It’s In The Syllabus

It’s In The Syllabus August 22, 2016

It is in the syllabus

I think we have three options. One is to say “you should already know the answer to that question” and carry on. One is to say “Please come to my office hours.” And one other is to recognize that, if we were in their situation, we too might miss something that is in a dense syllabus, just as we miss things in any other kind of instruction manual, and to take the time to be helpful, even if briefly. There is evidence that the connections which students make with faculty, even around questions that are answered in the syllabus, can have a lasting and meaningful impact.

How do you respond? How did professors respond to you? How, based on your experience, would you recommend that professors respond to questions that students should already know the answer to?

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  • If it is a simple question, I would answer it right there. This is a matter of clearing up possible confusion.

    If it is a complex question that would distract from the class discussion, I would ask the student to see me in my office — either during scheduled office hours or immediately after class.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I tend to answer it (usually), but always preface my answer with, “As it says in the syllabus…” or “According to the syllabus…”

  • I was patient with ’em. Students who never bother to read the syllabus need all the help they can get, ’cause they’re certainly not gonna get A’s.

    Of course when I was in school, there were profs who were patient, and profs who were not—who were downright incensed we’d dare waste precious moments on a syllabus question. In all cases the offended professors proved to be awful human beings. Clever people, but antisocial, bitter—and unlike the TV shows which feature such characters, very little charisma. I suspect they dropped any pretense of it once they got tenure. Anyway, I resolved to NOT be like them: I’m here to help, not grouse about one minute of my life (if that) lost.