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Communicating Effectively with Your Professor

Jennifer Imsande, Center for Advocacy and Political Leadership


In this article, Jennifer offers an example of her proactive approach to dealing with e-mail. This is what she gives to her students at the beginning of each semester.

How should you communicate with me or ask questions?

Do phone, e-mail or stop me after class to talk. Do visit me in my office hours.

I have set up an online discussion forum called, “I have a question about?” I strongly urge you to post any question/concern (that is not private) in that forum. This serves two purposes. First, if multiple students have the same question, or multiple students would benefit from the answer to one student’s question, I can answer it one time. In addition to helping me manage my time, students often answer each other’s questions and thereby help build a stronger learning community.

Because I want to protect your privacy and avoid miscommunication, I will only discuss grade disputes in person. If my office hours conflict with your academic or work schedule, I will work with you to arrange an alternate time to meet.

What can you expect from me?

  • I will respond to all e-mails within 48 hours, excepting weekends and holidays.
  • I will respond to all voice-mail messages within 48 hours, excepting weekends and holidays. (Please speak slowly and clearly when leaving your phone number.)
  • I will check the “I have a question” forum at minimum once every 48 hours, excepting weekends and holidays.

What do I expect from you?

  • I expect you to use your UMD e-mail account to communicate with me and to receive communications from me. I expect you to check for messages from me at least one time each week (for a face-to-face class) and at least every 48 hours (in an online course).
  • I expect you to put your class prefix and number in the subject line of an e-mail, identify yourself in the body of the e-mail, and include contact information. If your e-mail does not contain those things, I might accidentally delete it (as spam) or it might get lost in my inbox (which can grow quite large).
  • I expect you to use appropriate N-etiquette when communicating with me or your peers online. Avoid using ALL CAPS and make sure to avoid unintentionally hostile or aggressive messages. (I don’t mean to imply intentionally hostile or aggressive message are acceptable.) Screen your messages before posting or hitting “send.”
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Last modified on 06/24/13 02:03 PM
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