In-class Communication with Faculty Members

At the beginning of their journey at university, students often feel uncomfortable speaking with their professors or asking questions during class, especially in large classes. However, most academic staff appreciate it when students ask questions, as generally this is a sign that students follow the class attentively and are interested in the topic and try to understand the material.

One of the most frequent reasons why students don’t ask many questions during class is that they fear that their question may not be appropriate or that asking a basic question will be considered a waste of other students’ time. However, this should not be the case. There is not such a thing as a “silly” question. If you have not understood something during class, it is best to gather your courage and speak up. You will be surprised to find out that there are many other students who may be wondering the same thing but don’t have the courage to ask for clarification.  

Tips for asking questions during class:

  • > Ask your questions at the right time - The professor will usually inform you whether they accept questions during class or only at the end of it.
  • > Speak freely but respectfully – always be respectful of your professors, instructors, teaching assistants and fellow students even when they share opinions which may differ from yours.
  • > Try to ask brief and clear questions – you may need to express what you have understood and what you have not understood by summarizing or paraphrasing the words of your professor. Refrain from posing too long and confusing questions.
  • > Make sure you understand the answer – take time to comprehend the answer, if you still have difficulty understanding it, ask for additional clarification.
  • > Don’t be ashamed if the professor responds that he will answer your question individually after class – if your question is not fully related to the topic or requires an in-depth answer, then the academic member of staff may suggest to discuss it individually with you after class.
  • > Take notes to record the answer and any other information shared on the topic.
  • > Ask for suggestions for supplemental readings or resources that may help you understand the material better.
  • > Thank them for answering your questions.

If you still feel like you lack the courage to ask questions during class, you may also consider visiting the professor during their scheduled office hours or sending them an email. In case you have many questions or experience general difficulty following the course and understanding the material, it may be best to ask for an individual appointment.