Let’s get on with some freak show.

So far only 12 students have replied me. This is unlikely to be an accurate sample because only the most aggrieved are likely to voice out. But all who replied are distressed with the nonchalant irresponsibility, except one philosophy major who pointed out the moderation of marks was highly probable.

Below is a summary of our concerns:

1. Tutors are taught the logic of Mark D’Cruz and are ill equipped to teach the logic of Blumson. In my department, lecturers meet regularly and plan lessons for tutors to ensure that all students receive the same quality education. In my department, tutors sign a contract with the department to teach us, instead of walking in looking cool with floppy hair and knowing nothing about the new syllabus as can be seen in the philosophy department.


2. Please teach us the things that you will be testing us. This is a common procedure in all the departments whose modules I have taken in FASS. Giving us questions whose model we’ve never seen before causes unnecessary stress, especially considering that only one or two students can answer them. Teaching us the model would allow us to apply it to new questions.

3. Please reflect the right module description on your website: http://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/philo/PH2110.html If possible, put the right description on CORS and the FASS module description website as well. If you are teaching fallacies and applications in everyday reasoning, the current description is fine. If you’re teaching trees, natural deduction etc, then the current description is misrepresentative.

4. Before setting undergrads a test, consider if you yourself can do it in the set time. If, as demonstrated in our class, you take 20 minutes for one natural deduction question, consider how long undergrads will need for four questions.

5. Plan and rehearse your lectures well. In my department, the professor is able to quote the exact slide number to refer to in explaining a previously taught concept. One student complained that midway through giving an example, Blumson would realise that it was wrong, think about it and then rephrase it. This happens many times, which should not be the case if minimal preparation is carried out.

6. Remember the dates when tutors are away for National Service so that students will not sit like idiots in the tutorial room with no one to teach them.

7. Mistakes on the slides are left uncorrected. In my department, lecturers immediately correct the mistakes and send us the corrected version.

8. Please try to ensure that there are minimal mistakes in the test paper. If there are mistakes, please announce them orally so that all students will be aware of them. The starkest omission is in not orally announcing that the method of assigning values is not allowed. Those of us who only realised this deep into the exam would be left highly anxious in frantically constructing truth tables because we have spent our time trying to solve the unsolvable questions. Do consider this in marking our scripts.

9. If there is a textbook, someone in the department should help Blumson settle it if he is unfamiliar with the procedure. Similarly, if a webcast session during the holidays is planned, kindly ensure that the webcast personnel is there. Otherwise, inform all students to be physically there for the lecture.

10. Considering the fact that all of us took this module induced by the misrepresentation of the module description and all the aforementioned points, many of us are just worried of getting a “D” for this module when we have been getting “A”s and “B”s all along. Furthermore, employers are likely to ask about a poor logic grade. My complaint is unlikely to put Blumson in a charitable mood. Nevertheless, students are willing to give a good teacher’s evaluation should there be more responsibility in the second half of the semester. Of course, nobody owes us a good grade. But we are willing to work hard for it if you teach us how in the lectures and by training the tutors. I realise that asking for a systematic S/U grading for all students except philosophy majors might be asking for too much. If that is not possible, I ask that the department consider a systematic bell curve from grades A to C. This is only fair, considering that we were not taught well, were misrepresented to and had poor examination instructions during the mid term test.

The systematic bell curve from A to C is the most desirable solution for all the students in my sample. Meeting personally is not possible because I don’t have enough support from my fellow students: the non-FASS students can S/U this module and most of the FASS students are not going for good honours and hence don’t care enough. If 90 students agree to be on the list, only then will we have the guts to meet with the administration or reveal our names, which is currently unlikely. Of course I realise that we are just students and you need not care about all the aforementioned suggestions for improvement or the systematic bell curve. But this is what we hope to see to maintain our conception of FASS as a place where teachers are committed to their students and where students do their best for their teachers.

I’ve taken the liberty to cc this to Blumson because I believe that, unlike me, professor Paulin has a life and a family to spend quality time with. All fellow coursemates will also receive a copy of this in the bcc. Including Blumson into our conversation will speed progress.

That is all the students in my sample and I have to ask of the administration. Any decisions is up to your conscience and willingness to help us. Thank you for your time.

 

 

I recieve this email some days back by an angry unidentified student who went on barking like some mad dog with his/her complains.  They even forwarded the email to the Dean of arts, and all the student who are taking this course. What a disgrace they are to NUS! None of the reasons they gave were valid, none at all.

