October 4, 2022

"About a decade ago... he noticed a loss of focus among the students, even as more of them enrolled in his class, hoping to pursue medical careers."

"'Students were misreading exam questions at an astonishing rate,' he wrote.... Grades fell even as he reduced the difficulty of his exams. The problem was exacerbated by the pandemic, he said. 'In the last two years, they fell off a cliff,' he wrote. 'We now see single digit scores and even zeros.' After several years of Covid learning loss, the students not only didn’t study, they didn’t seem to know how to study, Dr. Jones said. To ease pandemic stress, Dr. Jones and two other professors taped 52 organic chemistry lectures. Dr. Jones said that he personally paid more than $5,000 for the videos and that they are still used by the university.... By spring 2022, the university was returning with fewer Covid restrictions, but the anxiety continued and students seemed disengaged. 'They weren’t coming to class, that’s for sure, because I can count the house,' Dr. Jones said in an interview. 'They weren’t watching the videos, and they weren’t able to answer the questions.'... James W. Canary, chairman of the department until about a year ago, said he admired Dr. Jones’s course content and pedagogy, but felt that his communication with students was skeletal and sometimes perceived as harsh. 'He hasn’t changed his style or methods in a good many years,' Dr. Canary said. 'The students have changed, though, and they were asking for and expecting more support from the faculty when they’re struggling.'"

From "At N.Y.U., Students Were Failing Organic Chemistry. Who Was to Blame? Maitland Jones Jr., a respected professor, defended his standards. But students started a petition, and the university dismissed him" (NYT).

126 comments:

Geoff Matthews said...

This will not end well.

Dave Begley said...

I blame social media and the insanely stupid covid lockdowns.

Last night I was on Creighton's campus. A big class had just let out and the students were walking back to their dorms. They all were wearing giant backpacks full of heavy books.

No problem with class attendance at Creighton Unversity.

Dave Begley said...

To be clear, a good 50% of Creighton undergrads are in the health sciences with many pre-meds and pre-dent students.

Achilles said...

"'The students have changed, though, and they were asking for and expecting more support from the faculty when they’re struggling.'"

COVID 19 is just an excuse.

Our public education system is broken. Teachers have turned into shithead revolutionaries that don't teach students anything in public schools.

The Branch Covidians did massive damage to our society and all of you assholes need to apologize for your stupid shit.

But the Teachers Union and other leftists have taken this opportunity to massively damage the futures of a generation.

They are doing this on purpose. They are evil people.

They will pay for this.

Michael K said...

Organic chemistry was always hard. Present day students are failing because they don't study and expect to get away with it. They would do better in "gender studies" and there is always a need for HR people.

chickelit said...

O-chem has always been the gatekeeper class to weed out MD candidates. Eliminating it will allow med schools to appoint anyone doctor, which is what outcomes-oriented diversity goals are demanding these days. Good luck with that one in the long run.

Carol said...

A decade ago...colleges start seeing the products of NCLB, which had the net effect of just passing everyone along or else the schools lose money.

These are probably the ones who actually did some work and were rewarded with A's.

Still, they had to get by the SAT so I don't know. But I predict O chem will be dropped from premed.



Paddy O said...

Professor who is not a physician is the gatekeeper for who can be a good physician?
I'd love to hear what physicians think.

Professor who probably wasn't very liked (but was properly rigorous) for decades in one modality (classroom) doesn't teach well in another modality or era.

Professor who paid $5000 out of his own pocket to record videos for students to watch, thinks that online teaching is just putting classroom teaching online. Good at organic chemistry, but completely unwilling or unable to learn from students and certainly institutional online learning experts to adapt.

Who pays $5000 to record videos for online education except a dinosaur professor from the 80s who probably responded to some bloated facebook ad meant to target clueless and arrogant one time experts who don't realize the goal of teaching is actually teaching. And the marker of teaching is students passing, failing students is not a marker of high standards but a low marker on teaching ability or just pure laziness.

The professor is in fact what he claims his students to be. Unwilling to learn and shifting blame, then wondering why he didn't pass the basic requirements of his employment.


Professors also aren't always good teachers, and maybe there is a young, good teacher out there muscled out from teaching because old guy with status

Joe Smith said...

No worries...all of these idiot kids will be doctors soon.

Coming to an operating room near you.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

James W. Canary, chairman of the department until about a year ago, said he admired Dr. Jones’s course content and pedagogy, but felt that his communication with students was skeletal and sometimes perceived as harsh. 'He hasn’t changed his style or methods in a good many years,' Dr. Canary said. 'The students have changed, though, and they were asking for and expecting more support from the faculty when they’re struggling.'"

No, what they want is a participation trophy, even when they dont' actually participate.

How many of those 80 students showed up to class every day, and attended the Professor's office hour every week with their questions?

How many attended their TA sessions, and TA office hours? How many did all the homework, and went to their TA to figure out all the questions they got wrong?

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and bet the answer is "zero".

This is a failure by the Administration, and one of many arguments for why we should completely end gov't support for "higher education" in the US.

It's not education, it's day care for big kids, and indoctrination. And I'll be damned if I can see any reason why my $$$ should go to support it

Rabel said...

Maybe the distinguished 82 year old professor has evolved into a cranky, unreasonable old bastard who hates everybody and everything and his back hurts and his prostate is the size of a big red candied apple and he has to pee all the time and he was failing a large portion of his class just to be an ass because they're young and he's not.

Blaming the students at highly selective NYU would fit that explanation.

If I'm right, he may be a commenter here.

Several possibilities come to mind.

Mike Sylwester said...

When I began attending the University of Oregon in 1970, I had two majors -- 1) Slavic Languages and 2) pre-med. I intended to become a doctor and to work in Africa. (An uncle of mine had worked as a doctor in Kenya.)

In my sophomore year, I was half-way through organic chemistry. I liked studying the subject (which is very difficult), but I hated doing laboratory assignments. One day near the end of a term, I was in the laboratory doing a make-over of an experiment that I had done poorly. While doing this make-over, my experiment's apparatus got knocked over by accident. I would have to begin the entire experiment again.

At that moment, I decided to quit pre-med. I figured that there were lots of students hoping to become doctors. The world did not need me to be a doctor. I did not want to work in a job where I saw pain, suffering and death every day.

I went to the university book store and sold all my pre-med textbooks and bought a lot of language books. That was one of the happiest days of my life.

I don't remember what grade I got for that organic-chemistry class, but it was not an A.

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

If there's an all-knowing AI coming, why bother?

Cut to the 1960 Time Machine "dance, sing, eat and play" scene.

James K said...

As a professor myself I get some of these same comments regularly from students:

"My grade does not reflect all the effort I put in." Correct, the grade reflects the knowledge you absorbed (or didn't) from the class. No A for effort.

"No extra credit." That's right. The syllabus lays out the requirements and grading criteria. No do-overs or changing the rules after the results are in.

But I've never had any grief over this. NYU just caved to a minority of students who expected good grades handed to them on a platter.

n.n said...

