Saturday, October 22, 2011

Complaining About Students Online

Profhacker has a post up warning about the dangers of complaining about students online. I'm a bit surprised (but pleased) to see that several comments point out that there might be some value to students seeing such complaints, including the possibility that it might help students "realize how ubiquitous (and therefore) legitimate those complaints are." So far, however, noone seems to have hit on the alternative of posting such complaints in a pseudonymous forum. I'd suggest it, but Cassandra doesn't have a Disqus account.


  1. But if ubiquity equals legitimacy, doesn't that make student complaints (e.g. the class is too early, too difficult, clashes with my vacation in an exotic location)valid?

  2. I think students need to know about their professors' challenges. Students are often unaware of how much effort goes into helping them, and when they are made aware, they always seem surprised. I think the problem with our model of education is often that we contribute to their thinking that they are the customer and we are there to serve them because we don't emphasize that we are in a relationship together and that neither of us is the customer.

    That said, I'm not sure an online forum such as FaceBook or twitter is the best way to go about creating awareness. I have found that talking with my students in a nonthreatening manner about general behaviors and commiserating with them about challenges from both sides is more helpful since a meaningful dialogue opens up, rather than simple venting and complaining on both sides, thereby rendering everyone defensive. I often explain to them how their behavior is interpreted by professors, to which they always respond with: "Oh, we didn't think of it like that."

    That said, sometimes the power relationship set up doesn't allow for an open exchange of relationship development to take place when students are feeling chastised or belittled, so the right relationship has to exist.

  3. Considering that I just posted the above on College Misery, I am full aware of the irony of also being a regular contributor to this blog. I will admit, however, that I share postings from this blog from time to time as a way to start conversation about student (and professor) behaviors by sharing with them something I read "online" (you know... that big nebulous, yet specific, source).

  4. I guess it is one way students should learn - instead of just complaining and complaining they should rather make something more productive than complaining. Besides, they are taking online degrees and certification so they should as well learn some lessons from it.


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