Student Expectations

In her book Customer Service: A Practical Approach, 2e, Elaine K. Harris of Tulsa Junior College cites a survey in which school administrators and faculty were asked to identify the expectations their students had of the institution. They cited the following:

  • Grades with little effort;
  • Extra assistance with enrollment;
  • Short class meetings;
  • No outside reading assignments;
  • More parking.

In the same survey, students were asked to cite their expectations of the institution. These included:

  • Positive environment that encouraged learning;
  • Transferable classes;
  • Instructors who knew their names and cared about them as individuals;
  • Safety in the parking lots and campus buildings;
  • More parking.

The faculty and administration were correct about the parking problem - but little else! This survey supports additional studies that have found the following more detailed findings of student expectations:

  • Assignments that are reasonable in quantity and quality, and that are clearly and consistently communicated by professors;

  • Sensitivity to the diverse demands on students' time, and reasonable flexibility by faculty in accommodating such time demands;

  • Effective use of class time, i.e. not shorter classes, but richer classes;

  • A classroom environment that values students' input, and protects their dignity;

  • Examinations and assignments that address issues that were fully addressed and clarified in class, are appropriate to the students' intellectual level, are punctually scored and returned, and are used fairly to determine final course grades;

  • A classroom environment that exhibits humor and spontaneity.

Theorists have long expressed the key role of expectations in motivation. When students' expectations of a class and professor turn out to match their learning goals, and those goals are perceived as attainable without unreasonable obstacles, they will tend to be highly motivated to achieve.

Have you clarified your expectations of students lately?

Shop on line at or Barnes & Noble to get your copy of Dr. Lyons' book, The Adjunct Professor's Guide to Success: Surviving and Thriving in the College Classroom.

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