Carbon? Hard or toxic? Reduce, reuse, recycle… perchance abort... uh, cancel, cannibalize, sequester.

Temujin said...

Sounds like a setup for a new novel about the devolution of Western Civilization.

I'm sure if the classes are too hard, they will be eliminated. Equity, you know.

I wonder what will happen in about 20 years when the power goes out and no one is left who knows how to actually tend to it?

Wince said...

Didn't law schools do this years ago with learning and being tested on the Rule Against Perpetuities?

mikee said...

Know what the dumbest kid in all the US med schools is called on graduation day? DOCTOR.

mikee said...

Know what the dumbest kid in all the US med schools is called on graduation day? DOCTOR.

And may the phrase "Krebs Cycle" be a way to terrorize undergrad premeds afraid of O-Chem.

TreeJoe said...

There's an interesting phenomenom here - why are students paying enormous sums of money and completely and utterly failing to engage and learn material that is taught, published, and readily available to them through a variety of resources.

Answer: Because they don't care enough.

How can you not care enough when you are paying that much money?

Answer: Because they view it as not their money.

........

If you can't support the class because of the professor, drop the class and petition. But colossal failure indicates a bigger underlying issue.

Mike Sylwester said...

Having taken an organic-chemistry class at a university, I think most doctors do not really need to have mastered that subject. Medical researchers should master it.

I took calculus in high school, and I enjoyed it. However, I never have used any of it my life. The same goes for trigonometry.

I do use algebra all the time in my work.

Universities used to require all their students to study Latin. It's worthwhile to study Latin, but it eventually became a foolish requirement.

Perhaps organic chemistry is just as foolish a requirement for pre-med.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Paddy O said...
Professor who is not a physician is the gatekeeper for who can be a good physician?
I'd love to hear what physicians think.


Chemistry and Organic Chemistry are traditional weeders for "pre-Med", because if you can't do those, you can't be a doctor, because you can not understand the medical problems

Calculus is another weeder, because if you can't do math, you can not understand the science.

Get over it, loser

Professor who probably wasn't very liked (but was properly rigorous) for decades in one modality (classroom) doesn't teach well in another modality or era.

Bzzt. "Whiny babies are upset that teacher expects them to learn."
That's not a failure on the teacher's part

Professor who paid $5000 out of his own pocket to record videos for students to watch, thinks that online teaching is just putting classroom teaching online. Good at organic chemistry, but completely unwilling or unable to learn from students and certainly institutional online learning experts to adapt.

1: What are the tools and resources NYU has supplied to NYU professors to do online teaching? They haven't supplied any?
Then any fault lies with the administration
2: Students who whine that their "grade doesn't reflect the time they put into the class"? They only thing they can teach is that they are worthless and have nothing to offer.
How many of them attended class every day, and paid attention? How many "spent the time" while browsing Twitter and f'ing around on their phones?

Who pays $5000 to record videos for online education except a dinosaur professor from the 80s who probably responded to some bloated facebook ad meant to target clueless and arrogant one time experts who don't realize the goal of teaching is actually teaching.

And the point of grading is to assess how much you learned, not how much time you claim you spent on it.
Until the students understand that, there's nothing the teacher can do

And the marker of teaching is students passing, failing students is not a marker of high standards but a low marker on teaching ability or just pure laziness.
Pure laziness by the students.

I was involved in teaching and grading at the college level two decades ago. I regularly saw students given assignments they had over a week to complete, where they completely failed because they didn't actually do the assignment.
And where essentially none of them made any effort to connect to any of the instructors to confirm that they were actually doing the correct work.

So no, dont' try to blame this on the professor, because that dog won't hunt.

Unless the complaining student attended every lecture, read the text, did the exercises, and went to office hours to find out why (s)he got the exercises wrong, then it's on the student, not on the teacher.

And I would cheerfully bet $100 that not ONE of the complaining students did that.

But I would bet $1,000 that anyone who did that, and was still failing, was simply too stupid or uneducated to pass the class.
Which, again, is not the professor's fault

The professor is in fact what he claims his students to be. Unwilling to learn and shifting blame, then wondering why he didn't pass the basic requirements of his employment.

Paddy O is a pathetic loser who demands that the world be given to him on a silver platter

gspencer said...

“The plain truth is that not everyone who wants to be a doctor will be able to become a doctor.”

“The plain truth is that not everyone who wants to be a SEAL will be able to become a SEAL.”

The dropout rate at BUDS is high, varying between 50%-80% of each class. But in the end the Navy winds up with very competent SEALS.

Why should organic chemistry or EE be any different?

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Rabel said...
Blaming the students at highly selective NYU would fit that explanation.

Oh? There are no "legacies" there? no "affirmative action" students"?
Everyone there got in solely on academic merit?

Pull the other one, it plays Jingle Bells

If I'm right, he may be a commenter here.

Several possibilities come to mind.


Well, we've clearly got several commenters here who are pathetic over-entitled whiners, just like the NYU students

gilbar said...

so, let me get this straight?
the students not only didn’t study, they didn’t seem to know how to study,
'They weren’t coming to class, that’s for sure,
They weren’t watching the videos, and they weren’t able to answer the questions.'

Back in the early '80's, gilbar tried ALL these things; when HE took organic chemistry.
He FAILED, but they said it was His fault, because..
he not only didn’t study, he didn’t seem to know how to study,
he weren’t coming to class, that’s for sure,
he weren’t watching the videos, and he weren’t able to answer the questions.
I didn't realize how much organic chem has changed

Can you Imagine, complaining that organic chem was TOO Hard??

gspencer said...
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Birches said...
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Birches said...
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Birches said...

This is insane. If you can't do O-Chem, you're not cut out for medical school. Are we accepting mediocrity now?

How many of these kids never took an SAT but were accepted anyway?

Birches said...

I could not disagree with you more Paddy O.

JK Brown said...

Well, the school is in an awkward place. After all, they are the ones who broke the treadmill and are desperate now to get students back on into the debt train.

But also, organic chem is where both types of students, body of knowledge and analytical, hit the rocks.

"Organic chemistry sits at the intersection of these two ways of thinking. It requires an exceptional amount of memorization and some pretty advanced problem solving. Thus, people are forced out of their comfort zones by the subject area. People who are used to memorizing fail at applying the things they try and memorize. People who prefer to build things up from first principles are screwed because organic chemistry is not based on first principles. It's based on loose guidelines to reactivity, and there are usually as many exceptions to rules as there are cases that fall within rules."
https://www.businessinsider.com/why-organic-chemistry-is-so-hard-2014-1

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

So glad I don't teach anymore. God bless these souls who attempt to do so now. And damn the ones who instead fill them with BLM, CRT and body-dysmorphia resentments.

marybeth said...

I want to see at least one of the videos before I give an opinion.

I had professors who were good teachers and ones who were not. I can't imagine starting or signing a petition to get rid of the ones who weren't. Maybe if they didn't show up for scheduled classes or something like that, but not just because I didn't think they were charismatic enough in their teaching style.

