Herff College Open Letter Support

Herff College Open Letter Support

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William Morris started this petition to Herff College of Engineering

The students of the University of Memphis have been under the restrictions of virtual learning for at least two full semesters. During this time, we have seen our learning experience change, however, it has not changed for the better. We are told that we as students must adapt to this ever-changing landscape both on and off campus, and we must work harder than ever before to achieve. However, is has become apparent to myself and many of my fellow students that there is a blatant hypocrisy to this idea, as many of our teachers have either chosen to adapt poorly or not adapt at all.

Such examples of this can only be properly expressed in the form of personal anecdote. For instance, most of our teachers believe that to properly instruct they shall merely read from their online notes and textbooks. If we should have questions regarding the subject, the answer is simple, cast off responsibility and consult the notes or textbook. Or perhaps its go and watch the videos that I have recorded in advance of this class, which only last for a handful of minutes, and whose subject is never consistent or sometimes even repeated. Since the first day of class this semester most teachers have seemingly phoned it in, allowing us to use anything we want on quizzes, tests, midterms, and finals. Only a few have restricted the use of the internet on our examinations. Furthermore, most teachers seemingly have never interacted with any of the online resources provided by the University. With several online examinations done over eCourseware, left in a confusing and sorry state because the instructor had the inexperience to understand its complex systems and interface. Many issues have been encountered over this semester, but we do not have the time to list all of the transgressions.

However, a particular instructor will be highlighted for the ever-increasing complaints leveled against him. Instructor Kazi Mirza hired a week into the prior fall semester has garnered a poor reputation among his students. This is due to his inability to effectively communicate the material to the students. Whether this be working out a problem to completion only to realize he had the equations wrong since the beginning. After which he would acknowledge the mistake but simply move on with the next problem, in which the cycle would repeat. Or that his handwritten notes be so confusing and poorly written we could not understand them. His English is another issue, since it is not his first language, he struggles in communicating, with most asking for him to repeat equations and problems several times. Examinations are another sorry point as in every quiz or test he would admit just before the end, after which some have already turned the assignment in, that in fact the problem was wrong all along and you must rework the problem. This is usually accompanied by several retakes by multiple students only for them to make the same grade. When he eventually attempts to go over the previous examinations, he refuses to explain because and I quote, “You already know this guys.” Many can imagine how confusing this is for students as they just did rather poorly on graded assignments but that is no problem because we already know the material. However, this is assuming his work was correct to begin with, since we do not get back our work and, on several occasions, students have pointed out their work was graded incorrectly.

This letter is not simply criticism however, I understand that it is hard to place yourselves in the place of a student. Therefore, from a student’s point of view I offer these solutions. We must return to in-person learning, or if not possible, we must meet via online call, just reading the notes, textbook, or watching the video does not substitute for an instructor doing their job. Moreover, it is paramount that teachers do not simply read off notes or refer to the textbook for answers. They must run through the content in their own words and work problems so that the students may grasp the material fully. Homework, although self-explanatory, should be a necessary for students, but it must concern the current chapter and not be extraordinarily difficult. If videos are recorded and must be watched they must be done with in a reasonable time in relation to the class, not the semester before. It is also a necessity that they have a reinforcement via online call. Their also must be ample grades for the students, not the bare minimum as several of our classes had on one grade by the midterm. A final radical idea for education is encouraging companies to come and run through the daily operations of their trade, in order for students to gain a better sense of future working environments.

This semester has been a difficult time for students and teachers alike, but with a little effort we can improve the Herff College for the better. We are not only paying for your help, but we are also the future and we deserve every chance to succeed together. So please heed the message presented and reach out to help us provide an improved college learning experience.

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