As I was reading that article I went from being mortified at the student e-mails, to ambivilence, to being mortified at Professors, and a bit of :rolleyes: for good measure. First, the students:
Holy moly, I can’t believe anyone would be that stupid, or that brass to send e-mails like this. I mean come on, its stupid to be late for a morning class becuase you were drinking too much. E-mailing your professor and telling him this? Well, that brings it to a whole 'nother level. Again, its one thing to think, “quit asking quesitons moron,” but it takes some serious balls to e-mail the professor and tell him that.
I guess I don’t see the problem with these e-mails. Its a good thing for a professor to get feedback about lectures, or at least it should be. I think things like “we could use the readings more,” or “summarizing the lecture at the end would be helpful,” are decent suggestions, and probably would improve a lecture. It just seems poor that a professor would not want to hear suggestions to improve his or her lecture.
On the other hand, something like “you are going too fast,” is not a particularly good suggestion. Most college courses have a fixed amount of material to get through in a fixed amount of time. Its really impossible to slow down. A reply stating as such, and a suggestion to come in for office hours if they need help seems appropiate. However, that does waste time for the professor. A student ought to know that slowing down isn’t an option, and that coming into office hours is their best option.
I think that this is very poor on the professors part. I understand that a professor is not the appropiate person to ask this question, but that doesn’t mean the professor should just ignore it. Is it that tough to point a freshman, who clearly needs help, towards the right resoruces? In addition, you can’t expect every freshman to know exactly what questions are appropiate and inappropiate for a professor. How hard is it to write:
I appreciate your desire to learn, but I am not the one to answer this question. For help with studying techniques please go to the tutoring center located [insert contact information] with your questions. For future reference, professors should be contacted for help in their specific course, or for things like letters of recommendation. Questions about the university, studying techniques, or other general questions should be directed to your advisor, or other resources at the university. Welcome to [insert school name], and good luck in your next four years.
An e-mail like that takes five minutes, and ought to help the student. First, s/he actually gets her question answered instead of ignored. Second, the student’s behavior gets gently corrected, and hopefully will ask only appropiate questions in the future.
Come on, “infallible sources of deep knowledge,” no one ever thought of their professors that why, right?