I think I have a very different idea of what someone would have to do to be deserving of losing their job than young people now have. Everyone has turned into a mean girl.

JAORE said...

That'll learn them....

Unknown said...

Hahahahaha.

People really believe these "universities" are there for learning? Harvard, with a $40 BILLION endowment? Is there for "learning?" Yale? Federal judges are now boycotting those "woke" students entirely.

No. These are not institutions of higher learning.

The students are the rubes to be fleeced. The professors are mere cogs in that machine. If the students aren't happy with the product, they won't purchase it. And the University will replace the broken cogs who cannot keep up with current events.

The University doesn't care if the students learn. It only cares if they purchase.

To believe otherwise is to reject all evidence and knowledge thus far presented and to live in an imaginary 18th century idyllic. Insanity is what that is.

Unknown said...

Hahahahaha.

People really believe these "universities" are there for learning? Harvard, with a $40 BILLION endowment? Is there for "learning?" Yale? Federal judges are now boycotting those "woke" students entirely.

No. These are not institutions of higher learning.

The students are the rubes to be fleeced. The professors are mere cogs in that machine. If the students aren't happy with the product, they won't purchase it. And the University will replace the broken cogs who cannot keep up with current events.

The University doesn't care if the students learn. It only cares if they purchase.

To believe otherwise is to reject all evidence and knowledge thus far presented and to live in an imaginary 18th century idyllic. Insanity is what that is.

JAORE said...

O chem requires a LOT of memorization skills. Other things as well, but memorization is a huge factor.

I want my Doctor to have a pretty good memory of drug interactions, various treatment plans and a bunch of other topics.

Maynard said...

I took calculus in high school, and I enjoyed it. However, I never have used any of it my life. The same goes for trigonometry.

The intellectual rigor required to pass Trig and Calculus have been useful to you in many ways. The same can be said about Organic Chemistry for MDs.

Michael said...

This piece was the catalyst last night for a long conversation with a professor at a major state university. He said there are many nights when he looks back upon the events of the day and asks, "What is happening to our young people?"

Also had a text exchange with a different prof at a different major state university. "I had three students cry in my office today. Students are emotionally struggling way more this semester"

Something has gone badly wrong with our kids' mental health.

Howard said...

He said it started 10-years ago. *They* say social media addiction causes ADHD symptoms. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you go to teach the students you have, not the students you wish you had.

Josephbleau said...

My Mother went to a two year RN school in the 40's and she had to take an organic chemistry class. She still had the book and it was similar in content to the one I had, perhaps more memorization and fewer problems. I don't understand what these students are looking for, do they think that school suddenly gets easy once that go thru their sophomore year?

The business crowd talks about this stuff, and the comments are that people keep a mental list of these schools and put their resumes on the side. You don't want to graduate from a school with whiny kids, hiring people like that is worse than not having anyone, you waste money training them and then have to figure out how to let them go.

Big Mike said...

Who is to blame? High school and high school teachers. Especially the ones who teach science and math and do not impress upon their class that getting the right answer is the only thing that counts.

But the problem is an old one. Back in the 1960s I encountered fellow undergraduates who could not grasp that his hard you worked on a problem was unimportant next to whether they got the right answer. It just is apparently more pervasive now, at least at NYU.

Note to Dave Begley, the weight of a student’s backpack seems to me to also be orthogonal to whether or not he or she grasps the material well enough to get the correct answer to an exam problem.

jaydub said...

As a part of my chemical engineering curriculum I took organic chemistry classes (which were five hour classes with a 3 hour lab) my prof gave a reading assignment every day followed by a 10 minute test on that assignment at the start of the next class. Those tests counted for 50% of one's grade and no one could afford to sluff them off. If it hadn't been for those tests I doubt I would have had the discipline to master the subject to the extent I did. I believe my prof was cut from the same cloth as Dr Jones, and I still thank him for it.

I also benefited from the fact that at the time I was at the university the Periodic Table only had four elements: air, water, fire and dirt, so chemistry was a lot simpler.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Mike Sylwester said...
Having taken an organic-chemistry class at a university, I think most doctors do not really need to have mastered that subject.

Should doctors be able to understand the method of action of the medicines they prescribe? Should they be able to understand how drugs interact, possibly destructively?
Should they be able to read scientific papers on the medicines they may or may not prescribe, be able to understand the papers, and be able to figure out which ones are garbage?

Yes?

Then they damn well better be able to pass organic chemistry, because you can't understand biochem if you can't do ochem

I took calculus in high school, and I enjoyed it. However, I never have used any of it my life. The same goes for trigonometry.

I guess there's no physics in your life. Because you can't understand physics without understanding calculus

Pete said...

I was happy to see that my son's engineering school - Boston University - had not degenerated into grade inflation, and he had to show results to earn his grades.

By the way, I was a mechanical engineering/metallurgy grad from the 1970's. I had heard all about how hard organic chemistry was from my chemical engineering friends. Then when I went into patent law I took organic chemistry to fill out my technical background. I can testify that it was nowhere near as hard as thermodynamics.

Professors - don't succumb to grade inflation in these critical areas of study!

Jupiter said...

Organic was easily the hardest class I ever took, because of the insane amount of rote memorization required. The prof would come in and draw complicated, multi-colored diagrams on the overhead for an hour, and you were expected to be able to reproduce any of them on an exam. I don't recall much "problem solving". Organic is not logical, it's lore. The logic of chemistry is called "quantum mechanics". Now that requires problem solving.

But they are moving towards dumbing down medical training, to where blacks can do it. That's going to take a lot of dumbing down. Fortunately, the modern practice of medicine is more and more becoming mostly just pharmaceutical sales. That and cutting off tits. Any idiot can do it.

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

What we need is a petition to dismiss cancer.

Enough of this "stand up to cancer" BS.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't want a doctor who can't pass organic chemistry.

Freeman Hunt said...

Did the students not have textbooks?

Lurker21 said...

Sometimes the story is the diagnosis, if you know how to look for it. Wasn't that one of last week's lessons?

My advice to the students is to accept that the professor may be a jerk and the videos may be worthless, but you have to double down. Form study groups. Review constantly. Make those wooden models of molecules they have you buy and show them to each other when you meet instead of saying "Hello. How are you?" Make Organic your life. I wouldn't want to live that way, but you will have to.

Achilles said...

I remember taking O-Chem while doing Running Start my senior year in High School.

I was bad at writing in that little blue book thingy. I spent a lot of time in the lab alone too. My lab partners all quit the class.

It was a lot of work.

It was interesting how all of the equations just balanced.

It is something that doesn't make sense. It leads me to believe in a Creator.

Robert Cook said...

"Teachers have turned into shithead revolutionaries that don't teach students anything in public schools."

Evidence, please?

Achilles said...

JK Brown said...

Well, the school is in an awkward place. After all, they are the ones who broke the treadmill and are desperate now to get students back on into the debt train.

This statement encapsulates the movement behind eliminating standards in education.

Randomizer said...

