CAPPS - Avocacy and Communication Professional Development

California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools

Please note our new location:
2520 Venture Oaks Way, Ste 170
Sacramento, CA 95833

Online Professor Pet Peeves


ABOUT.COM. Like traditional teachers, most online professors love interacting with their students. Whether through message boards, emails, or virtual chats, online professors and students often form a friendly working relationship that helps the course run more smoothly. But, there are some student behaviors that online instructors absolutely despise. Take a look at the 5 poisonous personality types below to make sure that you’re not accidentally provoking your online professors’ frustration.

Complainer Cathy – Complainer Cathy may be a straight A student, but she annoys the professor (and, often, the entire class) by constantly pointing out problems with the course. Was the learning management system down for an hour? Complainer Cathy points it out. Does the course require a 10 page paper instead of the 5-pagers she prefers? She complains. Did students lose an hour of potential study time in the Daylight Savings switch? You’d better believe you’ll hear about it. Smart students know the importance of bringing up legitimate problems that could impact their academic performance. But, not every issue is within the professor’s control. When problems do need to be addressed, it’s usually best to call or email the professor, rather than taking up everyone’s time in a class chatroom (just like students in traditional classroom situations usually make appointments to meet during the professor’s office hours rather than interrupting a lecture).

Last Minute Leroy – Even when they pretend otherwise, most professors know that their students aren’t going to start the end-of-semester research paper during the first week of the semester. However, professors are endlessly annoyed with students that cannot seem to give themselves enough time to actually finish their assignments. Online professors are often frustrated when students like Last Minute Leroy email them frantically at 11:45 p.m. demanding to know the assigned topic for the essay due at midnight. Like students, professors don’t always have access to email and they often resent the expectation to respond instantaneously to last minute questions any time of the day or night. Mildly irritating technology problems also become huge fiascos for last minute students. Almost everyone deals with malfunctioning computers or laptops, but these minor problems can make a student fail a course when he only gives himself a 2-minute window to submit an assignment.

Off-Topic O’Neil – Ideally, online message boards and chatrooms are a place for vibrant discussion about the class content. In most classes, it’s appropriate for students to share their own experiences that relate to the topic at hand and help move the conversation forward. However, professors and students alike get annoyed with chatters that continually derail focused conversations. Many discussion boards now have off-topic boards, especially designed for students like Off-Topic O’Neil that want a place to talk about football, the weather, and their backyard bbqs.

Talk-to-the-Boss Tim – During their college careers, almost every student encounters a legitimate problem in a course. Perhaps the professor has been unclear about expectations or has graded an assignment incorrectly. Generally, the best move is to always talk to the teacher first and work together to see how the situation can be resolved. Students like Talk-to-the-Boss Time go straight to the administration and are often disappointed with the results. Usually, these students are simply referred back to talk with the professor first and the professor feels frustrated (and may be even less likely to be helpful) because the student didn’t bother to inform him of the problem before going to his boss. Student should try to work it out with the professor and then go to his or her supervisors only when it is clearly impossible to resolve the situation. Of course, this doesn’t apply to major problems like professors that simply stop running the course, teach racism, etc.

Sloppy Sue – Turning in quality work lets professors know that you’re taking the course seriously. Turning in incorrect but carefully done work lets professors know that you care but need extra help. Turning in sloppy, jumbled work gives the impression that you don’t really care about a course and aren’t even trying. One mistake many first time online learners make is turning in sloppy assignments and assuming that online professors aren’t going to take the time to read their work. In turn, online professors are routinely mortified at the quality of work their freshman students submit. Like with traditional classes, students that care about their courses should take the time to read assignments carefully, give thought to answers, and proofread any work they submit.