Author Topic: Uni: What do you do when your professor knows less about a topic than you do?  (Read 4833 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline TheUnnamedNewbie

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 948
  • Country: 00
So I have an exam about multimedia technology tomorrow. The course is broad and covers a lot - from psychoacoustics (how do humans percieve sound) to virtual-reality oriented standards to how does a printer work. The problem I'm having is the following:

Due to my hobbies, I know a /lot/ more than some of the depth some of the topics go into (notably photography and sound recording). The professor himself is not exactly an expert on these fields and doesn't know much more (or at least he seemed to) than absolute basics when it came to the operation/strong and weak points of image sensor types (CCD vs CMOS) or display types (basic knowledge of TN, but that is about it). He even made some errors on some points.

Now what I'm wondering is, how do you deal with this (in general or during an exam)? Should I try and memorize what is covered in the course slides, even if it is outdated or incorrect? How do you approach the professors about this without coming across like a know-it-all snob? An example in this course: is, "CCD is used in modern DSLR cameras, CMOS is not good enough" which is just not true anymore, I think pretty much any DSLR in the last 5 years, even in medium format cameras, uses CMOS sensors because they have surpassed CCD in most, if not all respects). Similar examples exist when it comes to microphone technologies, and it gets worse when it comes to display technologies (suggesting all LCDs are TN,...).

Any tips/experiences of similar nature?
Ho
The best part about magic is when it stops being magic and becomes science instead
 

Offline blueskull

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 13559
  • Country: cn
  • Power Electronics Guy
Write whatever he wants you to write on paper, and get an A+ first. After being graded, talk to him privately.
 

Offline Halcyon

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3914
  • Country: au
Should I try and memorize what is covered in the course slides, even if it is outdated or incorrect?

Ahh, I had this exact experience in high school, admittedly very different to university, but in both cases exams are generally designed around the content being delivered (right or wrong). At least in university you have a right to a review and appeal, but I guess that depends largely on "is it worth it?", you'll probably find the answer to that is no.

I had a mathematics teacher trying to teach fundamental computing. Even in early high school I had more professional experience than she did in the field. Unfortunately she was one of these people who couldn't be reasoned with and sided with the answer from a 1980's text book instead.

In the end, it cost me a single mark, so instead of 100% in an exam, I got 99%. I still know I was right but it wasn't worth pushing the issue.

It's unlikely that a significant number of the questions will be wrong, in most university exams, you'll be hard pressed finding a single question/answer combination which is poorly or incorrectly written. If it were me, I would put down the universally correct answer (especially if it's marked by computer) and argue the point later, rather than trying to guess the source they used for the answer.

EDIT: I will also add that it's "just" university and it's importance differs greatly between fields, even organisations. Many (even Government) don't put that much weight on university certifications or grades.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 10:22:31 am by Halcyon »
 

Offline MK14

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2384
  • Country: gb
I'd be tempted, to use "diplomatic" answers, which have both the "old" and "new" answers.

E.g. Question "What technology does DSLR cameras use and why, for their optical sensors ?"

I'd say something like (take my actual answer, as being VERY inaccurate. It is only to highlight the concept)...

CCD use to be (up to approx 2010) the best/main way of getting high quality images (since CMOS at that time, was too noisy, expensive and insensitive) that DSLR cameras used for sensing technology, until (post 2010), it was largely overtaken by the much improved CMOS sensors, which had managed by then to solve the various technical issues, using various techniques holding it back.

But on the other hand, it may take too long, to give such answers, with limited exam time etc.
 
The following users thanked this post: alexanderbrevig

Offline X

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 184
  • Country: 00
    • This is where you end up when you die...
Due to my hobbies, I know a /lot/ more than some of the depth some of the topics go into (notably photography and sound recording). The professor himself is not exactly an expert on these fields and doesn't know much more (or at least he seemed to) than absolute basics when it came to the operation/strong and weak points of image sensor types (CCD vs CMOS) or display types (basic knowledge of TN, but that is about it). He even made some errors on some points.
Be very careful with that kind of attitude, it may bite back. I won't go into specifics, but let's just say I know this from experience. You may find your professor can teach you more than you think you know.