"the students not only didn’t study, they didn’t seem to know how to study, "

It's worst than that Dr. Jones. The students don't feel that they should have to study. With the availability of answers on social media, Google and Wikipedia, students don't feel that they should need to know organic chemistry to pass the class.

And, the students are correct. Dr. Jones was dismissed.

Paddy O said...

"Paddy O is a pathetic loser who demands that the world be given to him on a silver platter"

Ha! That all just ruined your whole comments. I teach at graduate school at a globally recognized institution, been teaching online for over a decade, with some of the best results in the school. Some students are indeed lazy. Some professors, especially those who taught 20+ years ago are just bad.

I worked my ass off in getting fully funded graduate degrees and have been honored by those at the very height of my field as both a teacher and a scholar.

But, whiny people who can't and won't change are the same no matter their status.

The job of a teacher to teach. Do it or get out of the way and let in someone who can. And stop expecting students to fund your privileged lifestyle based on lectures you put together 40 years ago.

Paddy O said...

If you can't do O-Chem, there may be an issue of intelligence or work ethic. Or it could be learning style or bad teaching or a number of reasons. The first two should be weeded out, anything else is an issue of context and adaptability. Good teaching adapts to the particular learner. Bad teachers just like bad students blame others for their failings.

effinayright said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paddy O said...

"because that dog won't hunt."

Bad professors should be blamed and there are a lot of good scholars who are bad teachers. It's very anti-intellectual to avoid attending to the problem as it is rather than trying to somehow circle around privileged status.

If that dog won't hunt, time to send that dog to the pasture, and get a better dog. Because the hunting is easy and there's meat to be had.

Gilbert Pinfold said...

I took Orgo at 8:40 a.m. from Maitland Jones in 1975 before he retired from Princeton. A genius at teaching a difficult subject (my parents were organic chemists), Mait was an inspiration to a generation of scientists like myself. Orgo grades are a good indicator of being able to master large amounts of information and apply it in a systematic and relational manner, and that's why it is used as a benchmark in med school admissions. While getting my PhD I taught med students in first-year Cell Biology--overall, they were good at doing just what was required to pass (grading was pass-fail), but not willing to learn beyond the test. I guess things have gone downhill since.

Jim Gust said...

Organic chemistry is hard, but so is physics. My organic chemistry professor was one of those "big personalty" types, and the whole class really became engaged, and did really well. We did our own flash card type exercises while walking to and from MIT. I did great in organic chemistry, but failed electricity and magnetism and had to take it again. I still don't understand Maxwell's equations.

Sebastian said...

"Dr. Jones, 84, is known for changing the way the subject is taught. In addition to writing the 1,300-page textbook “Organic Chemistry,” now in its fifth edition, he pioneered a new method of instruction that relied less on rote memorization and more on problem solving."

I don't know the field but I do know young people who studied chem this way. Unless he faded in old age, this doesn't look like the profile of a guy who didn't care about teaching well.

Lots of variables in play in this case. But at private institutions customer satisfaction matters, with all the dangers of dumbing down and grade inflation. And soon, equity will require large-scale changes in grading and professional prerequisites.

Mason G said...

Idiocracy... Dr. Lexus.

Coming soon to a hospital/clinic near you.

Quaestor said...

In my university CH101 was known as the freshman eliminator. The 200-level introductory organic was the sophomore slaughterhouse. If you couldn't stand the heat the only advice you'd get from your faculty advisor would be to get out of the kitchen.

Part of the problem is organic chemistry requires geometric reasoning, a faculty the male brain excels at revelative to the female brain, which is why baby girls start talking while baby boys are silent stackers of blocks. I'll wager the overwhelming majority of those petitioners were women who were encourged to enter a STEM curriculum in spite of exhibiting no particular academic aptitude for it.

Petitioning against an instructor who refuses to simplify an inherently complex science is project fit only for hopeless simpletons. Firing that instructor is simply evil and fundmentally anti-science.

(Howard never misses a chance to boast of his superior respect for science. Take note of his comment when it shows up.)

Quaestor said...

Joe Smith writes, "No worries...all of these idiot kids will be doctors soon."

Rattles and ceremonial masks will be a booming investment opportunity.

Drago said...

Its as though NYU was overrun with Howards.

Paddy O said...

To take this from typical commenter 'You're wrong!" "You're stupid and wrong!" to something more actually academic, which I assume NYU actually did but the professor didn't like...

What is the comparative fail rates for different faculty teaching this course? Students tend to take courses across different faculty and classes taught with a similar level of competence will match pass/fail rates and student complaints (some faculty are more likable so may have higher evals for just that reason).

If students are failing in and complaining more about this professor, then it's actually the job of the administration to find out why and assume this professor is not just getting the worst batch of students in the pool.

The comparison with Navy SEALS is apt, but Med School really is the BUD/S, or rather the post med school specialities. We also need a lot more doctors in this world than we do SEALS.

And the more technology, the less demand for skill sets like memorization than just 20 years ago. Not saying it's bad, but just that there's just different ways to assume competency and learning approaches which may be more suitable for doctors going forward than in the past. And definitely current generations learn differently than they did 20 years ago, which is why we use terms like digital native or such to indicate how learning and involvement has changed.

My suspicion is that there's a wide mix of faults at work and trying to wholesale blame one side or the other is missing the complexity of all the issues involved. I also strongly suspect that NYU isn't doing this in contrast to wanting competency, but that there's a need for a lot of these students to abandon hopes for pre-med and a need for an aged professor to also abandon padding his retirement income and let someone do the job who is better suited to current realities.

Michael K said...

Blogger Paddy O said...

Professor who is not a physician is the gatekeeper for who can be a good physician?
I'd love to hear what physicians think.


OK. All the classes in the first two years of medical school are taught by non-physicians. Medicine is getting far more into the basics than when I went to Medical School. When I began teaching the area I was in was pure clinical but I decided I had better get up to date on basic science. I ordered a Genetics text, Gene VII, the latest edition. I read a couple of chapters and realized I needed to study molecular biology first, so I bought "The Cell, by Alberts. That was an earlier edition but it took me a year to get through its 1500 pages. Then I decided to go back to the Genetics book but it was now in the 12th edition !

That's why you need Organic Chemistry but that is not enough for present day Medicine.

Two-eyed Jack said...

I don't think the problem is necessarily intellectually deficient students, but students who were always rewarded with A's up until this class for "being smart" and "working hard," going back to high school and middle school. You need to work hard to educate yourself in a couple of years to the point where you can work at a professional level. The threat of low grades was at one time a motivating factor, but grade inflation wiped out that motivation many years ago.

Anyone who has taught at the university level knows that some percentage of the students are just drifting through, and that this percentage is surprisingly high, even at "competitive" schools. Students are customers, however, and now instructors insisting on real sustained effort appear to be like polar bears on ice flows in a Greenpeace ad.

effinayright said...

Perhaps organic chemistry is just as foolish a requirement for pre-med.
****************

"Foolish", my ass.

How the fuck can a doctor understand biochemistry without passing organic chemistry????

