Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sometimes Little Things Are Worse Than Big Things. From ELS.

3 students sent me rough drafts of projects for "review" after 11 pm on Friday.

In the 18 hours since, two have emailed again saying, "Did you get my draft?" and the other person has simply resent it. Twice.

-Eating Low Salt


  1. I can just see your RMP entry now, ELS.
    The "un" prefix features heavily, as in "unhelpful, unavailable, and multiple e-mails unanswered.
    They'll probably also mention that they know you weren't in class when they reached out for your help.

  2. Now that I am a bulletproof full Professor, when I answer those e-mails on Monday, I do students who do this a favor by pointing out that bosses, clients, and customers in the real world won't like this. One reason is that they normally only check e-mail during normal working hours. (That's 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.) Another is that, because of this, repeatedly sending e-mail late on a Friday night (when many people have other things to do) makes you look overly excitable. That doesn't look good: much better would be to present a "steady" image. Anytime anything unflattering turns up on the-site-that-shall-not-be-named, I e-mail them and point out "THIS IS LIBELOUS," because it invariably is, and usually it's gone within 24 hours.

    1. I sure wish all faculty could do this, without fear of reprisals. Many students would get a much better education that way.

  3. I will not lie: sometimes emails don't make it, or take a few days to arrive. This is rare, but if your institution is under a Denial Of Service attack, it will be quite unrare. For important emails and files like this I reply with a confirmation.

    If they received said reply and still engage in this behavior, then I tease them.

  4. I don't generally offer review via email, for the simple reason that the ratio of student effort to my effort is too low. After they've come to (or skyped into) a conference, I do offer to answer specific follow-up questions, either on short passages pasted into the body of a message or posed in marginal comments in a Word file. This seems to work, at least in terms of reducing the number of "here's my current draft; how's it looking now?" emails, usually sent within 12 hours of the final deadline.

    Of course, this means I spend a lot of time in conferences, and wouldn't work anywhere near as well for a class with several major papers (I have one, with a lot of preparatory low-stakes assignments leading up to it. This may or may not be the best approach to the class I teach, but it's the one I've found I can manage in the context of my load).