Providing advice and support to students
Students should be encouraged to post enquiries and unit related questions on the discussion board inthe unit’s CloudDeakin site. This ensures students all have access to the same information. You should regularly encourage students to use the discussion boards for this purpose and advise them that they should only email unit chairs for personal matters (e.g. such as an enquiry related to special consideration)
Students will still often seek information, or make requests, via email. This can be problematic, particularly if someone is sick and the students do not get a response. Though you may receive an email at any time of the day or night, particularly around assessment due dates, there is no expectation from Deakin that academics will answer these emails out of working hours.
In fact, academics who do answer emails out of hours often increase the expectations of students who then want all academics to be as obliging.
Students should receive a response within two working days of the original email and for complex questions, you can always indicate in a quick response that you will follow up when possible. Ensure, however, that you do follow up. If their question is related to the unit content etc. and is not personal, your reply can be to advise them to post their question on a discussion board.*
*Note: If you follow this process directing student queries to the discussion boards, it is essential that you or one of your teaching team is regularly checking and responding to discussion board posts.
Student emails are often the most complained about aspects of teaching. Students make requests for information that has been stated in class, posted on CloudDeakin, sits in the Unit Guide, or is general knowledge. You will need to develop your own strategies to deal with this issue but some common solutions are:
- Create a FAQ document or page on your unit site to address common issues around assessment tasks.
- Use a specific Assessment discussion forum on the unit site to address any questions so the whole cohort can see the responses.
- Provide a short response indicating where a more detailed response can be found.
- Provide a short response but ask the student to see you after class or to call you at a particular time so that you can provide more information (and remind them that the information already exists).
- Copy and paste the information into the email and click ‘Send’.
- Ask the student to send you what they think the answer is and then provide feedback on what they send.
Unit Chairs must make themselves available for consultation with students and this is included in the workload allocation. Consultation times need to be advertised on the unit site for students. If your unit also includes Cloud students you will need to provide consultation opportunities via phone, email and/or Bb Collaborate. Appropriate times should be advertised to students via CloudDeakin and in the Unit Guide. If this responsibility will be shared with other members of the unit team, this will need to be included in the Casual Staff Plan.
General support services
At times students may contact you and raise personal problems that may directly or indirectly be related to their studies in your unit. Many academics feel ill-equipped to handle the range of problems students have. It is important that you are aware of the services available to students through the Division of Student Life or DUSA (the Deakin University Student Association) so that you can refer the students to a suitable support service.
These groups offer a range of professional services to students including:
- Child care and parent rooms
- Counselling for students
- Counselling (EAP) for staff
- Disability support
- Diversity and inclusion
- Financial Assistance
- Medical Centres
- Multifaith chaplains
- Student Advocacy (DUSA)
- Student Housing
- Career support through DeakinTALENT
Academic support services
On occasions students will want to discuss academic problems with teaching staff. You should provide support if the problem is an academic one that relates specifically to your unit. Otherwise, you may seek support from your Course Director, SSN, or refer the student to the many services offered by the University’s Division of Student Life. Services include:
- Referencing and Academic Integrity
- Support for new students
- Academic skills development
- Students helping students programs
- English language and communication
- IT support
For more information on how to refer your students to these services, view the Academic and Peer Support team blog to learn how they can work individually with students and/or collaboratively with staff on academic skills development to improve academic literacy at a unit level.