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20 Simple Changes That Would Actually Make Students Go To Class

The college student's classroom Bill of Rights.

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Students, do you ever get the urge to grade your professor on how they taught their class? Do you ever want to email them a list of everything they did wrong in the semester? Well, here's some advice to all professors about what they can do to make classes better. If you're a student, share it and include your favorite points on course feedback surveys. If you're a professor, please consider doing these to make your class more enjoyable and engaging for everyone.

Let us use laptops in class

I know laptops can be distracting if not used properly, but as a professor who is not my high school teacher, it is not your responsibility to make sure I'm not distracted in class. I'm paying thousands of dollars to take this class, and I'm responsible for getting the most out of it. And sometimes, the way I can get the most out of your class is by taking notes on my computer because it's a lot faster than writing it out. Also #savethetrees

Give us at least a week to get our books

I know that I can look up the books for the class before the first day. However, those books are really expensive, so I'm never going to buy them before the first class because I need to ask you if I can buy a cheaper version. Give it a week to come in. You can even scan the first chapter, so we can still do the homework.

Put the schedule on the syllabus

When you give your class the whole schedule ahead of time, it means that I'll actually plan my schedule around your assignments. That means fewer vacations before I have a paper due.

Put the assignment sheets on the syllabus

When I know the assignment a couple weeks before it's due, I can manage my time more effectively. Also, you posting the prompt for the paper a couple days before it's due isn't helping anybody.

Teach your TA how to grade

Everyone has had a TA who thinks they're the greatest thing since sliced bread. They'll tear your assignments apart even in a 101 class. Everyone has also had TAs who don't care and give everyone 100%. If you have multiple TAs, they should all be grading the same way so that some people aren't penalized for having a hard grader. Give your grading TAs a rubric so that they'll grade a little more appropriately.

Don't make homework due right after break

It's called a "break" for a reason.

Curve grades

If the average grade is a C or lower on an assignment, then the problem probably wasn't the students. It was your teaching. Try to understand common mistakes and how you can prevent that in the future, but don't give your students a bad grade for something that wasn't their fault.

Actually be in your office during office hours

What's the point of giving us those hours if you don't even show up? Send an email out if you won't be in your office during your regular hours.

Email back promptly

Students usually have a lot going on, so they will inevitably put things off until the last minute. Understand that and check your email often (because we have to check ours every five minutes, too).

Answer all the questions in an email, not just one

You can't pick and choose what part of an email you should respond to. Read the whole thing and answer all the questions in the email.

Stop telling people that they can come talk to you after class if they have questions

I have 10 minutes to walk from this class across campus to my next class. I can't wait in a line of students to talk to you. Give more options for times to ask questions.

Just cancel class the day before break

You're not an idiot. No one is going to come, and I know you want that day off just as much as we do. At least make attendance optional or extra credit.

Leave comments that explain why we got a grade

Getting a grade back on an assignment gives me an idea of how I did on the assignment, but it tells me nothing about what I did wrong. I need feedback if I'm ever going to improve.

Leave positive feedback, too

When you're telling me what I can do better, let me know what I did well, too. That way, I can be sure to do that again in the future.

Grade things promptly

I know you have a lot to grade and grading takes longer when you give a lot of feedback, but when the time it takes to grade is twice as long as the time I had to complete the assignment, that's ridiculous.

Set a date for when you'll have things graded

If I have to have deadlines, you should, too. That's all I'm saying.

Set our deadline for when you'll actually start grading the assignment

There's no point in forcing us to have an assignment finished on Monday if you're not going to even look at it until Thursday.

Set a late assignments policy

And “no late assignments accepted" is not a policy. I know that we need to learn how to meet deadlines, but as someone who gets overwhelmed and stressed to the point of paralysis at certain points in the semester, I really appreciate even the smallest partial credit on late assignments.

Set an absence policy

And “students must attend every class" is not a policy. Jobs have a set amount of personal days and sick days, so classes should, too. I use my skip days to see more of my family or to see the doctor when I'm sick.

Be understanding

I know being a professor is stressful, so I'm willing to accept things when you mess up sometimes. But I expect you to be understanding with me in exchange.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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