Response to Student Email


Ideas on the speed at which one should respond to student email

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We do not have a formal policy, but many of the faculty have started to adopt a policy that I initiated while I was in graduate school. In my syllabus I state, “Although I read my email throughout the day, do not expect an immediate response. Monday through Thursday, email sent by 7:00 AM will be replied to at 9:00 AM; email sent by 7:00 PM will be replied to at 9:00 PM. Email sent on by 3:00 PM on Friday will be replied to at 5:00 PM. During the weekends, email sent by 10:00 AM Saturday will be replied to at noon Saturday and email sent by 7:00 PM Sunday will be replied to at 9:00 PM Sunday.”

The actual times depend upon my schedule. Consistency is important. If you set-up a policy, you have to reply by whatever times you state. Make sure that you are able to check your emails at least fifteen minutes before your commitment time (i.e., 8:45 AM for the 9:00 AM time).

In essence, I have as one student termed it email hours. In actuality, I probably read my email as frequently as most other faculty, but I set an expectation. Students are delighted when they receive a reply sooner than two hours or outside of the times mentioned. Some are even thankful when I respond to an email at 11:00 PM the night before an assignment is due.