How to Effectively Communicate With Your Students

May 30, 2019 Kyle Moninger

Do you feel like you never have enough hours in a day? Or that your To Do list keeps getting longer and longer while the day grows shorter?  We live in a fast-paced world and a fast-paced academic environment so, it’s no wonder you may feel short on time.

Aside from the critical topics in the courses we teach, instructors spend a lot of time communicating “housekeeping” items to students. This includes any kind of organizational or administrative information –  reminders of when exams are, due dates for assignments, sharing information about a job fair or extracurricular opportunity, etc. Communicating this information is vital for student success and is a part of our job. However, there are ways  to efficiently communicate while  minimizing the time spent on such tasks.

How I Used to Communicate with My Students: Announcements at the End of Class

Pros: Simple and direct

  • This is a simple and direct way of communicating as you can write bullet points on the board and answer immediate questions in class.

Cons: Time Tradeoff

  • This used at least 5-10 minutes of class time. That meant it cut in to my lectures and class activities where we cover the actual course material.

Result: Ineffective Communication

  • I found that at the end of class, students were ready to go and packing up rather than being attentive to the announcements. It left me wondering how many had actually taken in what information I had just put out.
  • After class I was bombarded with student emails asking for clarification of what I had said in class. Questions like “I thought I heard you say we have a quiz on Friday. Is that true?”, or “What is the reading assignment for next week?”, etc. These kinds of emails would pile up and responding to them felt like a waste of time. I had already sacrificed precious class time to communicate this important information, yet I had to do it over and over again for students who had missed it the first time.

How I Now Communicate with My Students: Email & Digital Communication

All of my housekeeping announcements are sent electronically via email outside of class.

Pros: Additional Class Time & Reinforced Information

  • This allows me to devote 100% of class time to covering content and working with student questions over the material.

Cons: Students Won’t Read

  • An obvious criticism of emailing your announcements is the risk that students won’t read the email. However, if instructors can tailor their digital communications to a format that is efficient for students to read, this risk will diminish.

Result: More Effective Communication

  • I’ve found students are more receptive to the information as well. Because they have a copy of the information in their inbox, students don’t have to email me to repeat what I used to say in class.

So, How Do You Write an Effective Digital Announcement?

Our students live in a “scrolling environment”, meaning they simply scroll through vast amounts of information on their phones and computers, often skimming articles for the most eye-catching pieces. Therefore, we can’t assume that an announcement will be read entirely, word for word.

Writing your communication announcements in a “listicle” format – where key points are bulleted or numbered, and each section is titled and bolded – can better reach your students. This allows readers to gain the most information they can if they are simply skimming through the article. After all, that’s probably the same way you approached this article!

Since implementing efficiently crafted, digital announcements communicating with my students has become more effective and reduced the time spent on communication. It’s also allowed me to maximize my time in class for covering critical academic material.

About the Author

Kyle Moninger

Kyle B. Moninger instructs the Quantitative Business Curriculum at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. He teaches and plans undergraduate courses in statistics and business calculus, serves on the Quantitative Business Curriculum committee, and supervises the college's math and stats tutoring center. Kyle has been a visiting instructor three times at Tianjin Polytechnic University in Tianjin, China, and was previously a data scientist at Owens Corning in Toledo, Ohio, where he designed and implemented a corporate training program on business intelligence and analytics.

More Content by Kyle Moninger
Previous Article
It's Not the Students - It's the Access
It's Not the Students - It's the Access

For some students, getting course materials can be challenging and set them behind for the rest of the seme...

Next Article
Break the Cycle of Classroom Hand-Holding. Teach Independence.
Break the Cycle of Classroom Hand-Holding. Teach Independence.

Creating a classroom that fosters accountability and equity can help lay a foundation of independence that ...