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Steps to Talking with Faculty

Steps to Talking with Faculty

As advisors we often encourage students to approach their instructors first.

We realize that talking with a faculty member can seem intimidating - especially for freshmen. Even continuing students can feel uncomfortable. It is difficult to approach someone who holds the assignment of your grade in their hand. You worry about possible repercussions.

The guidelines below appeared in a National On-Campus Report article called," Helping New Students Make the Most of Meetings with Faculty," (1993). We trust you find the information beneficial to you.

  • Step 1: Make an appointment.
    • Review the syllabus for your instructor's office hours. Go to his or her office during those hours.
    • If you're uncertain of your instructor's office hours, ask for them.
    • If your schedule conflicts with the office hours, tell your instructor why you can't make the scheduled office hours. Then tell him/her about your specific concern.
    • Set up a specific time to meet with your instructor. Be sure to indicate the amount of time you think you'll need.
  • Step 2: Establish rapport.
    • Be on time for your appointment.
    • When you arrive be pleasant, smile, introduce yourself again (include your name and class), and shake hands if appropriate.
  • Step 3: Present your concern.
    • Focus on the specific questions you've identified as problematic.
    • Have your question(s) or problem(s) written out so that the instructor can see where your difficulties are.
  • Step 4: Provide background information.
    • Briefly tell your instructor about your high school background and preparation for the course - if relevant to solving the problem.
    • Explain the study strategies you've used to understand the material.
  • Step 5: Redirect for clarification.
    • If the instructor's explanation isn't clear, redirect his/her attention to the specific point where you became confused.
    • "Talk through" your problem so that the instructor hears your reasoning.
  • Step 6: Summarize resolution of the problem.
    • "I was missing this step in...I need to apply this formula..."
  • Step 7: Thank your instructor.
    • And ask to come back if necessary.