The tertiary education system in Nigeria is facing numerous challenges among which are incessant strikes by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other unions, cases of sexual harassment, underfunding, and issues about quality teaching. These are basically what the society sees as problems in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in Nigeria. What people may not know is that students have serious issues with what some lecturers do in the classroom especially as it has to do with teaching and attitude to work. There are classroom-related conducts and actions by some lecturers which students find very disturbing and these kinds of lecturers seem to be growing in number in various tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The problem is that students cannot do much to keep such lecturers away from the lecturing profession even though that is their major wish. Here are 10 very disturbing things some lecturers do in the classroom which students are very unhappy about. Many students wish such lecturers never got into the academic profession in the first place. We actually have more than ten kinds of lecturers here so you decide which ones are most rampant in Nigerian tertiary institutions.
1. Reading from notebook without explanation
This is actually common in many schools. There are lecturers that just dictate notes to students. They hardly explain what they’re dictating. Students dislike this practice but often find it difficult to speak out. Nobody paid school fees to learn how to accurately copy notes while the lecturer reads a script without attempting any explanation. Such lecturers can’t help you so you better work on your own. Read the notes and probably discuss with your colleagues.
2. Students are afraid to ask them questions
Question time should actually be the most exciting aspect of lecturing. This is when you check whether students actually understood your lecture. You also gauge the intelligence of your students to know how best to prepare for the next lecture. But there are lecturers you dare not ask questions. Even when they say “any questions” students will just keep quiet out of fear. The students sometimes claim they understood everything very well just to avoid trouble. This is often because they’ve seen how students who asked questions in the past were treated by the lecturer. It is also possible the lecturer enters the class and starts shouting at students, creating tension and making students afraid and uncomfortable throughout the lecture period. Such lecturers have the image of a terror so students are often afraid of being victimized for asking questions.
3. Hardly showing up in class
There are lecturers that come to class just twice or thrice in an entire semester. These are absentee lecturers and students dislike this practice a lot. You won’t believe that some lecturers show up during the week of examination revision just to give students crash programme on the kind of questions they should expect. They call it marathon lectures. So what do you learn after a marathon programme? You learn how to get fatigued unnecessarily. That’s all. Absentee lecturers cannot be of help to you in building your career. Just find a way to study on your own or with your friends, as it has to do with courses taught by such lecturers.
4. Telling ‘Super story’ in class
There are lecturers that spend about 80 percent of their lecture period telling students stories unrelated to the course they are teaching. Of course, there are times a lecturer uses related or even unrelated instances to create a lighter-mood atmosphere in class, or give supportive examples to a topic in class. But the lecturers known for super stories actually do this repeatedly. Once they come to class and introduce the topic the next thing is to via off and start telling ‘Nollywood’ stories. This creates the impression that the lecturer either did not prepare for the lecture or is simply out of touch with content of the course they are supposed to teach.
5. No preparation before lecture
Students know when a lecturer who did not prepare for a lecture walks into the classroom and starts teaching. They do. Some lecturers wait for their lecture time, then grab a notebook or textbook and walk into the class without preparing earlier for that lecture. The lecturer sometimes speaks and is lost in the middle of the lecture due to lack of preparation. Students notice this and keep quiet out of fear. Some lecturers feel that because they’ve taught a particular course for years they shouldn’t prepare for lectures at all. When they get into the class and smart students make reference to the latest development in that course, the lecturer could feel embarrassed and in some cases, decide to victimize the students. Preparing well for a lecture positively affects delivery in class and students love this.
6. Using same note every year
This seems to be rampant in the academic community except in schools where there is a strict policy on submission and approval of lecture materials before each semester. Some lecturers have used one notebook to teach since they got employed in a particular institution; same content, same examples and same paragraphs. In fact, students even collect notes from their senior colleagues and copy before the lecturers appears in class. While dictating the note students might even be the ones correcting the lecturer. They even correct the lecturer if a line or word is missed while dictating the note in class. What an embarrassment. This sounds hilarious but it shouldn’t be a joke at all. In today’s world where technology has impacted virtually every aspect of life with events evolving by the second, there is no way what was taught last year would be the same with what is happening this year. The topics and themes could be largely the same but the approach, examples and possibly applications may have evolved with time. This should be reflected in the lecture note and that is why some schools in Nigeria insist lecturers update their notes every semester and submit for approval before classroom contact with students.
7. Inability to define their discipline
This shouldn’t come as a rude shock to you especially because of the failed employment system in Nigeria’s academic sector. There are some lecturers that if you ask them to define the discipline they are employed to teach, it could take hours, even days to provide a straight-forward, simple definition on that. They either laugh it off or battle to give you a clear answer. They might just realize at that moment that they don’t even have a clear definition of what they teach. A lecturer should be able to provide a basic, simple definition of their discipline, whether it is mass communication, microbiology, economics, computer engineering, or any other course, there’s always a simple way to define that course. Sounds unnecessary but it means a lot. Such lecturers seem to have landed in the wrong terrain.