Just give him the answers he tells you to give him, and just write down about what he is teaching.
Forget about trying to do "old" vs "new" answers or whatever, just give him what he wants and you'll get the marks, plain and simple. It also makes it easier if you want to appeal answers which are marked wrong. Don't try to get too clever or cocky by adding your own derivatives or trying to be "modern" or whatever. If he's teaching from a 1980's text book, the exam will be a 1980's exam.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 10:38:07 am by X »
 

Offline Avacee

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 300
  • Country: gb
Ask your professor privately which answer he wants by explaining that due to your hobbies and outside learning that is beyond what his coursework covered you aren't sure how much depth is required with the answers and that you feel there is a potential ambiguity between current knowledge and the expected answers.
Explain that you are worried you don't know what criteria the exam will be marked against and would appreciate his assistance.

By demonstrating you've also read around the relevant topic you'll earn kudos points but don't go in saying "Your teaching is wrong and out of date" - that'll just put his back up - especially if you embarrass him by asking in front of the other students. Making Professor's look bad = you get a bad mark. Ask privately.



 
The following users thanked this post: MK14

Offline TheUnnamedNewbie

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 948
  • Country: 00
Just give him the answers he tells you to give him, which is what he is teaching you. Forget about trying to do "old" vs "new" answers or whatever, just give him what he wants and you'll get the marks, plain and simple. It also makes it easier if you want to appeal answers which are marked wrong. Don't try to get too clever or cocky.

I would like to point out that I don't think I'm smarter than the professor (not by a long shot), or think he is not suited. I have much respect for the man, he has tought me a lot and clearly knows more than I think I ever will - it's just that it seems to me he has been handed this curriculum by another professor (who teaches the dutch version of the course, I take the english version with a different professor) and is made to talk about stuff that isn't his field of expertise. It's also just one chapter of the book (on physical I/O for multimedia) where it is this way.

It's also an oral exam (I get a hour or so to prepare my response and then go to defend it with the professor who can ask me questions on details to see how much I know on the spot through understanding). It seems to make it harder for me because I can talk for ages about the topics and limiting myself to what is in the book is hard (might just be me being weird like that).
The best part about magic is when it stops being magic and becomes science instead
 

Offline kalel

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 880
  • Country: 00
I think this depends on the professor. Some would be delighted to know about your passion for the topic, as well as the 'additional research' you've done. Of course, there are those who don't like that you think on your own, because to them it might seem disrespectful (this surely depends both on the person's perception and your presentation itself).

It's definitely important to never make it personal (look like you want to show that you know better or that the professor himself/herself is wrong). Could information in a textbook (better if they didn't write it themselves) be wrong or outdated? Of course it could, and some will want to know. However, a test might not be the best place to make your impact.

You might be able to discuss the topic with your professor outside of a formal test, either by E-mail or otherwise. It should be okay that a student wants to contribute and help out, if that's how it ends up appearing.
If you want to go more in-depth in the oral exam, some will and others will not allow this. E.g. some, once they've heard enough about a single topic, will skip to the next one in order to save time, so there might not be time for you to provide additional information. But if you want to do so, just make it look like additional information, and not exactly a "this is all wrong, and this is correct" kind of thing. For that, you need to have more than your personal knowledge (scientific references, trusted sources, better yet sources that the professor considers reputable), and is better discussed outside of a test. I don't know if you have E-mail communication, but it might be one channel that allows you to provide links and references without imposing any pressure or seeming disrespectful (of course, that still depends on how the content is formed). 

With some people, they will dislike you personally for trying to provide this information. This result is awful. You didn't help them, and you didn't help yourself either.
Other people are open to communication. With them, you may feel good for trying to help out and modernize the class/exam for future generations. In the end, you have to trust your feeling and anything you know about the specific person in this case.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 11:08:29 am by kalel »
 
The following users thanked this post: MK14

Offline Gyro

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 5513
  • Country: gb
I think the high school vs University is the key point here.

My understanding is that most (all?) universities actively encourage / expect students to do their own independent research rather than just spoon feeding the course text book material and repeating it 'parrot fashion', as might be expected at school.
Chris

"Victor Meldrew, the Crimson Avenger!"
 
The following users thanked this post: MK14

Offline X

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 184
  • Country: 00
    • This is where you end up when you die...
I would like to point out that I don't think I'm smarter than the professor (not by a long shot), or think he is not suited. I have much respect for the man, he has tought me a lot and clearly knows more than I think I ever will - it's just that it seems to me he has been handed this curriculum by another professor (who teaches the dutch version of the course, I take the english version with a different professor) and is made to talk about stuff that isn't his field of expertise. It's also just one chapter of the book (on physical I/O for multimedia) where it is this way.