Real American said...

the university can do everything in its power to educate you, but if you don't show up to class, don't read the assignments, and don't study, you're going to fail, and if isn't the school's fault.

ALP said...

I have nothing profound to say here, but I do think this is a great opportunity to relay one of the funniest lines in "Louie" (Louis CK's short lived series). Louis is taking one of his daughters out for lunch or something - one of his daughter's classmates ends up joining them. As the mom hands her son over to Louis she says: "He can't eat anything with carbon in it."

Try it. Try saying "I can't eat anything with carbon in it". Hilarious!!!

Richard said...

The students of today are much less able to do the work than my students from thirty years ago. However, they are much better at coming up with excuses for why they were not able to do the assignmwnr on time.

Students will tell me they didn’t understand the assignment, but they will not attend office hours. They want me to record the office hours so that they can view it later even though they have no assurance that anyone else will ask a question that is relevant to them.

We are supposed to engage in new methods of presenting the material because students supposedly learn differently now. However, we are told to limit a video presentation of the classroom material for an online class to no more than 5-10 minutes long because students can’t pay attention for 30 – 60 minutes. I guess I should make Tok-Tok videos for today’s students. That should be something they can relate to.

From the administrations point of view, if the students do not learn the material, it is the fault of the instructor, not the student. By the way, I teach in a graduate master’s degree program in computer science. Thus, we are talking about students that have already obtained an undergraduate degree. How they managed to get their degree is a mystery to be. Many of these students cannot do math and they do not understand the basic concepts of computer science.

hawkeyedjb said...

Michael K said...
"They would do better in "gender studies" and there is always a need for HR people."

They would almost certainly do better (get better grades) in gender studies, yes. But there is no need for HR people. I wish that entire enterprise could be abolished and its practitioners sent off to find useful work. There actually is a need for more baristas.

Bruce Hayden said...

“Organic chemistry was always hard. Present day students are failing because they don't study and expect to get away with it. They would do better in "gender studies" and there is always a need for HR people.”

It’s the one class in college that I have wished for a long time have wished that I had ballsed it out and taken. I hated Chem lab and, yes, memorizing. I got through Chem 101 by conceptually understanding it, and being extremely good at dry labbing.

My next brother, who took a similar career path as I did, managed to crack the code for Organic Chemistry. The pre-meds hated that this non pre-med was smoking them, with far less work. Of the 5 of us, he was maybe the most brilliant, but in a slow and methodical way, so had the lowest math SATs in the family - and turned out to be the star of the math department in college. No matter how well I did, the profs would ask why I couldn’t be like him. I always wondered if I could have done as well understanding O Chem, but knew that I would have hated the labs worse than in General Chem. (He liked working with his hands, and I did not). In any case, we both ended up as patent attorneys, but he ended up doing some chemical work, which I was precluded from doing.

Bruce Hayden said...

"Organic chemistry sits at the intersection of these two ways of thinking. It requires an exceptional amount of memorization and some pretty advanced problem solving. Thus, people are forced out of their comfort zones by the subject area. People who are used to memorizing fail at applying the things they try and memorize. People who prefer to build things up from first principles are screwed because organic chemistry is not based on first principles. It's based on loose guidelines to reactivity, and there are usually as many exceptions to rules as there are cases that fall within rules."
https://www.businessinsider.com/why-organic-chemistry-is-so-hard-2014-1

It was the memorization that was my problem. Never learned how to do it. So have spent the last 25 years with a woman with a photographic memory. I can remember in 7th grade trying to memorize the geologic eras, and couldn’t. My daughter, with a similar analytic mind to mine, trained herself at a young age (at her mother’s urging) how to memorize. She builds elaborate word games and the like. The funny thing now is that, in my doddering old age, I do just fine memorizing stuff - and esp history, because I have enough context to link to. But 50-60 years ago, not so much.

Jim at said...

I can't believe there are commenters here blaming the prof because a bunch of sniveling, whiny students couldn't be bothered to put in the work to get a decent grade.

n.n said...

Sounds like a setup for a new novel about the devolution of Western Civilization.

Evolution. The process hasn't changed. The fitness function has mutated.

Fritz said...

chickelit said...
O-chem has always been the gatekeeper class to weed out MD candidates. Eliminating it will allow med schools to appoint anyone doctor, which is what outcomes-oriented diversity goals are demanding these days. Good luck with that one in the long run.

It's a lot easier than P-chem, which is used to weed out chemists, which I had to take as an oceanography major. O-chem is a lot of rote memorization of reactions, and then learning to assemble them into syntheses. P-chem combines the worst of calculus with quantum mechanics and throws in a heavy does of thermodynamics.

When I ran a lab, we wanted to hire people who got Bs in P-chem. If they got As, they were too smart to work for us.

JPS said...

JK Brown:

"'Organic chemistry ... requires an exceptional amount of memorization..."

I strongly disagree with that part of this interesting article you've linked. I think defaulting to lots of memorization is the sign of either a teacher unable or unwilling to present the logic behind it, or a student who's unable or unwilling to see it.

One of the experiences I'm most grateful for is my year as a TA for the brilliant, weird [it's a compliment], much-loved Daniel Kemp. At the beginning of each semester he handed out a list of reagents where he couldn't help it, you were just going to have to know what they did. That list was about two-thirds of a page long. Everything else was about understanding the logic of organic chemistry, being able to predict outcomes from principles of reactivity. I'm not the teacher he was, but I'm better for trying to live up to his example.

On another note, growing up I knew a lot of doctors, family friends. When I told them I was going into chemistry, almost all of them responded with a variation on, "Better you than me! Organic chem almost sank my career before it started! All that memorization!" And I'm thinking, You aced anatomy and physiology....

Harsh Pencil said...

I too have taught a large (600-800 students) introductory class in a hard subject. But very easy class. And yet at least 5% just plain fail and there is no way to justify them NOT failing. They do so badly on multiple choice tests that randomly guessing on every question would be almost as good.

I am baffled regarding who these students actually are. They can't be coming to class or ever even opening the book. I guess some students just show up to college and have no idea how to actually DO college.

Leland said...

I guess we succeeded in flattening a curve.

Moondawggie said...

As someone who has practiced medicine for over 40 years as both a med school professor and in private practice, I can confidently say that the one undergrad course that provided me with the most useful skill set to become competent at clinical diagnosis was organic chemistry. If you can't master O-chem, you're lacking an ability that is vital for performing a large part of medical practice. So there is a darn good reason why O-chem is used to "weed out" pre-Med wannabees.

The other great undergrad course used to "weed out" pre-Med students is Calculus. Personally I've only used calculus a few times since undergrad (it was quite useful for calculating chloride ion reuptake in the ascending limb of the loop of Henle in med school renal physiology). However, as Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman observed, Calculus is the language of the universe.

It's darn difficult to understand hard science if you can't speak its language, and competently practicing medicine requires a solid knowledge and mastery of hard science.

Michael said...

Organic chemistry is hard and students don’t like to do hard things. Or most don’t. But like many subjects that don’t translate into required topics in later life organic requires discipline and focus. Two important skills. Ditto Latin. Ditto Medieval literature.

