Your Responsibilities in Class
Part of the purpose of your education and the training you receive in college is to teach you to
be an independent learner and thinker.
When you receive a college diploma,
it is expected that you have not only learned facts, but you have learned how to learn. In other words, you
are able to ask questions, find resources to help you learn the answers, and teach yourself new things. The first step in
doing this involves the following one idea:
"In college courses you are expected to take responsibility for your own learning."
In any class that you take in
college, it is expected you will do the following.
Student Responsibilities in College Classes
- Read the syllabus and understand course policies. If there is anything is the syllabus you don't understand, ask about it. The
syllabus is essentially a contract between the instructor and students explaining the course policies and detailing how your
final grade will be determined.
- Keep track of dates for homework and exams. Do not rely on the professor to remind you of upcoming
deadlines. You may want to get a good calendar and put the due dates from all your classes on it.
- Come to class. Missing class should be an incredibly rare occurrence. In addition, do not come late to class, and do not leave early.
Students who regularly miss class almost always receive a failing grade. Remember the following quote by Woody Allen:
"Eighty percent of success is showing up." Finally, if you miss class, do not ask your professor for a copy of their notes.
You should ask a classmate for their notes or read through the section of the book that was covered. It is your responsibility to get caught up.
- Follow directions. You need to follow any directions the professor gives, whether they are given verbally or in writing. If you do not,
it will affect your grade. If your homework is required to be turned in a certain way, or solutions must be written in a particular form,
or take-home exam is due at a certain time, then you have to follow these directions. Keep in minds that ignorance of the directions ---either by being absent, not
listening, or not reading--- is not an excuse. Not following directions is a sure way to lose points and puts you at risk for failing a course.
- Keep track of your grades. It is your responsibility to keep track of what scores you receive on homework, quizzes, exams, etc.
Almost every professor will describe in the syllabus how different parts of the course are weighted and how your final grade is calculated.
By keeping track of your scores, you can determine your current percentage in the class, or calculate how many points you need on
upcoming work to get a certain final grade. Do not treat your instructor like a secretary: It is not their job to look up
your scores for you whenever you ask, or to do basic calculations for you that you could do yourself.
- Go to office hours. If you are having difficulty in the course, you should go to
office hours and ask questions. You will be surprised how often this helps.
- Do the assignments in a timely manner. Whether it is assigned reading, homework problems to turn in, or exercises to do for practice,
you need to do the assignments and you need to do them in a timely manner. It is your job to practice using the concepts introduced in
class and keep up with the material so you do not fall behind.
- Ask questions about the material. Thinking is driven by questions, not answers. Ask for clarification on anything you do not understand, but
also learn to ask "good" questions. A good question defines tasks, expresses problems, and delineates issues. A good question
inspires you to answer it and then ask more questions. The first step in critical thinking is asking good questions.
- Identify misunderstanding or gaps in your knowledge. It is your job to assess your own performance and determine whether or not
you are learning the material adequately. If you are not, you need to practice the material more or ask for help. There
are many ways you can evaluate and improve your performance. When you do practice problems in homework, identify the
problems or types of problems you are having difficulty with and work more problems similar to those. When you get homework or exams back, look at the problems
you missed and see if you were given any feedback. Learn from your mistakes. Rework problems on homework or exams that
you missed and learn how to do them correctly. Identify the
concepts you are having trouble with, and formulate good questions about them that you can either answer yourself or ask the instructor about.
- Be polite and respectful of the professor and of other students. Never be rude or disrespectful towards your professor or other students.
Make sure that nothing you do interferes with another student's ability to learn.
- Accept responsibility for your grades and the consequences of your actions. Realize that most professors
grade fairly, and grade your work based on the quality of your performance. If you do poorly in a course,
resist the temptation to blame the professor. Instead, be accountable for your own performance.
Do not beg for more points after homework or exams are returned. Do not complain without justification
that the grading is not fair. If you do not study for exams or do not turn in
homework, do not ask for an opportunity to re-do those exams or homework. Do not ask for extra credit opportunities
that would apply only to you. If you are performing poorly throughout the semester, talk to your professor
about your performance and grade as soon as possible, rather than waiting until it is too late. After your final grade is
assigned, do not ask if it can be raised or if you can do extra work to earn more points.
This is a poster for middle school students.
Its message still applies in college.