It's also an oral exam (I get a hour or so to prepare my response and then go to defend it with the professor who can ask me questions on details to see how much I know on the spot through understanding). It seems to make it harder for me because I can talk for ages about the topics and limiting myself to what is in the book is hard (might just be me being weird like that).
Limiting yourself to what's in the book will definitely help you to understand how to deal with the pressure of having constraints placed on your work. It is something you are very likely to learn well in the field also, but learning to limit yourself now will save you a lot of trouble.

If you do want to talk to your professor about this then word it in a way which shows that you may know the subject but you'd like confirmation and reasoning. For instance, "I've been doing #0 for a hobby for some time now and I was thinking about what you said about #1, and how it's so #2 compared to #3. I am a little confused and would like some explanation, because I thought #1 was actually more like #4 compared to #3, because of #5."

That way you are showing that yes you have had some experience with the subject matter at hand, but you would like to know why he thinks differently. It is possible the professor may give you some insight as to what is going on.

I think the high school vs University is the key point here.

My understanding is that most (all?) universities actively encourage / expect students to do their own independent research rather than just spoon feeding the course text book material and repeating it 'parrot fashion', as might be expected at school.
In this particular case, it depends on whether he is expected to do this in the exam or not. If they want you to do your own research, they will often explicitly tell you in the assignment description/requirements or exam study guide/materials. Requiring your own research is very rare for an exam administered on the spot, at least here in Oz.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 11:29:39 am by X »
 
The following users thanked this post: MK14

Offline Halcyon

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3914
  • Country: au
My understanding is that most (all?) universities actively encourage / expect students to do their own independent research rather than just spoon feeding the course text book material and repeating it 'parrot fashion', as might be expected at school.

You'd be surprised. My experience (in Australia) is that they really don't care as long as your student fees are paid up and that the "real learning" largely begins "in the field". Not to say university doesn't have its place, of course it does, but it's really about the fundamentals and a basis to build on. A degree in anything doesn't make you an expert. As they say "P's (Pass) get degrees".
 

Offline R005T3r

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 387
  • Country: it
So I have an exam about multimedia technology tomorrow. The course is broad and covers a lot - from psychoacoustics (how do humans percieve sound) to virtual-reality oriented standards to how does a printer work. The problem I'm having is the following:

Due to my hobbies, I know a /lot/ more than some of the depth some of the topics go into (notably photography and sound recording). The professor himself is not exactly an expert on these fields and doesn't know much more (or at least he seemed to) than absolute basics when it came to the operation/strong and weak points of image sensor types (CCD vs CMOS) or display types (basic knowledge of TN, but that is about it). He even made some errors on some points.

Now what I'm wondering is, how do you deal with this (in general or during an exam)? Should I try and memorize what is covered in the course slides, even if it is outdated or incorrect? How do you approach the professors about this without coming across like a know-it-all snob? An example in this course: is, "CCD is used in modern DSLR cameras, CMOS is not good enough" which is just not true anymore, I think pretty much any DSLR in the last 5 years, even in medium format cameras, uses CMOS sensors because they have surpassed CCD in most, if not all respects). Similar examples exist when it comes to microphone technologies, and it gets worse when it comes to display technologies (suggesting all LCDs are TN,...).

Any tips/experiences of similar nature?
Ho
You can't confront him, and keep the good stuff for yourself: less trouble and it's the fastest way to get your exam done. I know it may seem to be quite delusional and selfish, but even if it's old and outdated stuff, do  as he say. DON'T contradict him in a terrain where he rules. Otherwise you will have a hard time passing the exam because he might think to expect more from you, and then, if something goes wrong, you are done for...

I've learn this with calculus1, and as a result I had to transfer to another university because I couldn't pass the oral exam! Please, don't screw up your academic life it's already hard as it is... Don't make things more complex or difficult or you are done for!
 
The following users thanked this post: MK14

Offline EEVblog

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 31301
  • Country: au
    • EEVblog
Any tips/experiences of similar nature?

Don't tell them they're wrong in front of a class full of students, they tend not to like that.
So I've heard...  8)
 
The following users thanked this post: Howardlong, TheUnnamedNewbie, MK14

Offline alexanderbrevig

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 590
  • Country: no
  • Musician, programmer and EE hobbyist
    • alexanderbrevig.com
In Norway, knowing more than your instructor is the fastest way to get an A. I used the strategy with using a polite tone and when I knew something would come up that directly contradicts what we learned - I'd remember a viable source and added it to my answer.

Any good teacher, in my mind, would be excited by a student that has interest in what's taught.
Our game engine instructor (really just an advanced C++ class) always ended the class with; any comments, questions or mistakes that needs fixing?

I would agree that a conversation in private is the way to go if he does not have a habit of opening the floor for insights/questions/comments.
Good luck!
 
