UW Graduate School

June 1, 2016

Bad Teacher

Hello, 

Older graduate student who has had a career already so have a little life experience. I took a class with a teacher who was incredibly condescending both to the undergraduates and the graduate students — I pushed back a bit on this but got nowhere. Unorganized, due dates and test dates were “fluid” (as in they kept changing) and homework did not get graded in time for tests. We did learn a lot about this person’s history and background though… I feel like I owe future students some sort of action or at least a heads-up.  — What can I do?

Yikes, sounds horrible. I appreciate that you gave nothing away about the class or instructor. I trust that you filled out the class evaluation. This is probably the easiest yet most impactful  thing you can do. Future students can look up class ratings in the Course Evaluation Catalog. And in addition to the instructor, department coordinators and administrators also see the evaluations. 

You can also try a online rating site like Rate My Professor. Just be aware of the many biases of sites like this. I would also try taking your concerns to the GPA/GPC of your department. It’s important to create a written record of some type.

I reached out to the Office of Educational Assessment, which replied, “Students do have other places to turn; which is most effective probably depends on the type and severity of the unprofessionalism. Speaking with the department chair can get a note in the faculty personnel file, while talking with the UW Ombudsperson can address more significant breaches. The Ombud is also a great starting point to learn about other appropriate avenues of appeal.”

Hope that helps. Good luck!

Ask the Grad School Guru is an advice column for all y’all graduate and professional students. Real questions from real students, answered by real people. If the guru doesn’t know the answer, the guru will seek out experts all across campus to address the issue. (Please note: The guru is not a medical doctor, therapist, lawyer or academic advisor, and all advice offered here is for informational purposes only.) Submit a question for the column →