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No return call or email from professor WWYD


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12 minutes ago, Soror said:

Dh is very stuck on some labs. It is going on a week sent he sent him an email. A few days ago he tried to reach him in office hours. No return of any kind.  He is beyond frustrated.

Send one more email. Say if you don’t hear back, you are calling the department bc you are concerned something is wrong.

if you don’t hear within the hour:

Call the department. Ask to talk to the chair.

Tell the chair your concerns

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Email again, and call the department office to ask if there's anything going on or if they have an alternate way of contacting the instructor.
Escalate to dept chair only after this is unsuccessful.

ETA: Was the prof not in his office during announced office hours, or is this virtual?

Edited by regentrude
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A lot of profs that I knew were terrible about answering email - if they didn't answer it promptly, it got buried.  I'd write again, and try both writing and calling.  If there is any online platform (Canvas, etc) try messaging there, too.  He might also try connecting with other students through an online platform or email - they might respond more quickly.  I wouldn't give the prof an hour to respond - most faculty are not sitting at a computer all day and they are often in meetings that last more than an hour - if they are teaching a lab, they are out of the office for 3 hrs in a row.  If repeated attempts to email or call or stop by or whatever approach is appropriate don't get a response, then you might consider going to somebody else.  If it's a lab with multiple sections, there may be a lab coordinator or course coordinator who could help.  

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11 minutes ago, pinball said:

Send one more email. Say if you don’t hear back, you are calling the department bc you are concerned something is wrong.

if you don’t hear within the hour:

Call the department. Ask to talk to the chair.

Tell the chair your concerns

The bolded is completely unreasonable.
You need to give at least 24 hours.

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This class is part in person and part online. He's not mentioned any online message forum for this class. He has had a lab class but I don't think he has contacts from any of the other students because I mentioned that. The labs were individual. He is really freaking out as this is an accelerated course and the work is piling up. He said he will call again today. I don't know if the professor wasn't there during office hours the other day or just didn't answer.

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30 minutes ago, Soror said:

Dh is very stuck on some labs. It is going on a week sent he sent him an email. A few days ago he tried to reach him in office hours. No return of any kind.  He is beyond frustrated.

 

11 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Email again, and call the department office to ask if there's anything going on or if they have an alternate way of contacting the instructor.
Escalate to dept chair only after this is unsuccessful.

ETA: Was the prof not in his office during announced office hours, or is this virtual?

looks like that was tried

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Just now, pinball said:

They haven’t heard from prof in a week.

time is of the essence, esp in summer.

it’s already been multiple DAYS

That means the email has probably been buried under a mountain of other email.
As Clemsondana explained above, professors don't sit in front of the computer all day. Giving a one hour ultimatum accomplishes nothing.

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If the professor was working with another student (in person or on the phone) during the office hours at the time the phone rang, they probably wouldn't answer with the thought that the person would call back.  I get how frustrating it is to be waiting for help - trying every other day by email, moving on to daily, and calling a couple of times a day until you get an answer is perfectly reasonable.  Most department heads are not going to be very sympathetic to sending one email and trying to call one time over a week, and will not find it reasonable to expect a response within the hour if those 2 attempts at contact are all that has happened in the previous week.  It's a balance - students don't want to be annoying by sending repeated questions, but profs are human and may be teaching hundreds of students, thus dealing with hundreds of emails a day.  It's not shocking that one could slip through the cracks.  

When i was in school our TAs would encourage us to collect the phone number or email address of 2 students so that we had somebody that we could contact if we ran into a problem.  I doubt that they do this any more, but it might be helpful for somebody so I t hought I'd share.  

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24 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Can he ask during the in-person portion? Or is that too infrequent?

It is only every other week and won't be again until next Wednesday at which time he will then have 2 more very long labs to get done before the final.

My understanding is that is when he was physically in his office. We are 1.5 hrs away so it is not feasible for dh to drive there for hours when he may or may not be there. I'd expect him to return messages from that time.

 

Edited by Soror
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1 minute ago, Soror said:

Dh has emailed 3 times and left 2 messages on voice mail. Tried several more times to call and see if he could reach him. He is at the point he is thinking he will have to drop it.

3 unanswered emails? Not ok. ( I wouldn't expect answers to voicemail though, and I would not expect anyone to answer the phone - the prof may only come in to teach and not actually be in the office.)