Therefore I replied them this:

Dear unidentified logic student,

Firstly, allow me to applaud you for your courage to voice out your unhappiness with such strong opinion. I’m a Chemistry student taking the Logic module this semester as well under GEM, and I would like to share with you my experience and feelings with regards to your concern about this module and the lecturer.

In your first E-mail you mentioned in point number 2 that the lecturer by giving questions that we never seen before will cause “unnecessary stress” to the students. It seems completely bizarre to me because isn’t this the job of us, as a student to figure out difficult questions during exams? I believe the relevant skills and knowledge have been taught to us by Dr Ben, and this kind of never seen before questions are known as “application questions” in which they need us to think out of the box to be able to answer that. The inability to do so only shows the lack in critical thinking skills and the lack in preparation work done by the student.

In point number 4, I have to agree with you that it is ridiculous if the lecturer himself needs 20 minutes to solve one natural deduction question. However, I have never encountered that before in my tutorial classes with Dr Ben, and neither have the rest of my friends. No one is perfect, not even the lecturers themselves. So is it necessary to judge that mere encounter so harshly?  This brings us to point number 5, where you mentioned that Dr Ben would get stuck during lectures and sometimes getting his facts or examples wrong. I do agree on that because I have seen that happening a couple of times during lectures But again as what I have share above, no one is yet so perfect that no mistakes are allowed to be made at any point of time, considering the fact that the mistake was minimal and corrected almost immediately.

Mistakes on the slides were being corrected during lecture itself. Any doubts or clarification required should be the job of the students to approach the lecturer himself. University education promotes independent learning, not spoon feeding anymore.

For point number 8, I do understand how you feel because I did not correct any of the mistakes in the exam paper at all as I was totally unaware of it. Corrections were only written on the whiteboard with fading markers, which was not visible at all from the back of the lecture theatre. Dr Ben also mentioned about not allowing the “MAV” method to be used in answering the questions on truth tables. But non of the students I spoke to have that problem because the lecturer have already raised up during his tutorial class that he would not want that method to be used during exams, because the main purpose of the questions is to see whether the students are able to prove arguments using truth tables. Again, assumptions made without clarification with the lecturers themselves can only have ourselves to blame.

It was a shame that the make-up lecture during the holidays were not recorded, and it partially the fault of Dr Ben for not ensuring so. I went for the make-up lecture, and there were less then 15 students present. I would be insulted if I’m the lecturer himself with such little turn-ups. However, even though our University and Dr Ben are nice enough to allow webcast recording for all lectures, I would still encourage you to promptly attend all lectures to avoid this problem. After all once again, that is the job of us as full time student.

Last but not least, the action of sending such angry complain emails to everyone but yet refusing to identify yourself is not advisable. If you think you got a point there, all of us as students will no doubt be rooting for you, so please do not be worried about getting your identity exposed. I guess you and the other 14 students are going to hate me for saying all these, but I will hate myself even more if I do not do so. So please don’t.

Regards,

Shi Hui

 

Let me know how do you feel about this!

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5 Comments

  1. This is a good discussion, Shi Hui, albeit a bit lengthy The anonymous student letter certainly makes for interesting reading. It might have helped though if you had provided a bit of an explanation/context for the letter at the start. (I initially thought you had written it.)
    Since I don’t know much about the context, I can’t judge so much what would be right or wrong, acceptable unacceptable. Some points seem worthy of complaint. As you mention in your follow up letter, some of the points seem exaggerated. I think the complaining student needed some advice before writing the letter. Was any given? I wonder.

    Thank you for sharing this with us!

  2. hello ash

    You are inclined to posting extremely LONG post these days aren’t you? I must say I was pretty impressed when I read your letter. You did a beautiful job in refuting every point the unidentified logic student “claimed”. If you do remember, I once told you that you can write the best when you are at the peak of “aggravated” anger. Of course, I wish to comment on that unidentified logic student’s tone in the letter. He/she is showing zero respect for Dr Blumson, from the sheer fact that he/she refers to Dr Blumson by his last name only. What a barbarian! He/She appears to be full of him/herself and this definitely irks me to the core.

    There is this saying: ‘the pen is mightier than the sword.’ However, that student should learn how to show the most fundemental form of respect for the lecturer, before people will take him seriously. A rude letter, no matter how much sense it makes, will not be appealing to anyone at all.

    your lovely sister

  3. Hi ash (can i call you that too?)!

    After reading this slightly long albeit interesting post, I felt that the unidentified student should have written it in a less exaggerated, and more objective manner, to express his displeasure about the lecturer and the module. The tone in this letter is very aggressive and exaggerated, and this leads the reader to question whether the matter has been blown up a few folds.

    NUS students are pretty scary nowadays huh.

  4. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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