More than 60 psychology students from two courses were left without an instructor at the start of the Spring 2020 semester, as an adjunct professor left without notice and caused department staff to search for replacements for affected classes.
“Schedules are crafted to put the most qualified- and available- staff in the courses and classrooms that best maximize the learning experience for students,” said Social Science Division Chair Michael Dulay in an email interview. “In rare cases, faculty withdraw from teaching assignments just as a term is starting.”
The faculty member, who was scheduled to teach two ‘Research Methods for Psychology’ courses (Psych 200), withdrew from both classes the following day after the semester began, students and staff told El Vaquero. Dr. Alison Johnson took over one of the classes, but in doing so was unable to continue teaching her Marriage and Intimate Relationships course (Psych 131), which overlapped with the class.
Students in Dr. Johnson’s class were notified later in the evening that their class did not have a professor and at the time it was unclear who would teach the course. Those who enrolled in the psychology class were disgruntled when informed that the class would not only be handed over to another faculty member as soon as possible, but that their new instructor would then have the option of changing the class’s structure.
“Honestly it is what it is, although I think it’s pretty lame that we pay for somebody and find out that it’s somebody else last minute. That’s not right,” said 20-year-old Casey Bregman, a Psychology major enrolled in Psych 131.
Initially, many students in both Psych 131 and 200 were in fear that their class would be cancelled if no instructor was available, not allowing them to complete the final requirements to graduate or transfer this Spring. Psych 200 is a required major course needed to transfer to most of the state’s UC and CSU universities. Meanwhile, Psych 131 is listed as a choice of courses to complete for an Associate in Arts for Transfer in Psychology, as well as one of the options to fulfill the diversity requirement for psychology transfers heading to Cal State Los Angeles.
After one week, psychology professor Nouha Hallack was assigned to take over Psych 131, retaining its original lecture hours on Wednesdays. Because of the short notice, Hallack decided to follow Dr. Johnson’s class scheduling and assignments and chose to honor her syllabus to the class’ satisfaction.
“The change in professor did cause me to reconsider taking the class since I signed up to take the psych class with that specific professor, but at the end of the day it is all the same material,” said 18-year-old Madalyn Fabian, a communications major. “However, I do wish the students got a little heads up before the first day of class so we wouldn’t have been totally blindsided.”
In most situations where a class is left without an instructor, a division often would seek to “give students the opportunity to transfer to another section” or “staff the class after searching for a faculty replacement,” Dulay explained. The other option was to cancel courses, which, Dulay explained, “was a non-starter for me, especially since Psych 200 is a capstone transfer course.”
The division chair stressed that alternatives were quickly provided and that no classes were cancelled. Dulay added that he hopes students “understand that many of us will do more than is expected in order to preserve the opportunities for all students to achieve their stated academic, personal, and/or career goals.”
Students with concerns are advised to direct their concerns to the Social Science Division Office or to Instructional Services.