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Study Skills

Embracing the role of student.

Students may wear lots of hats in their life outside of school: spouse, partner, parent, supervisor, employee, community leader. At NU it is important to embrace the role of learner and understand that your relationship with faculty is one of student and teacher. It can be hard at times to move back into the role of novice, especially if you have been tasked in a role of expert in other areas of your life. Embracing the role of student can help place you in a relationship with faculty that allows for you to learn from them and make your own journey towards expert.

How to address faculty.

All faculty at NU have a doctorate degree. This is an amazing opportunity for students to learn from people in their given field that have reached the pinnacle of expertise.

  • As such, students should address faculty as Dr. when communicating with them in any form (written and verbal).
  • Faculty may choose to have students address them by a shortened version of their full name (Dr. Tom, or Dr. P) but students should allow the faculty to tell them their preferred name. Students should not assume faculty are okay with being called by their first name.
  • At NU, we embrace diversity and recognize that our faculty and students represent a wide range of lived experiences and identities. Therefore, it is important not to assume a faculty member may identify as a female or a male, nor to assume that they are married or unmarried. So terms like Miss or Mrs. are inappropriate, just as Mr. is. Stay with Dr. and you will avoid inadvertently offending your faculty member

Email communication.

  • Email is the primary communication we use here at NU.
  • All students should have an NU email address and should use it as their means of communicating with any faculty or staff.
  • Emails are considered professional communication when directed at faculty and staff and should have the following format:
    • Subject line indicating the course you are in and the issue you wish to discuss (avoid subjects like “hey Dr. P” or “Happy Holidays” as these can easily be overlooked by a faculty member.
    • Greeting- Hello Dr. Stevenson, or Good Day Dr. Rem.
    • Body of email- Clearly state the concern or question and ask for response from faculty if needed. Be sure to proofread all content, use punctuation and capitalization. Avoid slang or “text speak”.
    • Closing- “Thank you, I look forward to hearing from you” and your full name
  • Students may want to avoid typing emails on their phones as this can lead to typos and a more casual tone in email than should be adopted for this kind of communication.
  • Avoid sending an email when you are upset.
    • Getting a poor grade or critical feedback can leave students feeling angry and disappointed.
    • Often this can lead to students wanting to send of an email that reflects their anger, this is never a good idea.
    • Remember that you cannot un-send an email and once it is out there, it can color the faculty member’s impression of you and your work.
    • Take time to reflect, breathe deeply and if you want to communicate, do so with a clear intent for clarification and guidance. Faculty members are first and foremost, human. They can make a mistake and if they do, they will correct it. 
  • Be aware of time lines for responses to email
    • Faculty have 48 hours to respond

Presence in web conferences or webinars.

Attending meetings live with faculty can be a rich learning experience.

Keep in mind the following guidelines for attending a meeting with a faculty member or an educational webinar:

  1. Dress appropriately for being on screen.
  2. Be in a quiet place where there are no distractions.
  3. Be mindful of what can be seen by others on webcam (avoid inappropriate material on camera).
  4. If attending a webinar, make sure you are on mute.

Commons presence.

  • The Commons is a great place to connect with other students, faculty and members of the NU community
  • Students should remember that faculty can read your posts so using the Commons to vent about a course or a faculty member is not appropriate
  • Much like email, once you post something in the Commons, it is out there and there is no getting it back. Think long and hard before you share something in that format.

Being Respectful.

In the end it is all about respect.

  • The culture of NU strives to be about respecting our students and their strengths and challenges.
  • We want to encourage students to approach faculty with that same culture of respect.
  • Faculty are there to guide students, help them achieve their goals and welcome them into the professional environment.
  • Students should be mindful that they may need faculty’s assistance in the future for recommendation letters for scholarships, internships, jobs or continuing educational opportunities.
  • As Maya Angelou stated “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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