I tell you what to do


Background from Instructor: I send a weekly email reminder to students in my large online class. I feel it is a way to help students keep on track and to let them know I am there.  The email is always labeled, “Reminder for the upcoming week.” I received this email from a student.

Email from Student: Please remove me from your reminder list. These emails are more of a nuisance than a helpful aid. I don’t need my professor writing to me.

I replied to the student, telling her she is free to delete or ignore my weekly email reminders.



Background from Instructor: The final paper has been assigned since day one of the Fall semester. Drafts were due at different points in the semester, and the deadline for the final paper was set for the last class.

Email from student: I have been working diligently to complete my final paper although I still have work to do. I am about to head home for semester break to celebrate the holidays with family and was wondering if I could get an extension for my final paper. I will have it submitted to you no later than New Year’s Day (or shortly after). 

A Crowbar?


Background from Instructor: I got an email from a student asking where they could find the reading on A Crowbar. It took me a few seconds but then I realized that they meant Alfred Louis Kroeber, an important anthropologist and Ursula K. Le Guin’s dad!

Email from student:  Where do I find the reading by A Crowbar?

Grades are final?


Background from Instructor: It’s his third time taking Calculus with me….first two times he got a Low Pass, this time an F (with a 33 on the final exam. The mean was a 73). And my email to students announcing grades were posted said “Grades are final and based on the breakdown in the syllabus. Please don’t ask for extra credit or ways to improve your grade.”

Student’s email: I saw that final grades have been posted and I saw that I did not do well on the final. I know you said there were no extra credit opportunities, and not to ask if there was anything I could do to bring my grade up. I studied very hard for this final and it hurt me to see that I came up short. What can I do, if anything to bring my grade up, or will I have to prepare to take Calc I again. 

Do you have extra credit?


Background from Instructor: I wrote to a student who missed the first exam; he has not attended class, and is missing one of several assignments. I let him know I am concerned about his ability to pass the class and asked that he schedule a time to come in to take the first exam. As a side note: I have offered 10 different extra credit opportunities throughout the semester, and those deadlines for completion have passed. These were posted to our class folder, handed out at the start of the semester, and announced each week in class. Instead of scheduling a time to come in to take the first exam he missed (worth 30% of his grade)  he writes:

Email from Student: I realize I am way behind in the class. I am wondering if there is any extra credit I could do instead of having to go back and read and study for the first exam.

It’s Saturday night but I expect an answer


Background provided by Instructor: It is near the end of the semester and I emailed all students who have missing assignments, urging them to get those in for reduced points. One student emails on Saturday evening to say she is upset that she is doing so poorly. I explain she is missing three assignments, and that I have emailed her several times about these over the past month. She says she did them but I point out they have not been submitted and to email them to me. After several back and forth emails, I point out it is Saturday evening and I need to go. I suggest she submit the missing assignments for me to grade as late (she’s lucky I am willing to accept them) and if she wants to meet me to discuss things further, she can come by during office hours. She then replies again:

Email from student: I have things to do too, but I am very concerned about my grade and do not want to fail a class when I did the work and passed it in, and am not getting credit for it. I realize it is Saturday night but you are the instructor and you should be answering any emails from students no matter when. I know I have had all semester to deal with this, but I am just now looking at my grades since it is the end of the semester.

Very confused


Background provided by Instructor:Despite detailed instructions, I received this email from a student. It just makes me think: SAY WHAT?!?! How will our university look when this student enters the workplace? Geez.

Email from Student: I am so confused. I am not understanding if I need to find my group member’s post and reply to them for what they said in part 1 or part 2.What exactly do we suppose to discuss from part 1? Like do we suppose to find research on everything we responded to the questions with or just search things on the topics we responded to.

How dare you take off points because I didn’t do the paper!


Background provided by Instructor: I received this email from a student after the class ended when they checked their final grade (C). They lost points for never doing the final paper. They had received many reminder emails, including the opportunity to take an incomplete and send in the final paper later. Their decision to wait to read the assigned paperback in the last week is telling.

Email from student: I do not understand why I am being penalized a whole letter grade just for one paper. I understand that I signed up for this course but I have had work in the morning and baseball games every night and honestly do not have much time to read a book in a week. If there is anything else that I can do I will do it.

How dare you take off points for being late!


An instructor sent this email they received from a student:

Student’s email: Hey, im writing about my participation: like I said, I think its unfair to cut points just for being late, you didn’t even ask why? And I had a meeting with my advisor. I just want to pass this class and be done.

I’m on a cruise…back later


Background provided by Instructor: I taught a short online course that took place over three weeks between the semester break. All students were informed ahead of time that the course is a typical 15 week class condensed into just 3 weeks (15 days) and therefore requires daily attention and participation. While students were encouraged to work ahead, they were warned that falling behind would be problematic (“late assignments will not be accepted”).  After the first week, one student “disappeared” and did not respond to daily email inquiries for the entire second week. The student sent the following email. In addition, the student insisted I should accept that they essentially missed one-third of the class due to the family vacation and offer extensions for all missed work.

Student’s email: I would just like to apologize for how spotty I have been with assignments this past week. I have been on a Caribbean cruise with my family since Sunday, so I am doing the best I can. Thank you very much for your patients, it’s much appreciated.

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