off, let me make one thing clear: some of my
grades (see above) would have been lower if it had
not been for the course 'module', which Prof. Oliver did
not write herself (since it was written by another instructor
over a decade ago). She could not change the module,
she just had to teach it. The module was fantastic
and I learnt a great deal from it.
wrong with this class really was due to Prof. Oliver.
She did not agree with the module, and in her
assignment instructions would change whole parts of the module's assignments,
making the requirements unclear and misleading. She began these instructions
with bold red captions in a larger font admonishing the
class to read her instructions carefully; she clearly thought the
reason that the entire class did not follow her instructions
was due to the fact that we did not read
them (we did).
The module which seemed interesting (as did
the Professor who originally taught it) was taken by Prof.
Oliver and turned into something else; assignments seemed random and
sometimes not relevant to the module.
Prof. Oliver also did
not seem to have much time for teaching. This was
an online course, so contact was already less intensive than
an offline course; yet her office hours were even more
restricted, as they depended on whether she “had plans for
the evenings”. She was rarely there during these office hours
When she did appear online, she only connected and
conversed with a select group of students (three out nine).
She would comment on their work extensively, answer multiple questions,
etc. Sometimes she would not respond to the rest of
the class until fifteen minutes before the deadline of the
assignment (which happened again in the week of the finals,
of all times).
The feedback received was less than helpful,
too. Often it was clear she had not even looked
at the students' work carefully, giving them feedback that was
essentially irrelevant to what they had designed. Often she would
latch on to small issues in your work and make
you redo the entire drawing. Essentially, if it did not
look enough like her specific style (developed during the 90s
with Disney), it was not good enough. Feedback was limited
to draw overs, which did not take into account the
student's own style and work; all traces of the original
work were lost when she made these draw overs, because
her approach to critiquing was not for the betterment of
the student's personal skill set or style but rather to
get them to draw things like her.
It is always
a bad thing when one must conclude that the key
to performing well in an art course is not being
creative, but rather adhering to formula.
Overall, Prof. Oliver seems
capable in her own style. But she was single-minded, did
not communicate well with other students and was often unavailable
for advice. All in all, I don't think she should
continue teaching this course, because it is simply not one
of her strengths.