The following users thanked this post: MK14

Offline uwezi

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 271
  • Country: se
    • GreenPhotons
As a senior lecturer myself I appreciate when I meet students who know more than me in the field of our courses. It's difficult to stay up-to-date all the time and any help to do so is stronlgy appreciated from my side.

However, from time to time I experience that some students believe to know more about a certain topic (because they have seen it on the internet...). Having discussions with these students during class actually slows down the whole lecture and other students might suffer in turn.

When it comes to exams I have seen a few examples where a student found a much more elegant solution to a problem than what I had in mind, but these are - sadly - very rare cases.

My goal would be to get students to get information from other sources than just the slides, I would appreciate if every student would at least also read the corresponding parts from the text book. In advanced courses we use a lot of project work, where students actually are supposed to take in external information and also critically question all sources of information, including the lecturers' own slides and material!
 
The following users thanked this post: MK14

Offline vodka

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 510
  • Country: es
So I have an exam about multimedia technology tomorrow. The course is broad and covers a lot - from psychoacoustics (how do humans percieve sound) to virtual-reality oriented standards to how does a printer work. The problem I'm having is the following:

Due to my hobbies, I know a /lot/ more than some of the depth some of the topics go into (notably photography and sound recording). The professor himself is not exactly an expert on these fields and doesn't know much more (or at least he seemed to) than absolute basics when it came to the operation/strong and weak points of image sensor types (CCD vs CMOS) or display types (basic knowledge of TN, but that is about it). He even made some errors on some points.

Now what I'm wondering is, how do you deal with this (in general or during an exam)? Should I try and memorize what is covered in the course slides, even if it is outdated or incorrect? How do you approach the professors about this without coming across like a know-it-all snob? An example in this course: is, "CCD is used in modern DSLR cameras, CMOS is not good enough" which is just not true anymore, I think pretty much any DSLR in the last 5 years, even in medium format cameras, uses CMOS sensors because they have surpassed CCD in most, if not all respects). Similar examples exist when it comes to microphone technologies, and it gets worse when it comes to display technologies (suggesting all LCDs are TN,...).

Any tips/experiences of similar nature?
Ho
You can't confront him, and keep the good stuff for yourself: less trouble and it's the fastest way to get your exam done. I know it may seem to be quite delusional and selfish, but even if it's old and outdated stuff, do  as he say. DON'T contradict him in a terrain where he rules. Otherwise you will have a hard time passing the exam because he might think to expect more from you, and then, if something goes wrong, you are done for...

I've learn this with calculus1, and as a result I had to transfer to another university because I couldn't pass the oral exam! Please, don't screw up your academic life it's already hard as it is... Don't make things more complex or difficult or you are done for!

Welcome to Mafia Academic, i am sure that you faced with an academic of the kernel or bunker (Teacher that place on his owner and exclusive for this subject ).

I am with 6 years experienced with all sort of teachers(bunker, associates professor and  Docent and researcher personal).
 We are a teacher bunker that taught Electronic Instrumentation, this man was  approximatly a 62 years old, he  had a insane obsession with the comment of his students on forums. At one that comment, the teacher turned on rage ,so he banned all the calculators on exams for forever  :-BROKE.
Now , the reaction of some of my companion that made a manifesto versus the teacher. Simply ridicolous :palm:.
 "The teacher puts the exams too hard because he had a obsession with the  comments of the student on internet "

You do not do the silly , you don't face with him , although you are the reason, and pass the exam by any legal, illegal or alegal method.

*alegal: Situation on what there aren't a defined law , so it is difficult to determinate if it is a crime  or not crime.




 

Offline CatalinaWOW

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3560
  • Country: us
I don't know if professors have office hours in your school.  They were a requirement when I was in school, and then later when I was teaching, but I haven't taught in a public university for a couple of decades and things may have changed.

I can't speak for every professor, but I would have been delighted to have a student drop in and discuss this type of thing with me.  No one has the time to be expert everywhere and the chance to learn from someone else's effort is valued.  Office hours were usually not used by students, and most who did were trying to plea their way out of problems caused by their lack of effort.  The time to do this is before the exam, not after.  And obviously you don't do it with a "You dumb ass, here is the truth" approach.

If you haven't discussed the matter beforehand, answer with the presented materials.  Grading is tedious and even the most conscientious instructor will tend to just compare your response with the presented knowledge.  There is a chance for a reclamma but it is much more difficult.  Among other things the administrative overhead of making changes to grades and scores in the school data processing system is a barrier.
 

