Students who won't read directions

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yemaya:
I have a class with an unprecedented number of students who refuse to read either the syllabus, or the instructions on the website.  I receive at least 8-10 emails a day from students whose questions can readily be answered if they just read the freaking course documents.  If I tell them to read the syllabus, they whine, but I diiiiiiiid, and I can't find it.  This is getting old fast.  Any other suggestions to make the students read the course materials or deal with the consequences?

melba_frilkins:
Some instructors post a Q&A discussion board and invite other students to answer questions there. I've even seen instructors who require it and don't answer any emails--but I think that is going too far (not all questions belong on a public discussion board).

The other thing is to announce/remind students that if they want INSTANT ANSWERS!!! those can be found in the syllabus [or other relevant document]. If they'd rather wait a day or two to get the answer, they can use good old email to query you. Do no reply to those types of emails until at least 24 hours have passed.

Did you have a syllabus quiz at the beginning? That always helps.

yemaya:
Quote from: melba_frilkins on January 25, 2013,  4:27:04 PM

Some instructors post a Q&A discussion board and invite other students to answer questions there. I've even seen instructors who require it and don't answer any emails--but I think that is going too far (not all questions belong on a public discussion board).

The other thing is to announce/remind students that if they want INSTANT ANSWERS!!! those can be found in the syllabus [or other relevant document]. If they'd rather wait a day or two to get the answer, they can use good old email to query you. Do no reply to those types of emails until at least 24 hours have passed.

Did you have a syllabus quiz at the beginning? That always helps.


I do have a Q&A board.  What I am seeing is multiple students posting the same question, even though there are threads that clearly answer their question.  I'd be reluctant to deploy a syllabus quiz, but clearly I need to.

scotia:
Quote from: yemaya on January 25, 2013,  3:48:41 PM

I have a class with an unprecedented number of students who refuse to read either the syllabus, or the instructions on the website.  I receive at least 8-10 emails a day from students whose questions can readily be answered if they just read the freaking course documents.  If I tell them to read the syllabus, they whine, but I diiiiiiiid, and I can't find it.  This is getting old fast.  Any other suggestions to make the students read the course materials or deal with the consequences?


When students are not reading the syllabus I have a standard response "Dear X[insert name of student]. Please refer to the syllabus, where this question is answered.". If they try again (and again) the answer is "Dear X. Please refer to my earlier email about checking the syllabus. If you have not yet downloaded and read the syllabus it can be found on [name of CMS] with a lot of other useful material for this class.". I have had students email me three or four times with the same question before they realise that pester power gets nowhere with me. They get the same response each time (I do become helpful if there are good reasons for not having access to the internet or printed syllabus for a longish period of time. Such occasions are rare).

I also have a Q and A board on the CMS. Students are told in class and in the syllabus that this is where they should post any procedural or content questions relating to the class (but not personal issues - those should be emailed to me).  If a student emails me asking a question that should go on the Q and A board I send an email asking them to post the question there and don't provide the answer.  Students who post messages on the board about things that are in the syllabus tend to get very quick responses from students who have read the syllabus telling them that is what they should do to. I find the students tend to be a lot more direct with one another about not reading the syllabus than I am.

yemaya:
Quote from: scotia on January 25, 2013,  5:57:22 PM

Quote from: yemaya on January 25, 2013,  3:48:41 PM

I have a class with an unprecedented number of students who refuse to read either the syllabus, or the instructions on the website.  I receive at least 8-10 emails a day from students whose questions can readily be answered if they just read the freaking course documents.  If I tell them to read the syllabus, they whine, but I diiiiiiiid, and I can't find it.  This is getting old fast.  Any other suggestions to make the students read the course materials or deal with the consequences?


When students are not reading the syllabus I have a standard response "Dear X[insert name of student]. Please refer to the syllabus, where this question is answered.". If they try again (and again) the answer is "Dear X. Please refer to my earlier email about checking the syllabus. If you have not yet downloaded and read the syllabus it can be found on [name of CMS] with a lot of other useful material for this class.". I have had students email me three or four times with the same question before they realise that pester power gets nowhere with me. They get the same response each time (I do become helpful if there are good reasons for not having access to the internet or printed syllabus for a longish period of time. Such occasions are rare).

I also have a Q and A board on the CMS. Students are told in class and in the syllabus that this is where they should post any procedural or content questions relating to the class (but not personal issues - those should be emailed to me).  If a student emails me asking a question that should go on the Q and A board I send an email asking them to post the question there and don't provide the answer.  Students who post messages on the board about things that are in the syllabus tend to get very quick responses from students who have read the syllabus telling them that is what they should do to. I find the students tend to be a lot more direct with one another about not reading the syllabus than I am.


Thanks.  I'm going to have to do some revisions to my policies for my next round of online teaching.

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