Kate said...

Paddy O -- Hahaha! Brilliant.

When I flunked out of Organic Chem after really trying and studying, I realized brains are built differently. I went back to English, where I could compose and copyedit in my sleep. And I realized that some people couldn't effortlessly do what I had always taken for granted. I still wonder, though, if a teacher with a different style -- not this teacher's method of shrugging at student slowness -- could've taught in a way I could understand.

Michael said...

The Business Insiders' description of Organic Chemistry is mostly y. I have a PhD in Physical Organic Chemistry. Organic Chemistry courses are usually taken in year 2 after General Chemistry. The best approach to OC is to study it like a foreign language. Yes, there is quite a bit to memorize and application of the memorized material. Fundamental algebra is needed at this point.

So learning and application of what is learned is fundamental not only to OC, but to being a medical doctor and is useful nearly every profession. OC is a weeding out course because we are carbon based beings and the chemical reactions of carbon is essential in the study of our bodies. Thus if you do not understand OC, then most likely you will be a confused physician.

The interesting thing is once one takes courses in Physical Chemistry and Quantum Mechanics (both need two years of Calculus), the need for memorization of OC vanishes in regards of chemical reactions. These two courses fully explain WHY reactions occur in the manner they do. This understanding, with the help of calculus, helps predict the result (or no result) of chemical reactions.

Dr. Maitland Jones is a well-known researcher and teacher. It is a pity that the students could not/did not want to learn from this professor.

Charlie Eklund said...

Inmates in charge of the asylum; it’s all the rage these days. Will someone please wake me up as soon as our cultural revolution for idiots is over?

typingtalker said...

Maitland Jones Jr., a respected professor ...

Respected by who? Or by whom? (help me out here, Ann) And for what was he respected? Punctuality? Attendance record? Publications?

Fun stuff.
Name Reactions in Organic Chemistry

Ted said...

Being a doctor is hard! Being a good doctor is even harder. You have to remember and apply a huge number of facts and concepts, solve difficult problems, and know the right thing to do (and avoid the wrong thing to do) in a huge variety of situations -- sometimes at a second's notice. If mastering organic chemistry is too hard for you -- even if you have a good excuse -- please find a different profession.

walter said...

Presumably, OC proficient braintrusts are advocating for ineffective yet harmful jabs and destructive meatball trans-formations of kids.
No big deal since so many docs are forced into electronic medical record systems/insurance coding driven practice by pull-down menu.

effinayright said...

It's not just that students find Organic Chemistry "hard", they RESENT the fact that it's hard and want someone to do something about that.

What coddled little wimps.

I truly suspect some of those students chose Organic Chemistry because they didn't want to study Inorganic chemistry, with its icky use of man-made fertilizers to make GMOs. Or what-ever it's about.

Myself, I didn't find chemistry difficult until I took Physical Chemistry, also known as "P-Chem", as a Chemical Engineering degree requirement.

"Physical chemistry is the study of macroscopic and microscopic phenomena in chemical systems in terms of the principles, practices, and concepts of physics such as motion, energy, force, time, thermodynamics, quantum chemistry, statistical mechanics, analytical dynamics and chemical equilibria."

Tough course.

Yancey Ward said...

"Perhaps organic chemistry is just as foolish a requirement for pre-med."

Pre-med degrees are generally one of these three: Biology, Chemistry, or Biochemistry. You need organic chemistry for all three.

Now, I do think that perhaps you shouldn't need a B.S. or B.A. in anything to get into medical school- that is what the MCAT is for- to screen out the idiots and ignoramuses.

FleetUSA said...

Following on Freeman Hunt: I don't want Doctors who are just sheeple either.

Josephbleau said...

"Dr. Jones, 84, is known for changing the way the subject is taught. In addition to writing the 1,300-page textbook “Organic Chemistry,” now in its fifth edition."

For a Prof. the way to riches ( 30MM+) is to write the commonly used text. I am sure it sells for over $250. And the fifth edition! keep the used books from being reused. A prof who writes a text has to have the whole field mentally at his fingertips, and must spend years in trial and error understanding of how students learn each detail. A thousand problems must be constructed. The prof is invested in making you succeed.

If you can't learn from this person you have to ask, "am I stupid, or is the prof?"

Birches said...

Only 82 out of the 350 students signed the petition against him. I wonder what their math SAT scores were?

rsbsail said...

Organic chemistry wasn't just used to weed out pre-meds. It was also used to weed out aspiring chemical engineers, along with the calculus and differential equation courses.

Michael said...

From Wikipedia: "Jones' field of expertise is reactive intermediates, with particular emphasis on carbenes. He has published extensively in the field of quantum organic chemistry, particularly focusing on the mechanism of quantum molecular reactions. His interest areas include carbenes, carboranes, and heterocycles. Over the course of almost forty years, he and his research group have published 225 papers, averaging some five papers per year or one paper per active group member per year. Jones is also the author of Organic Chemistry texts. He is credited with the naming of bullvalene, which is named after William "Bull" Doering, whom Jones was studying under during his time as a graduate student at Yale University."

Essentialy Jones' research work was the investigation of highly-strained cyclic hydrocarbons, using the insertion of carbenes to form rings of three carbon atoms.

Rollo said...

But these people had better find careers somewhere somehow.

If not, they could be tomorrow's revolutionaries.

Rabel said...

"I can't believe there are commenters here blaming the prof because a bunch of sniveling, whiny students couldn't be bothered to put in the work to get a decent grade."

The students in this pre-med class at NYU would tend to be high achievers.

I don't believe the professors version of the story.

ALP said...

BTW: my sibling is a professor of grievance studies in the Cal State University system, chair of the department. SHE has many of the same complaints about her students as I am seeing here in the much more rigorous STEM disciplines. Biggest complaint: no one reads the syllabus. Thus, some students can't even hack THOSE programs. I asked her once what kind of job these sociology BA students can get upon graduation: "Work for Los Angeles County social services". I almost pissed myself hearing that: how on earth will these people handle the paperwork and bureaucracy of a large county system if reading a syllabus is too much for them?

We are getting dumber as a species for sure.

gpm said...

Organic is one of my bigger scholastic brag stories. In the early 70s, I was a math major taking a lot of language courses (French, Latin, Greek, Old English, linguistics). I had been a math/science/Latin wonk at my (Jesuit, DB!) high school and had APed out of chemistry, physics, Latin, and BC calculus (more brags there!). However, I had to take a chemistry course in college because of a last-minute scholarship (750 bucks, I think) from the American Chemical Society. Organic was the only plausible choice.

The big H normally scarfed up 80 percent of any outside scholarships. However, I got to keep the ACS money (which is basically what I Iived on freshman year) because my financial package had already been set and the bureaucrats couldn't be bothered to change it.a

Because of the pre-med thing, Organic was one of the largest undergrad classes, with a fearsome reputation. I aced it (2 credits!) without breaking a sweat because I had the right skills/mindset noted by others above, such as the geometryical sense I don’t even remember that much memorization, maybe because a lot of things just fell into categories using the right prefix (meth-, eth-, pent-, etc.) plus the right suffix (-ane, -ene, -anol, etc.). Plus, of, course, the dreaded benzene ring and its derivatives.

