Effective communication skills are a valuable asset in any scenario, especially between instructors and their students. Are the options for communication provided to your students the ones that best suit their needs? Learn what students say are their preferences and expectations compared to instructors’ trending habits.

Cengage Learning recently surveyed thousands of students and instructors about their preferences and habits for staying in contact outside of the classroom.

We asked instructors, “What options do you give your students in order to reach you?”

What options do you give your students to reach you

Naturally, nearly all responded with email as a primary option (99%). After office phone (83%) and office hours (79%), the next most frequently offered option is the classroom LMS (45%). Offered by 28% of instructors was mobile contact. Social media, home phone, and instant messaging ranked last at 14%, 12%, and 12%, respectively.

We asked students, “How do you prefer to contact your instructor?”

Students were asked to choose all that apply. Their top responses were email at 96% of students and visiting office hours at 36%.Students, how do you prefer to contact your instructor?

After these front-runners, a smaller percentage of students like to reach out via mobile (17%), via LMS (15%), and via their instructor’s office phone (15%). Less than 10% prefer instant message, social media, or the instructor’s home phone. And how long do students expect a response from their instructor to take?

Students' expected response time from their instructors

The largest percentage of college students, 39%, think 1-6 hours is most appropriate for response time. Students’ ability to complete their work can often depend on prompt responses to their questions; however, each instructor’s classroom dynamic is unique. What is most important is that expectations are communicated early on in class, ideally on the syllabus.

Is this time-frame of one to six hours reasonable for you as an instructor, given your workload and other responsibilities? Let us know in the comments below.