I suggest he call the department office, and if there is no explanation ( instructor sick, wrong contact info, etc)  contact the chair.

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43 minutes ago, regentrude said:

3 unanswered emails? Not ok. ( I wouldn't expect answers to voicemail though, and I would not expect anyone to answer the phone - the prof may only come in to teach and not actually be in the office.)

I suggest he call the department office, and if there is no explanation ( instructor sick, wrong contact info, etc)  contact the chair.

He gives his number and office hours as a time you can reach him for help. It is very crappy to then not answer the phone or voice mails, one shouldn't give contact info and times if they arent' going to answer them. 

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16 minutes ago, Soror said:

He gives his number and office hours as a time you can reach him for help. It is very crappy to then not answer the phone or voice mails, one shouldn't give contact info and times if they arent' going to answer them. 

Agreed. If he specifically announces phone office hours, he should be there. Definitely call the dept office to figure out what's going on! (could be as simple as him having a typo in the phone no)

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Is your husband using the email address given to him by the school or his personal email?  Sometimes professors/schools have a policy that all correspondence must be using the school email addresses.  I've not had stuff answered when I've forgotten and used the wrong address.  To be clear, I'm talking about my own student email address and not the professor's address.

It's also important to check the syllabus and any other directions for how the professor wants emails formatted.  Sometimes they have an automatic sorting system that will get thwarted when the title of the email doesn't conform properly and then it can wind up in a spot where it isn't seen.  If there are no instructions, I recommend something like "CHEM 101 [section number] Question about Lab 3."  

Also check to be sure that the professor's preferred method of contact is by email.  Some like email, some like the messaging feature in Canvas (or Blackboard or whatever).

Also, be sure that all of the information that the professor needs to answer the question is in the body of the email/message.  So, if the wording of instructions is confusing (for example), include a screenshot of the exact thing and then ask a specific question about it.  Don't ask something like "What do you mean in step 3?"  The idea here is that you want the professor to be able to deal with the question in the email without having to dig around for information or to try to figure out what the specific issue is--which will make it more likely that the question will get answered quickly (and at all).  My experience with online coursework (which is extensive) is that many professors are hazy (at best) about the documents provided in their own courses--including their own syllabuses.  The times I've actually learned the reason for this, it has been because they have inherited the course from someone else.

As far as how long to wait--I usually wait 48 hours and then send another email/message.  

Edited by EKS
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Are there any TAs assigned to help for lab issues in his course?
 

I have a computer science lecturer who doesn’t answer emails usually. However it was stated in his introduction and in the syllabus that there are two TAs assigned to the course and the contact details of the TAs were stated. 
I have another computer science lecturer who is fast replying emails and slightly slower with discussion board queries. However lab issues that require hand holding to troubleshoot are done by TAs. 

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On 6/11/2021 at 7:14 AM, pinball said:

Send one more email. Say if you don’t hear back, you are calling the department bc you are concerned something is wrong.

if you don’t hear within the hour:

Call the department. Ask to talk to the chair.

 

 

On 6/11/2021 at 7:29 AM, pinball said:

They haven’t heard from prof in a week.

time is of the essence, esp in summer.

it’s already been multiple DAYS

It's still unreasonable to expect someone to contact you within a completely random hour. People don't check their email each and every hour. 

OP, the prof is definitely in the wrong here, or something has happened. dh should sit down right now and document the times he has tried to make contact, it might be helpful. 

Depending on how important it is to finish this class this summer, and how the expense compares to dropping and taking the class again, I'd consider plunking out some money for an online tutor. And then getting contact info for classmates ASAP. 

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7 minutes ago, katilac said:

 

It's still unreasonable to expect someone to contact you within a completely random hour. People don't check their email each and every hour. 

OP, the prof is definitely in the wrong here, or something has happened. dh should sit down right now and document the times he has tried to make contact, it might be helpful. 

Depending on how important it is to finish this class this summer, and how the expense compares to dropping and taking the class again, I'd consider plunking out some money for an online tutor. And then getting contact info for classmates ASAP. 

It was also Friday morning and the weekend was coming with a very unlikely chance of getting ahold of anyone in the department as the day went on.

it wasn’t...call and threaten and give them an hour...

it was...call and then if you don’t hear in an hour, move on to the next step, since you already have taken appropriate and reasonable steps and still haven’t heard back.