We had an organic question in the final round of trivia a couple of weeks ago. For the most part, my teammates and I are way older than the kids who make up most of the other teams, but we just got a new youngun (needed for pop culture questions, etc., and, in this case, sports) who seems pretty good. Our bar is in the Longwood medical area, so some of the kids are pretty good at the science stuff but, for the most part, they know nothing about history, geography, mythology, languages, real literature (too many kid-lit questions for our taste), etc.

For this one, we had to put four hydrocarbons in order of the number of carbon atoms. The first and last (methane and octane) were obvious, but we (one of the other members of the team is a biologist) struggled with the other two that would have been a breeze for me fifty years ago: propane and butane. We managed to get them right, which procured us the win.

—gpm

gilbar said...

Can we get a poll going here?
Who thinks that Paddy-O knows how to teach?
Anyone? Besides Paddy-O ??

effinayright said...

Josephbleau said...

"I am sure it sells for over $250. And the fifth edition! keep the used books from being reused."

You may be sure, but you are wrong:

Prices on Abebooks and Amazon range from 5 bucks up to $150 for the latest..

https://tinyurl.com/33zzpd27

https://tinyurl.com/2p8hfyyr

As for earlier editions being un-usable , there's quite a market for used science and engineering textbooks, as most have only minimal differences from the latest.

p.s. to the guy who sneered about Jones being described as "respected": if you author a text that's used in many schools, you are respected for your knowledge. Ditto if your lectures are good.

In my day a standard Inorganic Chem text was written by professors Sienko and Plane. They made gobs of money, because it was a great textbook, well-organized and with clear explanations and illustrations. So, yes, they too were "respected".

Get it?

Howard said...

Rage is all the rage today. I blame it on the self emasculation martyrdom fad warmly embraced by you Trumpsters.

ken in tx said...

My wife is a retired MD. She told me about a required physics course at her med school. When inquired to about why physics was required for a medical degree, the prof said " It's to keep stupid people out of medicine."

Gahrie said...

I don't believe the professors version of the story.

I teach high school government and U.S. History.

I do.

gilbar said...

propane and butane

I just got those Wrong, thinking about them.. VERY irksome
i Should have just thought about boiling points

Drago said...

Howard: "Rage is all the rage today. I blame it on the self emasculation martyrdom fad warmly embraced by you Trumpsters."

Stop mutilating and grooming children Howard.

gilbar said...

Rabel said...
The students in this pre-med class at NYU would tend to be high achievers.

My nephew (the one that thinks we should Legalize ALL Drugs) graduated from NYU
he'd Tell You; that he is a high achiever. He's currently working at McDonald's*

working at McDonald's* okay, he's a corporate accountant, but he's not doing anything fancy

ngtrains said...

Organic was one of my favorite classes. Prof was tough. class at 9 on Tues, Thurs and Sat. test every saturday morning.
It's just like trig identities and computer programming.

I'm at A. I need to get to B. How do I get there. Maybe it takes 10 or 15 steps to make it. You have a toolkit of about 50 processes.
Solve the problem. I was a math major and chem minor.

That's the same as being a doctor. You have A set of symptoms, You want to eliminate them, or a least decide what they mean. Ideally, you want to get to B. but in many cases, B is not perfect health. If you can't take 50 inputs to solve an organic solution, how can you take 1,000 choices to narrow down and (maybe) solve the problem.

walter said...

Howie would like more calm explorations of his concerns, like swim fashions that incorporate auto defib and soothing vibrations.

madAsHell said...

Ya' know what's not surprising?? The folks here that can't speak out cuz they never took organic chemistry.

The Big O forced me out of my pre-med delusion, and over into Mechanical Engineering. Thirty years earlier, my had father had dropped out of ChemE......an organic casualty........and picked up pharmacy. So, I didn't get much grief.

Michael K said...

Does anyone else notice how much Howard is projecting? All his boasting about bike rides and swimming. No mention of his love for "Brokeback Mountain" or "Bros."

Michael K said...

Myself, I didn't find chemistry difficult until I took Physical Chemistry, also known as "P-Chem", as a Chemical Engineering degree requirement.

My lab partner in medical school flunked the first Biochem quiz in freshman year. He talked to the professor and it turned out that he had a PhD in P-Chem. The professor was a bit embarrassed and my lab partner did not have to take Biochem.

He was one of the two PhDs that had invented solid rocket fuel. In summer he would work for Thiokol for a couple of months each summer. He went into Pathology although he was colorblind.

Original Mike said...

A bad professor may make it harder to learn. but that's it. Harder, not impossible. IMO, having been both a professor and, of course, a student, if you're not learning the material you need to look in the mirror. Either you' need to up your game or, perhaps, this area of study is not for you.

Michael McNeil said...

I'm about a half-century out of trigonometry class, but I've used trigonometry several times recently. The subject is really, conceptually and practically, not all that difficult. A couple examples:

Example 1. Some folks on Facebook were misguided as to the (angular) sizes of astronomical objects such as galaxies in our skies. (I know, what a surprise.) So, I demonstrated how large the Andromeda galaxy (M31) is, just as a fur instance. FYI, Andromeda as a relatively “nearby” galactic object lies some 2.5 x 10^6 (2.5 million) light years away. It's also approximately 220 x 10^3 (that is, 220,000) light years in [disk] diameter. Therefore, Andromeda/M31's angular width in earthly skies is:

θ = arctan(220x10^3/2.5x10^6) = arctan(0.88) = 5.029…°

5 degrees is basically 10 full moon widths that Andromeda-the-Galaxy sprawls across in our sky.

Example 2. (The foregoing actually occurred; next is real too.) It happens that I'm in the midst of acquiring and putting up a new house for my partner Ann (another Ann! ha ha) and me to live in — on the quarter-section mountain parcel complete with rushing mountain stream which we bought a couple of years back. The building we have on order is a steel “barn-dominium” (steel: principally for fire-resistance in a forested setting) — the kit for which is to be delivered in literally only a few days — from manufacturer GenSteel.com.

Our new house specifically is to possess a 3:12 pitch gabled roof. The angle (in degrees) of the roof is then:

θ = arctan(3/12) = arctan(0.25) = 14.036…°

As part of planning the project I needed to know the area of the building's roof in order to figure how many downspouts are required to service that roof (so one knows how many to order, duh). The ground dimensions for each of the two gabled roof sections are 31' x 52' — therefore, the roof covers 1,612 sq. ft. x 2 — or 3,224 sq. ft. But what is the area atop the surface of the (angled) roof stretching above that ground area?

The answer is simply: 3,224 sq. ft. / cos θ = 3,323.223… sq. ft.

tommyesq said...

