Attributes of Irritating Instructors

A recent article in University World News summarizes a recent study by Nita Temmerman. She conducted “an informal student survey conducted with university students who were asked to anonymously write down the three most irritating things about their lecturers’ conduct”. Oh my, the things instructors do in class!

And now I feel a little bit guilty for bringing YouTube clips to my class for my students to watch, maybe they don’t like this (despite laughing or gasping at the right times) – time for ME to do a two-minute survey at the end of my classes!

  • Lecturers who take delight in telling the class on the very first day that “about 25% of you will fail this course on your first try”, as if this is something to be proud of, when it might just signal that he or she is a lousy teacher!
  • Lecturers who complain all semester long about having to teach this course because: i) the person who usually does is on sabbatical leave; or ii) they were on sabbatical last year and when they got back someone else had taken over their favourite courses and they were left with this one.
  • Lecturers who are never organized and ask at the beginning of every week, “where are we up to?” How much preparation have they bothered to do really?
  • Lecturers who insist you buy the expensive set textbook then never refer to it in class or use it to support assignments.
  • Lecturers who behave as if their course is the most important course in the degree and talk down the other courses – and some of the other lecturers.
  • Lecturers who change the assignment details well into the semester when you have already done some pre-reading and preparation, based on the original assignment details.
  • Lecturers who will not accept an assignment with references more than five years old yet use references in their classes and materials for students that are up to 25 years old.
  • Lecturers who do not hand back assignments before the next assignment is due so you are devoid of any potentially useful feedback to help you improve next time round.
  • Lecturers who talk too much about their personal life during lectures, especially about what they did on the weekend, assuming we students are interested and will think them cool.
  • Lecturers who only teach to the front row or two, speaking quietly to them and ignoring the other 400 students.
  • Lecturers who are boring and do not actively involve the students in any way. The content may be interesting, but their delivery is so dreary with minimal acknowledgement that there even are any students in front of him or her.
  • Lecturers who never bother to learn student names even when there are only 10 or 12 people in the class.
  • Lecturers who don’t teach. Instead they just read the PPT slides or show multiple YouTube clips, which they didn’t even make, and which we could just as easily spend time reading and-or watching in our own time.
  • Lecturers who promise to post notes or materials up on the website by a particular date or time and never do, but blast students for not getting their work in on time.
  • Lecturers who go overtime, which means you are always late for your next class or miss your bus or arrive late for work.
Illustration by Mark22, Classroom,


Temmerman, N. (2016). What do students find irritating about their lecturers? Retrieved from

Attributes of Irritating Instructors

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