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On 6/11/2021 at 7:40 AM, Clemsondana said:

If the professor was working with another student (in person or on the phone) during the office hours at the time the phone rang, they probably wouldn't answer with the thought that the person would call back.  I get how frustrating it is to be waiting for help - trying every other day by email, moving on to daily, and calling a couple of times a day until you get an answer is perfectly reasonable.  Most department heads are not going to be very sympathetic to sending one email and trying to call one time over a week, and will not find it reasonable to expect a response within the hour if those 2 attempts at contact are all that has happened in the previous week.  It's a balance - students don't want to be annoying by sending repeated questions, but profs are human and may be teaching hundreds of students, thus dealing with hundreds of emails a day.  It's not shocking that one could slip through the cracks.  

When i was in school our TAs would encourage us to collect the phone number or email address of 2 students so that we had somebody that we could contact if we ran into a problem.  I doubt that they do this any more, but it might be helpful for somebody so I t hought I'd share.  

Yes, I have had many times I am working with one student, or I am on a call with a student, when a student calls during office hours.  I would expect the student who gets my voice mail to leave a message.   

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On 6/11/2021 at 9:39 AM, EKS said:

Is your husband using the email address given to him by the school or his personal email?  Sometimes professors/schools have a policy that all correspondence must be using the school email addresses.  I've not had stuff answered when I've forgotten and used the wrong address.  To be clear, I'm talking about my own student email address and not the professor's address.

It's also important to check the syllabus and any other directions for how the professor wants emails formatted.  Sometimes they have an automatic sorting system that will get thwarted when the title of the email doesn't conform properly and then it can wind up in a spot where it isn't seen.  If there are no instructions, I recommend something like "CHEM 101 [section number] Question about Lab 3."  

Also check to be sure that the professor's preferred method of contact is by email.  Some like email, some like the messaging feature in Canvas (or Blackboard or whatever).

Also, be sure that all of the information that the professor needs to answer the question is in the body of the email/message.  So, if the wording of instructions is confusing (for example), include a screenshot of the exact thing and then ask a specific question about it.  Don't ask something like "What do you mean in step 3?"  The idea here is that you want the professor to be able to deal with the question in the email without having to dig around for information or to try to figure out what the specific issue is--which will make it more likely that the question will get answered quickly (and at all).  My experience with online coursework (which is extensive) is that many professors are hazy (at best) about the documents provided in their own courses--including their own syllabuses.  The times I've actually learned the reason for this, it has been because they have inherited the course from someone else.

As far as how long to wait--I usually wait 48 hours and then send another email/message.  

This is all good advice.  I have had students use a non-university email to try to reach me and it has been blocked by an aggressive university spam filter.  DS went to the university where I teach and is email is very similar to my university email--students would start typing an email address and autofill options would come up and they would click what looked similar to my email, but it was really my son's email;  so the email would go to DS and not to me.  It is difficult to know if an email did actually reach the intended party.

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On 6/11/2021 at 7:15 AM, HomeAgain said:

I'm having similar.  My next step is to email the professor with the guidance counselor cc'd.  It's a tip to CYA another professor gave us if we ever had an absence or issue beyond our control.

I am curious what guidance counselor would you copy when emailing a college professor?  Is this referring to a high school student doing a dual-enrollment course?  At any college I have ever worked at, there would be no counselor that would be appropriate for a student to copy on an email to a professor regarding assignments in a course or regarding the professor's response time to such inquiries.  The department chair (or dean) would be the appropriate chain of command.

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1 minute ago, Bootsie said:

I am curious what guidance counselor would you copy when emailing a college professor?  Is this referring to a high school student doing a dual-enrollment course?  At any college I have ever worked at, there would be no counselor that would be appropriate for a student to copy on an email to a professor regarding assignments in a course or regarding the professor's response time to such inquiries.  The department chair (or dean) would be the appropriate chain of command.

Actually, our community college does have guidance counselors and it is recommended to cc them.  They help with various aspects, most of which are non-relevant in this discussion. But, they're considered mediators when there's an issue with a professor if it escalates because they're supposed to be on the same email chain and have access to the back-and-forth.

It's a small college.  Often the professor I've had IS the department chair, but having someone 'outside the chain of command' that sees the bigger picture is a student's best bet for advocacy.  If it comes up to the dean, that outside-the-chain person is a non-partial witness, or one that has instructed a student throughout the process. 

It's good to know your experience is different. 
 

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