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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am referring to those who are so firmly set in their mentality or decisions, that they are incapable of reasoning with. When most of us make decisions, I think we are still capable of reasoning and changing our minds -- if someone presents an alternative perspective or new information, we are able to consider the points they make and if necessary, adjust our conclusion and admit "you're right. That is a reasonable and logical point once I think about it this way. Looks like I was wrong on this."

Recently, though, I encountered someone who is very firmly set in his own intuitive world/mentality, that the conclusions he makes are the only possible answers. He won't consider the possibility that there is an alternative conclusion or answer (other than his, even when new information proves otherwise!). He will, however, take time to debate (for pages and pages) on all the small details of the other person's point, but this has no bearing on changing his firmly entrenched ideas.

Specifically, this is regarding a professor. A lot of his multiple choice questions are ambiguous so that we have to choose the "best" answer (this means that there can be 2 correct answers, but one is better); often the line between the best and next-best answer is very, very, very thin. He talks a lot about making a decision from our intuition. And when we present him evidence from our text and his own lecture that points to another answer, he is incapable of incorporating the new information into his mentality and accepting - he seems to just select and choose, rather than taking things "as is."

For example, on one question, there were two answers that were correct, but one was better according to our professor's intuitive reasoning. He literally said, if we "think about it intuitively, this is the best answer." BUT. This is a social science class. Answers should be based on facts not intuition. Another student (not me) found evidence from our textbook that pointed that the other answer was the best answer, factually. Based on this new information, it's clear what answer was "best," however, professor sent a 5 page attached document to student debating and elaborating on what the textbook said. Conclusion was this: "You raise some very interesting and debatable points, but you are wrong." I find this frustrating, because if the test was fact-based, there is one right or wrong answer, but the professor relies on his own intuitive interpretation of the question. As a result, even if new information suggests otherwise, his opinion is the only right one.

So here's the main thing: Several students, since the first exam (there were 5 exams total), have emailed the professor about potentially correct answers with similar evidence to show their points. However, all have resulted in pages and pages of debating/elaborating on evidence, but ultimately concluding that he is still right. The thing is... I respect professors, but I think that this one is in his own world. Given that this is a social science class, I think he should grade answers based on their factual validity not on his intuitive interpretation of something. Question is: how do I convince him or reason with him? Desperately need your help - there is one exam where I did very poorly; there are many questions I am absolutely positive about its factual validity; however, I was marked wrong based on the professor's intuitive ideas about the answer. Appealing this exam will make the difference in my grade... ANY advice would be helpful
 

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"however, I was marked wrong based on the professor's intuitive ideas about the answer. Appealing this exam will make the difference in my grade... ANY advice would be helpful"

ISTJs don't follow their (our) intuition and don't place so much importance on intuition as this professor of yours has when dealing with intellectual matters. Therefore I would say he is most definitely NOT an ISTJ. Therefore commenting on how and why this professor thinks the way he does and marks papers the way he does is beyond the scope of this ISTJ forum. We think about facts gathered via our senses. We are not intuitors. This chap sounds like he may be an INTx.

Might I respectfully suggest you ask for advice in the INTJ and INTP forums.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
well ikind of figured he wasn't istj already because of all that intuition stuff, but I was just posting on here because i've always liked to hear ISTJ perspectives (if you guys don't mind) :)
 

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Say your professor is like me and he just wants the new information to make sense. If that is so, the best course of action would be to draw from a broad palette of different hypothesis. He needs to be shown in pictures why there is a causal link between A and B, and how that could fit in with theories he has already established as believeable. The way we gather information is like children do, we try stuff out. We come to expect what direction a billiard ball will roll based on the momentum and velocity of the cue. The same kind of intuitive reasoning when applied to social sciences would take a far less concrete form, making it difficult to convey excactly why it is like it is.

That being said, your professor is completely misguided. The "Think about it intuitively" answer is no way to validate an answer.
 

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I've had professors like that and it still burns me when I think about their "system" of grading. This may not be the BEST advice; YMMV, but I'll tell you how I survived it - dig in and finish the class as best you can so that you don't have to retake it. Then in the future do NOT take that professor for a class. Take an online one at another campus (of the same university) if you have to, but at least you know now to never voluntarily subject yourself to that particular professor again.
 

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I've had professors like that and it still burns me when I think about their "system" of grading. This may not be the BEST advice; YMMV, but I'll tell you how I survived it - dig in and finish the class as best you can so that you don't have to retake it. Then in the future do NOT take that professor for a class. Take an online one at another campus (of the same university) if you have to, but at least you know now to never voluntarily subject yourself to that particular professor again.
It would chap my hide, but this is probably the wisest course of action.

