Jump to content

How to Respond to Rude Emails from a Student?


Recommended Posts

I have a student who has been consistently rude and confrontational since the beginning of the course. They claim to have read the syllabus but consistently ignore the rules and guidelines within the syllabus. (not citing correctly, using casual or inappropriate language in their assignments, not following the schedule.) I've given helpful feed back as to why their assignments are not receiving better grades and have told them three times at this point to cite in the correct format (on top of simple things such as indent your paragraphs, etc.). Their emails are overtly rude and aggressive, rife with entitlement. It's a fairly small class and this is the only student to have any complaint. Up to this point, I've responded with clear references to the syllabus but their gradual failure seems to fuel their aggression. 

The first aggressive email I received was an epic on how this class was "nothing like all the other online classes" they had taken and that they were confused. Everyone seemed to understand the format of the class but them but this student argued at me on how the class was set up wrong (it wasn't). 

The last email I have received was beyond rude. One of their essays was exceptionally bad, riddled with grammar mistakes, no correct manner of citation was used, and they seemed to be purposefully placed (their other assignments were decent) and I ended up giving them a failing grade on the assignment. After this, the student stopped doing their assignments and sent an email saying...

"Critical thinking is an important factor in my college experience...I am not being asked to do this in this class. I am being asked to write summary's and mind my grammar. I signed up for this class thinking that theories and interpretations would be discussed with students and intelligent discussion would be had. I was wrong." 

This is a summary and edited version of the email but you can see where the aggression lies. I have a strong feeling this student has been bullying their professors for As. They told me early on that they want to go to grad school and that they need a good GPA which I was very considerate to in the beginning. With the poor quality of their work, lack of understanding and attention to guidelines, I have a hard time understanding how this student has the GPA they have. 

What is this and how do I respond? I'm tempted to ignore the entire matter because I've warned them numerous times of their errors and they are pressuring me to their idea of the class. The class is entirely online, no lectures, and is extremely simple. There are no extreme expectations to fulfill because it is a lower level course that requires certain basic checkpoints (which they are mowing over completely). 

Any advise is wonderful. Thanks

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Prof.SB said:

I have a student who has been consistently rude and confrontational since the beginning of the course. They claim to have read the syllabus but consistently ignore the rules and guidelines within the syllabus. (not citing correctly, using casual or inappropriate language in their assignments, not following the schedule.) I've given helpful feed back as to why their assignments are not receiving better grades and have told them three times at this point to cite in the correct format (on top of simple things such as indent your paragraphs, etc.). Their emails are overtly rude and aggressive, rife with entitlement. It's a fairly small class and this is the only student to have any complaint. Up to this point, I've responded with clear references to the syllabus but their gradual failure seems to fuel their aggression. 

The first aggressive email I received was an epic on how this class was "nothing like all the other online classes" they had taken and that they were confused. Everyone seemed to understand the format of the class but them but this student argued at me on how the class was set up wrong (it wasn't). 

The last email I have received was beyond rude. One of their essays was exceptionally bad, riddled with grammar mistakes, no correct manner of citation was used, and they seemed to be purposefully placed (their other assignments were decent) and I ended up giving them a failing grade on the assignment. After this, the student stopped doing their assignments and sent an email saying...

"Critical thinking is an important factor in my college experience...I am not being asked to do this in this class. I am being asked to write summary's and mind my grammar. I signed up for this class thinking that theories and interpretations would be discussed with students and intelligent discussion would be had. I was wrong." 

This is a summary and edited version of the email but you can see where the aggression lies. I have a strong feeling this student has been bullying their professors for As. They told me early on that they want to go to grad school and that they need a good GPA which I was very considerate to in the beginning. With the poor quality of their work, lack of understanding and attention to guidelines, I have a hard time understanding how this student has the GPA they have. 

What is this and how do I respond? I'm tempted to ignore the entire matter because I've warned them numerous times of their errors and they are pressuring me to their idea of the class. The class is entirely online, no lectures, and is extremely simple. There are no extreme expectations to fulfill because it is a lower level course that requires certain basic checkpoints (which they are mowing over completely). 

Any advise is wonderful. Thanks

I was only an adjunct for 1 year a couple years ago, but I've have 1 or 2 unnecessarily rude students. Others might disagree with me on this, but my opinion is stick to your standard of expectations for students while being beyond kind to all of them, especially the rude ones. Remember email is a paper trail. Not that I think you would do otherwise, but always calm down before responding and respond in a way where you won't be embarrassed if your colleagues or superiors read your responses. 

This semester is tough because everything is online, but if you have the time, I would go out of my way to offer opportunities for this student, and of course other students, to meet with you one-on-one, maybe via zoom, so you can work on their next paper together or go over what was wrong in this one. Maybe even suggest a writing center appointment or  organize a class where students workshop their papers with their peers (sometimes seeing a better paper or getting criticism from their own peers shakes them up). 

I don't think this means you need to be a pushover or anything. You can let them know that this is what is expected in YOUR class and this is what's expected at University. The point is to get students to the level they need to be at (In the most professional way possible). Use your corporate email voice. Lol

Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Cryss said:

I was only an adjunct for 1 year a couple years ago, but I've have 1 or 2 unnecessarily rude students. Others might disagree with me on this, but my opinion is stick to your standard of expectations for students while being beyond kind to all of them, especially the rude ones. Remember email is a paper trail. Not that I think you would do otherwise, but always calm down before responding and respond in a way where you won't be embarrassed if your colleagues or superiors read your responses. 

This semester is tough because everything is online, but if you have the time, I would go out of my way to offer opportunities for this student, and of course other students, to meet with you one-on-one, maybe via zoom, so you can work on their next paper together or go over what was wrong in this one. Maybe even suggest a writing center appointment or  organize a class where students workshop their papers with their peers (sometimes seeing a better paper or getting criticism from their own peers shakes them up). 

I don't think this means you need to be a pushover or anything. You can let them know that this is what is expected in YOUR class and this is what's expected at University. The point is to get students to the level they need to be at (In the most professional way possible). Use your corporate email voice. Lol

These are great ideas, thank you. A workshop sounds like a wonderful option! 

I definitely agree. You're right that it's been a very difficult time for students this semester and I've given many extensions and offered resources such as the writing center all while trying to keep the integrity of the goals and requirements. This may be proving too much for some people under a lot of stress.

And yes, always have the corporate response ready!

Thank you

Link to post
Share on other sites

CC your chair/DUS or keep them somehow in the loop. Protect yourself and anticipate this person is going to fight you tooth an nail. 

Also, you cannot learn critical thinking without writing clearly. If you cannot summarize (A basic skill) you cannot synthesize, compare, assess, or evaluate. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

The student's response is probably functioning in helping them feel less inadequate.  If they can make it your fault, then they don't have to feel inadequate and muster up the effort to improve.  It's not about you.  They're just looking for a way out of their poor performance.

That being said, I also don't see anything "aggressive" in the examples you provided, even though you've used that word a few times.  If a student is truly being aggressive, then you must set firm limits and communicate expectations very clearly (e.g., refuse to engage until they can be appropriate).  If instead they're just being entitled and haughty, then you can just maintain your standards and show them what they need to do to measure up.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would also recommend keeping a log of this student's assignments, rationale for your grading, emails, and your responses. That way if you need a paper trail down the road - for a grade appeal for example - you'll have it ready to go. I would also encourage them to visit your office hours, so you can clarify any confusion they have about the course. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.