Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bad Lecturers

We don't want to know that *the rate of infection of Serratia marcescens in your RCH neonatal ward dropped from 32% to 11% (p < 0.001) in June 2004 after infection control using Chlorhexidine Gluconate, two out of three nurses who washed their hands got less G- bacteria in their finger nails, while a patient with Leuconostoc infection presented with fever on the third day of admission - we only want to know what we can learn from them. We only want to know what we could do to help our patients, not the fastidious detail of your glorious studies.

youngyew, 10.59PM, February 27, 2007

So everyone has heard complaints about bad lecturers, but how do we really know whether a lecturer "sucks ass"?

Having just had a suck-ass lecture this morning, I gained a whole new insight in this issue. The lecture was about "Infection Control in Hospital", and the lecturer needs some serious re-education in his presentation skills. As the title said, the lecture was about infections in hospitals, how we could contain them, and the results achievable by some of the common infection control methods. Well, if you think the title sounds boring enough, you are just about getting there. The fact is, it turned out to be much, much worse than what the title promised to be.

So here goes the story. It was 12am 12pm, the lecturer came in and started the lecture, as usual. After some initial setting up, he began mumbling through his slides. Initially it was rather easy-going, because he was basically repeating some of the background knowledge which we had already gone through in the past few weeks.

5 minutes into the lecture, things changed. The quality of the presentation deteriorated into a string of words, so was the our level of alertness. Those who were prone to fishing were slipping into their oblivion, while those who are scared of missing a single word in the lecture were struggling along the slides.

The lecturer was bad.

He basically talked about everything and anything that came to his mind, and his powerpoint presentation was about the same as his speech - incoherent, disorganized, verbose, and dry. Can you imagine how he droned on about 5 different studies about infections in the hospital, and showed us every single detail of the date, time, events of each study as if it really mattered or we really cared? It seemed to me as if he was trying to condense his whole research career into an hour of lecture and can't wait to tell us about every detail of his research studies.

If he had the faintest memory of what a medical student expects, he should have done better, so much better.

The fact is, nobody cares about the details of your study. We hate lecturers who simply cut and paste the results and discussions of their research papers without synthesizing the information. We don't want to know that *the rate of infection of Serratia marcescens in your RCH neonatal ward dropped from 32% to 11% (p < 0.001) in June 2004 after infection control using Chlorhexidine Gluconate, two out of three nurses who washed their hands got less G- bacteria in their finger nails, while a patient with Leuconostoc infection presented with fever on the third day of admission - we only want to know what we can learn from them. We only want to know what we could do to help our patients, not the fastidious detail of your glorious studies. We don't want to listen to you zoom through 70 slides copied from your research paper, and end up with a knowledge constipation. We don't want to listen to lecturers who only spew information indiscriminately instead of instilling knowledge.

If I were to operate a university, I would personally listen to a lecture from a lecturer before I let him / her teach my students. Those who have presentation skill problems or don't care about teaching, should go back to their office and concentrate on their research.


*Note: I made up those details, but the actual content was actually along those lines.

10 comments:

Eric Fu said...

You have lectures at 12am, in the middle of the night?

In most universities, professor's tenure position comes as a package - teaching and research. Unless you're a full time researcher, you need to take up classes every semester while conducting your research. Professors with outstanding research usually teach badly because they can afford to do so.

Yong Chin said...

Ya, tailou, i agree with you. Some of my lecturer also very teruk. I still remember my math and physic lecturers (in first and second year) "conduct the lecture" using the mouse pointer, swinging from one end of the presentation slide to the other.We were like busy finding where is the mouse pointer instead of understanding what is he teaching. So, ya, those research base lecturers should undergo some teaching training before they give lecture.

However, from the other point of view, lecturers in university are not expected to teach, but stimulate us. In the other word, they are just the "key" or opener of certain field study for students and it is up to students to find relevant materials after lecture. Well, this is my dua-sen. Anyway, i do agree that those "tak-tahu-ajar" lecturer should not give lecture!

day-dreamer said...

I am quite surprised that you have those kind of lecturers at Melbourne University.

And I awfully surprised that you have classes at 12am... boy, isn't that eerie?

Ka Lip said...

Haha, if you were operating the university, you wouldn't have the time to actually listen to every lecture..

Anywho.. I didn't think it was that bad. I just wrote about 5 or so points to ponder from the first fifteen minutes or so, and then simply "pondered" throughout the rest of the lecture

hL said...

well.. it's 12 am.. what do u expect? go get a drink!

StanleyYP said...

serious...u sound like u are going to hold a demonstration in Melb U :P

If the lecturer is bad, I just skip lectures.....hehe.

YP

"Anonymous" said...

hey, I beg to differ, n let me tell you why. I love lecturers who dont sift through and teach us all important points only, because one hour of 5-star-worthy facts is going to flood everyone's brain. Personally, I take their putting in so much unnecessary details as their way of hinting to us that "hey, my this lecture is quite a load of crap possibly because the FEU (faculty education unit) allocated too long a time period for me to disseminate such little important info, i needed loads of crap to occupy the full hour". N why they chose to use research results and not use other ways to keep our attention eg cracking jokes? It's because researchers' reports were bound to put us to sleep, thereby giving us valuable energy to follow other lectures (which, hopefully have more important information to be taught) rather than making us stay awake n wasting our energy laughing at jokes. Also, I love such lectures because it means that I get valuable break when studying during SWOT Vac. (Week so-and-so is bound to be easy, because we had this lecture about all the irrelevant details that are non-examinable, meaning my work is 20% done!!)

So, it's the way you look at things, half-cup-full or half-cup-empty!!

Of course, this reply is again a full load of crap from someone who's just plain lazy and thankful to have one less lecture to read! :)

crushedguava said...

was that last comment meant to be sarcastic?

Neptune Chye said...

I also experience that stupid thing in my very first lecture. And the worst thing is that, I learn nothing from the lecture! Really ass-sucking!

I think, next time U might as well speak out this issue when this kind of lecture bores everyone...Ha!

youngyew said...

Those who think that I had lectures at 12am: Haha it's a typo lah... :P But to be frank, I feel that we would still have a full lecture hall even if they decide to have a 12am lecture one day. It's that crazy, you can't afford to miss out on many lectures in medicine. :(

Eric Fu: Yeah teaching and research.. Eerm, should we accept such a norm? Why couldn't we improve on the status quo, and let some people focus on research and let better teachers be the one doing the teaching? Eerm.

Yong Chin: Haha yeah the stimulating role... Probably after all those years, their "stimulating role" has worked despite our difficulties, so they never bothered to change the situation.

day-dreamer: I think that you will find not-so-good lecturers everywhere you go, even in Harvard, Cambridge etc. Good universities don't necessarily consist of only good lecturers. Good researchers, yes; good teachers, not necessarily.

Ka Lip: Haha yea lah... On retrospect it might not had been really that bad considering that there weren't really that many points to learn after all. :P

Stanley: Haha I was just exaggerating lar... it's some kind of "发泄" after all the stressing hours.

"Anonymous":
Very enlightening comment worr... Hahaha... :P

Crushedguava: You obviously don't know who "anonymous" is... :P

Neptune: Haha speak up to the dean arr? I think he wouldn't be interested, because as Eric said above, those people are the researchers + teachers, so you can't really tell them to step down or shape up. Perhaps it's just a part of uni life that everyone has to bear.