How do you handle student complaints?

  1. [font=fixedsys]hey guys....
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    [font=fixedsys]okay, at the end of the semester, i make a point to get better and try better for the next semester. well, this spring is my 5th semester now, and i am still getting complaints.
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    [font=fixedsys]most of the complaints are about difficult tests, expecting too much, giving too much homework or not enough study time!!
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    [font=fixedsys]my boss backs me up 100%, however, i get down on myself and worry about it. how do you handle your student complaints? (if any)
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    :trout:
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    About nursebrandie28

    Joined: Jul '06; Posts: 210; Likes: 74
    ER nurse, nursing instructor
    Specialty: Critical Care/Teaching

    16 Comments

  3. by   Jokerhill
    What is the pass rate on the test and for the class? You have a responsibility to give them the best possibility for success, any less you would be failing them and the system. If they ask why you are so hard on them, turn and ask them if they want to pass the NCLEX and have a chance of on the job success. Then tell them you are doing your absolute best to ensure they have the best opportunity for passing, and be ready with the previous class pass rates. Now if you are failing 30% - 40% of
    your students on the test or in the class you need to look at your teaching.
  4. by   nursebrandie28
    To pass our tests, the students must obtain 78%. Out of 17 students, usually 5 will fail, however, those 5 are the ones always complaining, sleeping in class, showing up late, etc!!

    They drive me nuts.
  5. by   KatrinaRN
    Hi nursebrandie28,

    I have been going through the same thing lately. Students complaining the exams are too difficult seems to be the most prevalent complaint. I usually have anywhere from 4-7 students fail each semester, but they are almost without fail the students who skip class, leave early, and sleep in class. I have students who actually sit there as I'm writing important information to be added to their notes on the board, and write nothing down. What do they expect?

    I currently have a small group of 15 students and 4 of them will definitely fail (class ends Thursday). All 4 are rarely in class and if they are they leave after an hour or so. All 4 have failed this class previously, so this is their second and third times taking it. Two of the students have had this class with other instructors, so I don't feel that I'm the problem.

    Like you, my boss backs me up, but it's still difficult to listen to the complaints. I know it's not easy to listen to complaints or harsh criticism, but when you see that the students failing or complaining are the ones sleeping and not coming to class, you are not to be blamed. I have learned over time there will be complainers in every class no matter how great the teacher is. Some students simply do not want to take responsibility for their failures and lack of effort.

    Katrina
  6. by   tkhayman
    Hi everyone,
    I am new to teaching and have had complaints too. It really upset me but then i talked it over with another instructor (she has been doing this for 3 years, and has complaints too.)
    All we can do is take it into consideration and do the best we know how. I too have some that come in late and fall asleep. I try to wake them up to the best of my ability. I make sure i cover all the material for the tests and give them hints on it. At the end of the day if they still complain i do not know what else to do. i just go on the best that i can.
    Good luck to you all, and some students do not appreciate how much non paid work hours we instructors put in.
  7. by   justme1972
    I'm a student, and I strongly feel that college professors should provide clear and understandable instruction.

    With that said, I also feel that students have responsibilities. To show up, to read, to ask questions, do assigned homework and projects...I have always been a "B" student...and I am returning to school this semester after many a year absence...I put all of this into practice because I absolutely could not afford to take a class twice...and guess what? The "A's" that I mysteriously avoided in the past...are reflecting in every class I am taking right now, and my efforts are paying off.

    If the only students that are failing, are the ones skipping class and not doing their part...then you are CERTAINLY doing yours. I don't think any teacher goes a semester without someone complaining. Also, some subject matter such as Chemistry, AP, are just plain hard and it doesn't matter who teaches it....it's just a hard class!

    Now, I've never taught school, but I did have a very experienced educator to tell me once that the majority of your students should receive C's...the same number of students should recieve A's and F's...and then the same number of students should receive D's and B's....thereabouts.

    Don't beat yourself up.
  8. by   Curious0599
    Hi,

    I am currently a PN student and recently made a complaint against a new, never before taught instructor for testing on material NOT covered in class, nor was there reference made to where information might be found about the particular subject she tested on. After taking these tests and finding I did not pass 3 out of 5, each time I asked the instructor where this information she tested on was so I could at least read about it and educate myself for future tests. Each time her answer was "t's in the book".
    I have been in this program since last July, NEVER miss a day of class/clinical, pay attention, ask questions, etc., I was due to graduate this Aug. 2 BUT I failed this instructors class by 2 points!

    So my advice would be to please please please when you are giving a test, make sure information is either covered in class, shown what chapters to read or anywhere information would be found on information you are testing on, so the student has at least 1/2 a chance.
  9. by   MikeyJ
    From a nursing student standpoint (and I am not a slacker at all -- I study my butt off!), I really enjoy when professors give at least some direction as to what to study. Such as, if you want your students to not only study your lecture notes but also the book, then give them direction as to what to focus on in the book. I have a professor right now (he is actually a Ph.D. student teaching his 1st class ever) and when we asked him what to study for our exam, he responded by saying "my notes and the book". Well the book is nearly 600 pages long, thus I highly doubt any student is going to intently study the entire book.
  10. by   vickynurse
    Brandi28,

    I've been teaching for 12 years and have the same complaints class after class. Don't beat yourself up. As long as 80% of the students pass the course and 80% pass the NCLEX, don't worry about it. YOU do not own this problem.
  11. by   MikeyJ
    Quote from vickynurse
    Brandi28,

    I've been teaching for 12 years and have the same complaints class after class. Don't beat yourself up. As long as 80% of the students pass the course and 80% pass the NCLEX, don't worry about it. YOU do not own this problem.
    I am very interested in pursuing nursing education, and I tell myself all the time that I will not have this attitude. I am lucky that my nursing professors thus far haven't had this type of attitude.

    I had a microbiology class that was INSANELY difficult, and I am a very dilligent student who studies every night of the week and spends many hours on weekends. I scraped by my microbiology class with a "B" average, and when I asked the professor if he would break down the class statistics, this is what he told me: 140 total students -- 3 students got A's, 10 got B's, 90 or so students got C's, and the rest got D's and F's. I was horrified that a professor would make a class THAT difficult where over 90% of the class got a C' or lower. He replied by saying, "well at least 80% passed right?". Yeah, with a "C"!

    I wish professors/lecturers would be interested in not only helping their students enjoy the class and actually learn, but also design the class in a way where students can do well if they study.
  12. by   justme1972
    Quote from vickynurse
    Brandi28,

    I've been teaching for 12 years and have the same complaints class after class. Don't beat yourself up. As long as 80% of the students pass the course and 80% pass the NCLEX, don't worry about it. YOU do not own this problem.
    I'm just curious, and I mean that with all sincerity, if you have had the same complaints year after year from students for 12 years, why do you not feel their complaint is important?

    12 years of students, after all, can't be wrong. You didn't say exactly what their complaint was, but I'll be honest, things like this scare me.

    Do colleges care that little?
  13. by   vickynurse
    Quote from nursebrandie28
    Out of 17 students, usually 5 will fail, however, those 5 are the ones always complaining, sleeping in class, showing up late, etc!!

    They drive me nuts.
    I don't like loosing students either, but I tell myself that no employer wants this type of person on their staff. Furthermore, pts will not benefit from a nurse with those characteristics. You are doing a service to the profession by being a 'gate keeper'.
    BTW, were you seeking feedback from experienced nurse educators, or 'advice from students'?
  14. by   llg
    I think you have to honestly evaluate what the complaints are and who is complaining. Just reading the previous posts in this thread, you can see the range of possibilities.

    Evaluate their complaints ... and if they are legitimate, then make the appropriate changes. If they are not legitimate, don't let them intimidate you or play mind games with you. Remember that some of the "least worthy" students are experts at playing on your guilt feelings and making you feel like you are being mean for maintaining high standards. That's how they've gotten this far in school. Don't become a sucker -- and don't graduate nurses that can't pass boards and/or can't give good patient care. Pause and ask yourself if you are being both kind and fair -- and if the answer is "yes," don't be afraid to give the low grade the student has earned. Part of your job is to evaluate their performance and give them an honest grade that truly reflects the quality of the work they have done in your course.

    That said ... don't get stuck in a rut or be so set in your ways that you refuse to consider making a few changes. If some of the better students in your class make the same suggestions and/or large numbers of students seem to be struggling with certain aspects of your course, it's may be time to make a few changes.

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