It is important to keep in mind a few simple things when communicating with your tutors and lecturers. Clear, concise and open communication can go a long way in your studies; we’ve created a guide that can assist you with effective communication between yourself and your lecturer.
Firstly, most of your lecturers don’t just come into Uni to lecture for a few hours every week and then go home. They normally run one or two courses per semester with an average of 80+ students, and are typically required to also publish one to two journal articles while marking assignments throughout the term. They also handle the administration of their subjects – that is, answering emails and running the online learning environment. The admin is probably the hardest area for lecturers to conquer, as most will receive up to 30 emails per day from students.
With the above kept in mind, here are a few steps you can take to help your lecturers/tutors give you a speedy and satisfactory response to your email.
Use your student email account
You were given your student email account for a reason – use it! Some lecturers/tutors won’t actually respond to personal email addresses, and if they don’t recognise the address they’ll delete them straight away. Emailing from your student email account is the best way to communicate with the University via email.
Include your student number, name of course, and contact details
Your lecturer can have up to 500 students, so it is important to include your student number and name of course for easy identification. Always include your full name and leave your best contact number, in case they need to follow it up in a phone call with you.
Use the subject line
Summarise the body of the email in a couple of words. Will the person know what the subject is by reading the subject line? Having a clear, concise subject line means your lecturer will know straight away what your email is regarding.
Don’t assume they know the background
You may have had a quick chat to your lecturer in the hallway, or you spoke with your tutor and assumed that they spoke with your lecturer – this is sometimes not the case. To be on the safe side and to refresh their memory, it is important to include all the background details in your email.
Be clear and concise
Be clear in your message, as an unclear email will result in a frustrated recipient and delay the response. Although it is important to give sufficient detail in your emails, it is equally as important to keep it brief and to the point. Also ensure you use correct grammar and don’t overdo the acronyms and abbreviations.
Think before you send
Have you looked through the course handbook for the answer to your question? Have you looked on the online learning environment? Are you asking a question to something you could easily find the answer to? Some lecturers will not answer questions if they know the answer is easily found, so make sure you check the subject materials, course announcements or university handbook first.
Do not be angry or rude in emails with your lecturer. The University is training you to be a professional, and if you send emails with inappropriate content in the workplace you can be disciplined (or fired). It’s the same at Uni, so remember that the emails you send are not confidential and could be used as evidence if an issue is escalated.
If you have made all the right moves and are having difficulty getting a response, or you just want to run your case by an independent set of eyes and ears, contact us to get advice. If your questions relate to assessment, you may also find our Assessment Disputes advice page helpful.