Offline vodka

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 510
  • Country: es

Office hours were usually not used by students, and most who did were trying to plea their way out of problems caused by their lack of effort.  The time to do this is before the exam, not after.  And obviously you don't do it with a "You dumb ass, here is the truth" approach.

Why will it be?  I have a companion lab that he had the bad idea of asking a doubt to a teacher. I adviced him that if he asked to teacher , he didn't resolve the doubt and you will return with more doubts.
He went to see the teacher and he went back with bad face. I asked him with How many doubts have you returned? .His answer  :-DD :-DD i have three   doubts more
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3560
  • Country: us

Office hours were usually not used by students, and most who did were trying to plea their way out of problems caused by their lack of effort.  The time to do this is before the exam, not after.  And obviously you don't do it with a "You dumb ass, here is the truth" approach.

Why will it be?  I have a companion lab that he had the bad idea of asking a doubt to a teacher. I adviced him that if he asked to teacher , he didn't resolve the doubt and you will return with more doubts.
He went to see the teacher and he went back with bad face. I asked him with How many doubts have you returned? .His answer  :-DD :-DD i have three   doubts more

Teacher using Socratic method?  Doubts are not always bad.  In most cases the more I know about a subject, the more I don't understand.  My surety of a subject reaches a peak when I have learned a little.  Then I get beyond the simple explanations into the details and special cases.
 

Offline kc8apf

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 103
  • Country: us
If you've waited until the exam to start a discussion with the professor, you aren't in a good position.  They've prepared the exam based on the material they presented and expect to evaluate your answers based on the same.  If you had engaged them when the material was first presented, you could have determined if they were willing to update their material.  I've had some professors who are and some who are not.
 

Offline Howardlong

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4830
  • Country: gb
Any tips/experiences of similar nature?

Don't tell them they're wrong in front of a class full of students, they tend not to like that.
So I've heard...  8)

Yip, I did that once, a week earlier my Digital Electronics prof had berated me in front of everyone for reading a tabloid newspaper in his lecture.

He was teaching digital logic back in the TTL 7400 days. I knew the TTL data book pretty much back to back, pinouts, propagation delays, you name it. Sometimes he got it wrong in the detail.

On this occasion he was describing the octal buffer 74LS244's enable, which he said was a two input OR, whereas I knew it was two separate enables from my head. So I called him out in class, as he'd done me the week earlier. I told him he needed a Nat Semi 81LS95 instead for that.

I don't recommend it, and neither do I recommend reading a tabloid newspaper in class!
 

Offline eyiz

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 92
  • Country: ca
Stay with what the Prof taught. Don't deviate. The prof may well know all the things you know, and you think he doesn't. But, he's not teaching it for a reason. Don't try to be "smart", it usually backfires. I was a TA for a Freshman Physics in college, and this kid used the Lagrangian to attempt to solve a simple Freshman physics problem. His setup was correct, but he made a simple mistake along the way, and ended up getting the answer wrong. I gave him some partial credit for his novel approach, and the Professor of the class chewed me out, and told me Freshman are not supposed to know about Lagrangians, he didn't teach that to them, and the Prof "re-graded" the problem and gave the poor kid a "0". The kid was just trying to impress the Professor, but it didn't quite work out, the Prof was annoyed instead. I'm not sure what would have happened, if the kid had gotten the answer correct, with his approach.

 

Offline vodka

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 510
  • Country: es

Teacher using Socratic method?  Doubts are not always bad.  In most cases the more I know about a subject, the more I don't understand.  My surety of a subject reaches a peak when I have learned a little.  Then I get beyond the simple explanations into the details and special cases.

I don't believe that they use the Socratic method . I think that they don't know to explain. I tell you many teachers of my university worked with my father on the petrol refinery. When the  bosses asked them (future teachers) ,the bosses went out with more doubts and they always finalished searching to my father or other person for resolving the doubts.

 

Offline Red Squirrel

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2452
  • Country: ca
One thing I learned quick in school and even college is that you are graded not on your own creativity but on your ability to recite what was learned in class.  Suppose even in the real world it's like that, companies have their own weird ways to do stuff sometimes and you just have to roll with it, even if there's a better way.

 

Offline tggzzz

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 11421
  • Country: gb
    • Having fun doing more, with less
Be aware that this kind of dilemma doesn't just occur in academia; it occurs with customers/clients as well. Diplomacy is a useful skill for engineers to learn!

"When I was 14 I thought my father was an idiot. When I was 21 I was amazed how much he had learned in the past 7 years" --Mark Twain.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf