I’m a beginner instructor teaching undergraduates, and I seem to have their attention and am working hard to inspire them. Recently several of them have told me that they now approach the subject with a newfound enthusiasm because of me.

Anonymous teacher evaluations will probably be an important factor for me to remain employed; yet, I doubt that young undergrads know the significance of the evaluations, and I wonder whether they just circle any ratings on the evaluations form, just so they can get it over and done with as quickly as possible.

So, I am wondering whether I could make an announcement to the students at the end of the semester, when they have to evaluate me, that if they felt I’ve done a good job, this is their chance to support me and put it writing on their evaluations and to be as specific as possible.

Is this ok to ask of the students?

I am a young postdoc at a large crowded university in the USA. Also, I am not from the USA, so my school experience has been very different from the high school experience of my students.

Since I am teaching mathematics classes, I wonder whether there is a good and comprehensible summary the American students have seen in their high school mathematics classes.

Given the fractured education system in the USA, good and comprehensible may be mutually exclusive, but the question is worth a try.

In the next semester, I will be teaching for the first time
a seminar course which is composed of about 25 students.
I am not sure how to respond to prospective students
who have asked me about the grade distribution of the course.

For courses with large enrollments,
I have the impression from my colleagues
that I have to follow the “typical grade distribution” at my university,
which is something like 25% As, 50% Bs, 20% Cs,
and some Ds and Fs if the students really did poorly.

However, for the new course that I am teaching,
I am wondering if I will be given more leeway in the grade distribution
because the course has a small enrollment.
I would like to give grades based on the students’ performance.

  • So if many of the students perform well,
    I would like to give 90% or even 100% of the students
    A grades (A-, A and A+).
  • Conversely, if most of the students perform poorly,
    I would like to be able to give a low proportion of A grades.

Every semester,
a committee made up of members of my department
which will meet to discuss the grade distributions
of each and every course offered by our department.
I am hesitant to recommend grades that deviate too far from
the “typical grade distribution” at my university
because I am afraid of receiving pushback from the committee members.


  • Should I fight for the freedom
    to assign grades according to my academic judgment,
    without necessarily following
    the “typical grade distribution” at my university?
  • Is this a fight that I could win, and if so,
    how do I go about winning it?


I had forgotten to include an important and relevant piece of information.
The goal of the course is to teach students
how to analyze and present business case studies.
Consequently, by its nature,
the evaluation of the students’ performance in the course
will tend to be more subjective,
rather than objective (as it would be for a course on say, calculus).

The grading of the course is based purely on continuous assessment;
we do not have a final exam for the course.
(Given that the purpose of the course is
to develop students’ presentation skills,
a written examination does not seem to be
the right way to assess students’ learning.)

Before I can start my new project, I have to hand in certain document to my supervisor. After reviewing them, he/she gives the official approval and after that I can start working on the project. Handing in documents is done online and is step by step. So I can only hand in a new form when the previous one is approved.

One of the signatures was delayed and the rules are very strict. No documents/approval, no project. Luckily, my supervisor allowed me to start anyway since the rest of the documents is in order. The only requirement was that I would send the document as soon as possible. I have handed in the missing document in the meantime (~2 weeks ago) and I’m waiting for its approval. Without it, I can not hand in the rest of the documents. Unfortunately, my supervisor hasn’t reviewed it yet. Because we work at different locations, stopping by his office is not really an option.

Should I notify my supervisor that he still has to approve of the document and that I’m ready to hand in the rest? I’m inclined to think that this is his responsibility now and not mine. I have met all requirements and starting before the official approval was discussed. I also have no way of knowing how busy he might be. But showing initiative and making sure everything is in order can be seen as a good work ethic. I can show I’m very motivated and willing for this project.

Can I notify my supervisor of the fact he still has a document to review or would this be to ‘pushy’ and I need to be patient

I had trouble finding the right tags. Hope these are fine

I am a teaching assistant for multivariable calculus this semester. As an undergraduate, I took the course but we learned few. To add, it has been more than 5 years since I took the class. So, every week I have to solve about a dozen question from one chapter. Even though I have got the solutions, I study enough to perform well and be able to answer questions from class. However, the problem is, this is not my only job as a graduate student and I should not spend hours and hours on it.

For example, this week I have to solve questions from parametrization of curves, curvature, torsion and some additional subjects. I want to understand every bit of the work. So, how can I study enough to solve questions and answer questions from students without spending too much time?

There are lots of questions about how undergrads should address professors, but this is about the opposite. Context is North American research university.

My instinct and personal preference is to ask undergraduates to address me as Professor Lastname or Dr. Lastname until I let them know otherwise. And I have no problem with explicitly saying this in my syllabus for a class.

But then sometimes I think “actually why aren’t I addressing students as Mr./Ms./Mx/(or some honorofic) Lastname”.

Should I do so? Do you do so?

I’m a moderator for an online forum for a particular module at a distance-learning University.

Part of the job is to answer questions regarding course materials, the other main part is to be on the watch for inappropriate content (rudeness, giving answers away, etc)

In the event of students being rude to each other (which is rare), I wonder what the best approach is. For example:

I think your given use of fleebles to induce warbling is not a good
idea for [reasons]. You must be really up-yourself to think that.

In this situation, am I better snipping the last part out (and leaving in the bit relevant to the discussion), removing the whole post, or even leaving the post there and only acting if the victim is offended. (Maybe there are other options out there?) I generally lean towards snipping, but I wonder if deleting the whole post is “cleaner” (I don’t like deciding what can stay and what has to leave)

If the post was racist/homophobic/sexist/etc. then I would delete the whole post and report the student, I’m looking at cases which are rude and deserve a reminder to “be nice”.