that in the future sometime...

Anastasia said...

Well, I was actually kidding. I am not even currently in your class. But I am surprised that there are those who ask you that and seriously expect you to give them a copy. I hope they at least try to bribe or blackmail or something! (that's how you know they care)

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