Back in the early '80's, gilbar tried ALL these things; when HE took organic chemistry.
He FAILED, but they said it was His fault, because..
he not only didn’t study, he didn’t seem to know how to study,
he weren’t coming to class, that’s for sure,
he weren’t watching the videos, and he weren’t able to answer the questions.
I didn't realize how much organic chem has changed

Can you Imagine, complaining that organic chem was TOO Hard??


Maybe it's just me, but I always read Gilbar posts with Gilbert Gottfreid's Aflack duck voice in my head. Not that I disagree with him...

Moondawggie said...

"We are very concerned about our scores, and find that they are not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into this class..." So stated the pre-med students petitioning against the professor, as quoted by the NYT.

In my experience, snowflakes, when a guy with a sucking gunshot wound in his chest rolls into your Oakland CA ED, guess what: no one, least of all your patient, cares about the "time and effort" you put into his care.

What they care about is you figuring out the right thing to do, and doing it fast. Been there, done that, many times.

You get "E"s for effort in kindergarten, children. Now you are transitioning to adulthood.

In the real world you get judged based on correct decisions and favorable outcomes. Ask the Navy Seals who survive combat, or the MDs that other MDs respect and ask for advice.

Seems like that professor could have taught you a lot if you had been grounded in reality. Take to heart Robert Heinlein's admonition: "Stupidity is a capital crime. The punishment is death, and there is no Court of Appeals."

If you all got A's in his class, and still wanted to complain, I'd listen to you. But if you flunked the exams, you have no standing to squawk. You could have mastered the texts and easily passed; the chemical laws and nomenclature are no different in the textbooks today that they were 50 years ago. Just because you don't have an instructor who is the equivalent of Tom Hanks at acting doesn't mean you have been deprived.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Blogger Yancey Ward said...
"Perhaps organic chemistry is just as foolish a requirement for pre-med."

Pre-med degrees are generally one of these three: Biology, Chemistry, or Biochemistry. You need organic chemistry for all three.

Now, I do think that perhaps you shouldn't need a B.S. or B.A. in anything to get into medical school- that is what the MCAT is for- to screen out the idiots and ignoramuses.


You're not going to get a decent score on the MCAT if you don't know organic chemistry

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Rabel said...
The students in this pre-med class at NYU would tend to be high achievers.

No, they are people who THINK they are "high achievers".

No actual high achiever ever wrote "my grade doesn't show how much time I spent on the class, so the teacher is at fault." That's the statement of an over entitled moron.

Since they chose to make that kind of statement, it's not possible to believe these are actually intelligent, hard studying kids who worked their asses off

Because if they were that, they would have the grades to show it

~ Gordon Pasha said...

If they think organic chemistry is hard, wait until they hit physical chemistry. While it’s not necessarily required for patient care, the pedagogical experience is very helpful in separating the aspiring doctors from average to exceptional. As a physician I can see that the level of critical thinkers among students is on the decline

Michael McNeil said...

Erratum: in my earlier posting, the Example 1 line of trig. should be:

θ = arctan(220x10^3/2.5x10^6) = arctan(0.088) = 5.029…°

Robert Cook said...

"'We are very concerned about our scores, and find that they are not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into this class...' So stated the pre-med students petitioning against the professor, as quoted by the NYT."

Their scores are an accurate reflection of the degree to which they have learned the subject, which is to say, insufficiently, despite the "time and effort" put forth. Test scores do not measure "time and effort" put forth, as such, but the degree of knowledge gained from that time and effort.

'twas ever thus.

In short, you don't get a gold medal just for "trying" in pre-med (and many other) college courses.

jk said...

Zooming out from this specific case a bit... where exactly do you go from here?

Assume as given that modern university students simply aren't as good at studying subjects such as ochem. The same considerations can apply to law, STEM, and any other program that people "flunk out of", as opposed to degrees they "flunk into."

Do you maintain standards, maintain quality, but end up with very few doctors? The end effect of this is that you end up importing far more doctors from education systems totally unrelated to yours, so you have no idea if they're equivalently rigorous.

Alternatively do you just accept, as a society, that the quality needs to go down in order to supply the quantity needed by the culture at large?

It's probably true that the quality has decreased, but where do you go from here?

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Paddy O said...
The job of a teacher to teach. Do it or get out of the way and let in someone who can. And stop expecting students to fund your privileged lifestyle based on lectures you put together 40 years ago.

No one who complains "my grade doesn't reflect how much time I spent on the class" is actually trying to learn.

You can not teach those who don't want to learn. And by the time college rolls around, you shouldn't even have to try to do so.

The class is a post Covid in person class, so his success or failure at "online teaching" is irrelevant.

The whine was by ~ 80/350 students. Which means it's the bottom quarter of the class.

The ones who didn't come to lecture. Didn't go to office hours. Didn't do the homework. But still expected to pass

Combined with the ones who got in via "affirmative action" of some sort (legacies, anyone?), and just aren't intelligent enough / educated in the foundation basics enough, to pass the class.

Feel free to point out where they wrote "we came to class every day, took good notes, did the homework / exercises, and went to office hours when we didn't get the right answers". Can't?

Then in fact their grades DO accurately represent the amount of effort they put in to the class

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Paddy O said...
My suspicion is that there's a wide mix of faults at work and trying to wholesale blame one side or the other is missing the complexity of all the issues involved.

That's because at best you're an idiot.
"When people tell you what they are, believe them"
They wrote: “We are very concerned about our scores, and find that they are not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into this class,” the petition said.
That is not something written by someone who should be passing the class

What is the comparative fail rates for different faculty teaching this course? Students tend to take courses across different faculty and classes taught with a similar level of competence will match pass/fail rates and student complaints (some faculty are more likable so may have higher evals for just that reason).

Bzzt.

That's only a meaningful comparison if you can then give students a high stakes test measuring what they actually learned, and give the same test to all the students.

If Prof A gives better grades for the same amount of success than Prof B does, that does not prove Prof A is a better teacher, just that she's an easier grader.

If your goal is "we want people to pass", then you do what you propose.
If you want the students to actually be educated, you don't

If students are failing in and complaining more about this professor, then it's actually the job of the administration to find out why and assume this professor is not just getting the worst batch of students in the pool.

It's interesting how blind you are to the possibility of "this professor has actual educational standards, and the other one doesn't".
It's like you don't even value actual education, just grades.

And the more technology, the less demand for skill sets like memorization than just 20 years ago

Which is why Jones was a groundbreaking leader in making OChem more about solving problems, and less about memorization. I guess you missed this:

"Dr. Jones, 84, is known for changing the way the subject is taught. In addition to writing the 1,300-page textbook “Organic Chemistry,” now in its fifth edition, he pioneered a new method of instruction that relied less on rote memorization and more on problem solving."

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Rabel said...
The students in this pre-med class at NYU would tend to be high achievers.

I don't believe the professors version of the story.


1: The petition is from 82 / 350 students. So, less than 1 in 4. I guess the other 3 in 4 are the "high achievers"
2: " are very concerned about our scores, and find that they are not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into this class". If you read that, and decide that the students who wrote it are "high achievers" who were just failed by their instructor, you are the idiot