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Academic Communication

Understanding the best way to engage in academic communication can greatly assist in the development of professional relationships. Individuals need to adjust their communication style for different settings (e.g. how you speak to friends is different than how you speak to your parents or instructors in your classes). Expressing any issues or ideas politely, clearly, and formally is the best way to be recognized and receive assistance.

General Tips for Healthy Communication with Campus Professionals

  • Do not wait until the last minute to request assistance from a professor or instructor. Campus professionals often do not keep regular hours and may be in a class, at a meeting, or off-campus. It is reasonable to expect a professor to need a few days before responding to student communications.
  • Always check the class syllabus before asking a professor or instructor a question about a course.
  • Do not expect a professor or instructor to deviate from their prerequisite, attendance, or grading policies.
  • Contact information for professors is located on the ISU Directory.

Email Etiquette Standards

Email communication in college is standard practice. ISU email (ex: smitjohn@isu.edu) is the primary student communication tool. Most faculty, professional advisors, and other professionals at ISU expect email messages from students to be properly constructed, clear, complete, and respectful.

Some suggestions for email, developed in consultation with ISU faculty are:

  • Be Clear. Identify the email purpose with a helpful phrase in the subject line, and indicate the specific class (i.e. ECON 1100, section 03) of concern, since college instructors and faculty regularly teach multiple sections of the same course. Use complete, grammatically-correct sentences with appropriate punctuation and proper spelling.
  • Be Complete. Include a greeting and closing phrase. Students should include their name and Bengal ID in all email correspondence with faculty and instructors. Include all relevant details the receiver may need to know, in order, to quickly and easily respond to requests (e.g. major, class level, the course reference (CRN) numbers of courses where help is needed, the semester and year in question, phone number, etc.).
  • Be Respectful. If requesting an action, a favor, or a consideration, convey appreciation for the time, energy, and effort that will be expended to complete a request. Students should refer to the person as Dr., Professor, Mr., or Ms., rather than by their first name unless they have established a personal relationship. Faculty put a lot of time, effort, and passion into their subject material; be sure to recognize the potential insult in questions such as "Did I miss anything in class today?", "Is this information going to be on the exam?", "Can you quickly review the material we covered in class today?", or "Did I miss anything important?"
  • Be Informed. Review the course syllabus for the class prior to emailing instructors. Can the question be answered in the course syllabus? Does the instructor or professor have a statement in their syllabus that indicates their policy about such issues as attendance, homework, or testing? Faculty and instructors will rarely, if ever, deviate from policies stated on their syllabi. Student effort is better spent concentrating more fully on course expectations, than in asking instructors for exceptions to their policies.

Phone Messages

Many campus professionals including staff, faculty, and instructors do not have caller ID on their campus phones. When leaving a phone message - be clear and include:

  • Your name
  • Bengal ID
  • ISU email address
  • Phone number
  • The specific class section or CRN to help the instructor identify you from their many other students