UW Graduate School

June 1, 2016

Bad Teacher


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!

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  1. Very good advice. As a former teacher, I think this student should definitely consider addressing this with the department chair. It’s standard teaching practice to hand out syllabi at the beginning of the quarter with clear due dates and test dates, so students can plan ahead (especially considering students have more than one class to plan around!). Returning homework to students in a timely manner so they can assess their progress before a test is also considered a good teaching practice. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    If the class is too big for the teacher to return homework in a timely fashion, perhaps the chair can assign an assistant. The condescension is not acceptable in any case, however.

    Comment by Jennifer on June 2, 2016 at 3:43 pm