Monday, May 30, 2011

How to deal with the Clueless Professor

Whew, what a day... I'm going to going to go into details, but the Booger discovered a long-lost marker, & basically dyed himself into a spring green Booger. Oddly appropriate. 'Washable' apparently does not apply to toddler skin.

To continue my 'how to deal with professors' series, we'll be studying the Clueless Professor.

"Like, a good example of like, mitosis, is when like, when I split one
credit card bill over, like, two other credit cards! Get it?"

Who is the Clueless Professor? Proffessor Clueless is the guy (or gal) who got a degree in something completely unrelated to whatever they're teaching. For example, my Art History 101 was taught by a kuma hula (hula teacher). She hated art. I wish I had a video of her description of Donatello's statue 'David'; imagine a very *ah-hem' large Hawaiian woman giving this hilarious statue (look at that hat! look at that tiny weener (edited out)! Why is he wearing boots while buck naked?!) blown up to life-size on a projector her most withering look, & saying 'eh, eet one NEEKKED leetle boy, I guess Donatello he one drunk old perv, yeeh? I no like eet, NEXT SLIDE.' I shed tears of silent laughter.

"Problem, kumu?"

The Clueless Professor is probably a pretty nice guy, & will usually always be quite cheerful, which makes you want to forgive him for his lackadaisical teaching approach. My College Reading teacher was the sweetest lady ever, but then when someone made a comparison between two famous works & she gave the class a blank look, we all mentally face-palmed.

Signs you've got a Clueless Professor on your hands... Classes are usually fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants evens with Clueless Prof on deck. One day it'll be watching a video that barely relates to your subject, the next free study, & suddenly a pop quiz. Hopefully its not as bad as my Psych 101 classes where the prof took requests on what we wanted to talk about. Hint, we're in the class to learn about what exactly we should know about psychology, not infer what we should know.

Another clue they're clueless - asking for more information, or an alternate method of doing something, will lead to an obtuse answer or a stone-wall approach of telling you to research it on your own.

Lastly is my least favorite hallmark of professors who don't know how to teach their subject - group projects. Not every single professor that assigns group assignments is clueless, but those that issue three or more a semester very likely are. Why? Because group assignments require little to no interaction between professor & students. They also usually result in an easier grading process - instead of 40 projects or essays or presentations, they only need to grade ten, or less. Also, a group project can easily take over several classes, unless a professor feels really spiteful, & assigns it to outside of class time.

How to handle a class taught by a Clueless Professor... Tips from my other professors guides stand up well in a Clueless Professor class as well. This prof is more likely to accept a little guidance in how students would like them to teach a class, if you have some suggestions - more demonstrations of concepts, more time in the lab, etc. Team up with your peers to present ideas as a group - if the professor hears a consensus from most of the class (there's always going to be slackers that like a hands-off professor), they're more likely to implement changes.

You're likely to have a group project or two in your college career. I pretty much loathe them, as it always seems like there's a Bossy Leader, an I Don't Care What We Do type, a Guy Who Never Shows Up/Does Nothing, & me. Here are a few tips to get through them!
  1. First off, draft up a plan for the project. It should show a timeline for each step, from research, compiling useful info, conducting experiments/interviews/other activities, recording results, crafting visual elements (posterboards & Powerpoints, for example), generating a script for the presentation, & practicing it.
  2. Involve everyone. Everyone has something assigned to them, & they agree to be responsible for it. Make a simple chart noting what everyone is expected to do, so there's no bickering later about who was supposed to do what.
  3. Trade emails & phone numbers with each other, & note when you can be reached. Consider using Skype or another web conferencing tool to meet outside of class.
  4. If you notice someone failing to meet expectations, try to get in touch with them & find out what's up. If you can't reach them, or they just aren't getting it done, do it yourself. It sucks to have to do more work than your share, but a shared bad grade is still your bad grade.
  5. Mentioned in step 1, but schedule time to actually practice presenting your project! This will drastically increase your project grade, & gives you a chance to see where rough spots are before the presentation is in progress. At the very least, try to meet up 15 minutes before class to run through it once or twice.
Hope this guide helps out when college rolls around again!


  1. Clueless professor? :D Never had one, luckily, i guess :D

  2. they are the worst, since they make you waste your time, I hate them!!

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  3. hahaha thats awesome! great post!

  4. Good tips, and my art history teacher was the same way...I hated it because she was obsessed with any art that showed a dude naked...and every slide she had was filled with naked dudes

  5. Yeah these are some good tips. I've dealt with a few clueless professors in my general education classes. For the most part my CS professors knew their stuff.

  6. They're always too nice to be nasty or mean to, I quite like them, except for the fact that you don't learn what you need to all the time.

  7. thanks for the tips, I'm glad most of my profs are great :)

  8. Good advice. I've had some professors like this in my tenure as a student, they're usually kind ok if you're the kind of student who doesn't plan to learn much, just wants to coast.

  9. very good tips! thats exactly how my classmates dealt with a professor haha

  10. Auuuuuugh I hate group projects. Your tips for surviving these situations were quite nice though, thanks for posting.

  11. I remember when I used to learn in high school, the PE teacher got the degree on mathematic :/

  12. Excellent post, bad professors really ruin classes. Working with other students really does help with the problem

  13. Oh man, i read that in her voice and lost it :) I no like eet!

  14. people with more power than knowledge is the worst