Don’t get me wrong. Asking your professor good questions is definitely ok. See the It’s Ok to Ask Questions post for exactly what I mean.
Asking questions demonstrates that you care about the course and content. The interaction is also a fabulous opportunity for you to start building a relationship with your professor which may come in handy down the road (See the Will You Be My Reference? post).
The bottom line is that you need to think about what your questions really say about you before you ask. I’m not saying that you should never think about these questions and seek out answers to them but most of the time you shouldn’t present them to your professor.
The list below highlights the dreaded questions followed by your professor’s true feelings. In some cases your professor might actually verbalize the response which will likely result in embarrassed faces and awkward moments and in others you might simply notice that your professor is rolling her eyes while she grunts a short response.
Neither situation is ideal.
Here we go…
1. Will that be on the test?
Who cares? Aren’t you here to learn? It’s impossible to “test” every single topic, concept and idea so…maybe. That’s right maybe. All content covered in the readings, lectures, class discussions and exercises is fair game people.
Advice: Be prepared. Assume that all content covered in readings, lectures, discussions, exercises and through guest speakers is testable unless otherwise noted.
2. What did I miss in class?
Who am I? Your mother? I have (insert large #) number of students in my courses and I’m a busy person. I can’t possibly “re-do” the missed class for you. Figure it out yourself.
Advice: It’s your responsibility to get what you need/what you missed from somebody else in the class. Most of the time professors post lecture notes and announcements through their course websites so some of this information is easily accessible to you. Get to know other students in the class early in the term so that you can connect with them and find out what you missed in the case you need to miss a class.
3. Is it ok if I leave early/miss class?
See the initial response above. You are an adult and capable of making your own choices. If you choose to leave class early to tend to something else you deem more important then don’t look for my approval. I manage to schedule my dental appointments, doctor’s appointments, personal training appointments and everything else outside of my teaching hours because class is important to me. Do what you need to do.
Advice: Unless you are asked to report absences (perhaps for a seminar session) or your absence will affect the way the class functions (like you were supposed to deliver a presentation) it’s best not to say anything on this one. If you need to leave early then sit somewhere where you won’t disrupt the class when you leave.
Aside: I once had a student tell me at the beginning of class that she had to leave early and then pack up and walk out five minutes into the class. Are you kidding me?
I want to know. Have you ever asked your professor a question and received a surprising (good or bad) response? Share!
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/colinkinner/2200500024/”>Colin_K</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>