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How Do I Know What Instructors Expect?

This could be the most important question of all, since faculty have different teaching styles, learning objectives and expectations. Instructors want you to succeed, but you need to figure out what each of your instructors expects and use that information to earn the grade you want. Identify the best way to prepare for and participate in each specific class—all faculty like to feel students are listening and responding. Participating in class discussions and raising questions also helps you to be recognized as a serious student.

Early in the semester, ask and answer these questions for yourself:

• Does the instructor review reading assignments at the beginning of class or routinely rely on them during lectures? If so, you'd best do the reading beforehand.

• Is class attendance required? If it is, then it’s vital to arrive on time for every session. Even if attendance is not required, regularly showing up for class will make it that much easier for you to pass the course.

• Do exams cover assigned readings or do they focus on material presented in class? Speaking about one of his classes, one of the students interviewed noted, "...the teacher basically summarizes the readings in class. It's an open-note midterm where you can use the readings...so I figure I can leave the reading for this class, but [in another class] I can't afford really to miss any of the readings." Remember, however, that assigned readings not discussed in class may still be addressed by exam or quiz questions.

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