8. They are not ICT compliant
It might shock you that there are some lecturers that do not even know how to use a laptop. In today’s digital world any modern lecturer should have basic knowledge of how to navigate the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) world especially as it relates to their profession. If you can’t do this as a lecturer you’re really in the wrong environment. Today’s lecturers should not only have online presence but know how to use technologies such as projector, ability to create slides for power point lectures, understand how to do online lectures, and such other facilities that will help improve lecture delivery and subject research. This impresses students a lot and helps them digest what is taught. Some lecturers have office assistants that handle secretarial work for them but that those not justify ICT non-compliance in a digital age.
9. Late release of results after exams
There are lecturers that actually seem like they are ‘waiting for rapture’ before they release their results after students have sat for the exam. Sometimes it takes threats from school authorities to force them to release their results. Students dislike this attitude a lot and it affects their perception of such lecturers.
10. Always late for their lectures
Some lecturers come to class almost one hour into their lecture period. Some show up even few minutes to the end of the lecture and overshoot their lecture period once they commence teaching. Students dislike this attitude a lot but they may not do anything about this. In most cases students have to wait for the lecturer till the end of the lecture because the person might arrive very late and give unannounced quiz in anger, that is, if most students have left the class. In rare cases, some lecturers even come after their lecture period. Students wait reluctantly for them due to fear of victimization. This is one of the features which put students off about a lecturer.
11. Hardly stay in class
There are some lecturers in Nigerian tertiary institutions who spend just a small fraction of their lecture period in class. Whether they come early or late for the lecture, they don’t spend up to 45 minutes for a lecture supposed to be for two hours. This is another disturbing conduct students detest completely, especially serious students who remember they paid school fees to have the lecturer give them the best in class.
12. Boring teaching technique
You might say lecturing is serious business but there are lecturers whose lectures look like bedtime stories to students. People sleep off while they teach. Students detest such situations a lot. There are some others who use lively techniques to keep students alert throughout the lecture period. Some others when they teach you are either falling asleep after a few minutes or you’re just gazing at them blankly without actually making sense out of what they’re saying. Sometimes when such lecturers finish their lecture and leave the classroom you wonder whether it was the course you came for that they actually taught. You somehow feel that what they said lacks bearing with what you’ve probably read about the course. Lecturing is a serious skill which should be learnt before contact with students.
13. Those who hardly attend academic conferences
While it is good to always be present teaching students, self-development through academic conferences is also very helpful, especially to students. When lecturers attend academic conferences they learn new things in their discipline which improves them and rubs off on the students. A lecturer that hardly attends academic conferences cannot help you as a student. The lecturer is not interested in self-development so what advice will you get from such person especially as it has to do with career prospects? Conferences open your eyes to new ways of doing things, including widening your knowledge base and quest to pursue an upwardly mobile career dream. Running away from academic conferences for whatever reasons is a sign you are not serious with your profession.
14. Those who rarely inspire anyone
You might say this is not part of the job description of a lecturer but someone who teaches people should inspire them in various ways. Students should be inspired by their lecturers’ dedication to duty, mastery of the discipline, doggedness about career development, encouraging teaching techniques, among other virtues likely to make someone aspire to be like their mentor. Teachers also mentor students to some extent. If you’re a lecturer and you do not inspire any student all then there is a problem. Even if no student approaches you to mentor them, the way you carry yourself as a teacher should inspire some students to desire a career in the discipline you’re teaching them. Unfortunately, some students even dislike a particular aspect of their profession because of the lecturer that handled courses related to that area.
What we presented here are features related to classroom and academic contact with students. We did not lay emphasis on out-of-class activities and relationships which could also lead to negative perception of a lecturer. Such other behaviour as acceptance of financial gratifications before grading students (called sorting), sexual harassment, and personality disorder, are among out-of-class influences on negative perception of lecturers by students. The characteristics presented in this article largely show that a lecturer who is perceived to be like this cannot help you as a student.
The solution to most of these challenges is to stay away from your expectations of getting the best from such lecturers. Study on your own, read ahead of the lecturer, and engage in group discussions with your classmates on courses taught by such lecturers. In most cases, confronting the lecturers or even reporting to authorities might not be of help because unfortunately, the way the system is presently structured, such lecturers need further pressure before they can change for the better. As a student you have your destiny to preserve, build and protect. Find a way around these challenges and make things work for you while in any school where you encounter such lecturers.
If you have other points to add to these one let us know in the comment section.