It would be worth the effort to discuss (not email) the situation with the professor and point out how this scoring method is negatively impacting your grade. Chances are, you will be given a bit of consideration when he is passing out final grades.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes, I'm just clenching my teeth (is that the right phrase?), digging into the material and finishing the class the best I can. The class has already ended, but they have about 2-3 more weeks to grade the last of the material and submit grades. I'm taking several classes this summer and this is actually a hybrid one - half online, half in person. The in-person stuff is all done by his assistants anyway so it's a highly impersonal class. His assistants also have no say over the answers - I believe when it comes to the exam answers, the professor lays down the law. I wish I could speak with him in person about this scoring method, but he insists everything be done by email and personally I think that a lot gets lost in translation in emails, so I want to avoid that.

I would like to somehow relay that his scoring method is negatively impacting my grade, but I don't want to come off as pushy or that my opinion is "better" than his. I respect him as a professor, and I respect he makes certain choices, I just disagree with them.

Logically, the questions always have two answers that can be logically inferred, but one is the best one, because intuitively, he says so (So, two answers will be 75% pure logical, but one is 25% intuitive, the other is not. The 25% intuitive one is the right one).. In a debate, I think that having ambiguity/intuitive thoughts are OK, but in a multiple choice test, I think it would be more fair if there was one logically clear-cut answer.

My main point is that: There are two logically clear-cut answers on most of his questions. I understand where my professor is coming from in choosing an answer that his intuition tells him is best, but it's hard to argue against intuition, so I'm at a loss of what to do. I've found, I can usually reason with someone based on new information , but when other students have shown him new information, he says "Ah, that's a good point" and I get the sense he derives intense pleasure from debating all these points and disproving them/showing how they are incompatible with his intuitive interpretation. <- I'm seriously at a loss when it comes to this and since his mindset is something I am very new to. My grade is borderline, so if I can somehow communicate with him about his questions on this particular exam, it would be beneficial to me. Im pretty sure he doesn't round up, so... it would suck to be stuck with a "+" grade, when I was a few points away from the "-" grade one letter grade up. (Ex: C+ vs. B- or B+ vs. A-)

And thanks everyone for posting. :) I really respect all the different perspectives here, and the different approaches I can view the situation. Also, I am getting the sense that this professor likes to just have the last word. This is fine. But I don't know how I could offer my perspectives in a way that would allow him to have the last word?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I sorted my thoughts on this further. Can you guys help me logically understand and think about this situation? I am just kind of driven by this feeling that "this is not fair," and I can't think about this objectively. I just feel some bitterness towards this professor and I think that the more I think about this issue, the more my feelings and thoughts get clouded. I feel like this is not right, because there is ambiguity in the answers, but other than that, I can't go further.

I think it would help if you guys could help me spot and point the logical fallacies in this professor's selection of right/wrong answers on the exam? I know I am right, but I just don't know how to express myself (logically) at this point. If I were to speak with the professor right now, I think I would just clam up and say "it's not fair because some of your questions have answers that can be argued either way based on the text," but if he starts up a logical debate, I'd be at a loss of what to do or say.

Helpful link ,maybe:
http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html
 

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At the risk of sounding heartless, you're right. It's not "fair", but life rarely is. You are not going to come out the victor in any argument against this professor, regardless of how bulletproof you believe your argument to be at the time. For the sake of your own sanity, please don't try to analyze him. You can't control how other people act. You can only control how you react (a hard pill for us ISTJ's to swallow, believe me). Just my .02, of course ... HTH
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yeah, you guys are right. It's just difficult for me, because I'm a firm believer in hard work. I believe that hard work pays off and that classes should assess the quality of the student's work. In this case, I was assessed not on my hard work but on my intuitive abilities, or how closely my intuition matched my professor's. In my four years of college (and even all my schooling before), I've always learned to "suck it up," sit out the class patiently, and eventually earn the "A" I wanted. I've had really difficult teachers with different methods, but I found that they were still fair and reasonable, whereas I felt like I was running into a wall with this professor. Whenever I asked him for help on how I could better learn and master the material, he sort of dismissed me and said that what I was doing was fine, and didn't offer any additional perspectives or basis for me to try and improve. It would just suck if this (non-major, lower division) class ruined my gpa after 4 years of working my butt off to achieve the gpa I have right now.

Until now, I kind of frowned upon students who complained about teachers and their methods, because I always had the mentality of "work hard. Even if the teachers method is difficult and demanding, if you work hard, you will eventually earn the grade you want." But now, I find myself in this kind of position... Professor also aims for a ~30-40% average on his exams. One time he frowned and was disappointed when we scored slightly above what he expected. Blah! Thanks for listening to my rant though guys. :( and perhaps I'm not so much of an Intuitive person..
 
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