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A Students Bill of Rights – What Your Students Expect from You




Every semester we pull out our dusty syllabi, brush off the dust and redo the tome.  Each time it seems to grow in length as we add the latest policy and tweak our wording to deal with that one student that gave us trouble last semester. 


We use bullet points and catchy phrases such as "read to succeed", or "road maps to success".  Detailed instructions, lists explaining our expectations, and describing appropriate behaviors round out our lengthy document. We try everything we can think of to make a difference, all the while, grumbling that students never read the syllabus we slaved over anyway. 


But have we ever stopped to ask ourselves: what do students expect from us? 


What would you expect from your college professor?  As an experiment this semester, I asked one of my classes what they wanted from me, and here is their list:


  1. An engaging class with a Today’s students do not like to waste time and they want to learn.  They don’t respect a teacher who wings it.
  2. Fair unbiased treatment. Students like instructors who holds the line and treats everyone fairly. 
  3. A schedule with clear due dates and a course calendar that even the professor follows. Our students are busy, and most of my class were enrolled fulltime while holding down part time jobs and volunteering at local organizations.  Students need to plan.  To quote a student, “Instructors always tell me to practice time management.  But how can I when I don’t know when things are due?”
  4. Graded work returned promptly. If students have firm deadlines, instructors should as well. Grade work on a timetable, and provide constructive feedback.  Students complained about instructors who wrote all over their papers in shorthand that made no sense.
  5. An Understanding Ear – Students want to know that we care about them, and they want to be heard. Even if we say no, if we can do it in an understanding way everyone wins.  They want us to relate.   

These are just a few things students expect.  What do your students expect of you, and how do you respond? 


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