Student Guide: Questions to Ask Your Instructors

student with afro looking ahead

Asking your instructors questions will help you to navigate the writing process in college, and ultimately, find a voice that feels authentic to you.

In Class

You may want to ask these questions in the classroom so that other students can benefit from the instructor’s response. You can also ask these questions during office hours or one-on-one conferences.

  • What are your expectations for revision? What should that process look like?
  • What are your expectations for how we should use the feedback you give on our papers?
  • Can you give examples of what you mean by___(ex: grammar, mechanics, style, organization, effective communication, etc.)___? Once your instructor has provided writing or rubric criteria, ask questions to make sure you understand what the terms in the criteria refer to. These meanings will be different for different instructors.
  • How might a specific intended audience [name an audience if you have one in mind] impact our writing for this assignment?
  • I would like to use African American English organization/word choice/grammar/lexical items in this assignment in order to reach my intended audience/accomplish my purpose for writing. How will the use of African American English be considered in feedback/rubrics/grades?
  • Would I be penalized for the usage of passive voice? Passive Voice Example: “‘The house will be cleaned by me everyday’ instead of ‘I clean the house everyday’”. 

Office Hours and One-on-one Conferences

These questions are best reserved for one-on-one contexts where you’ll feel comfortable discussing your grades, rubric scores, and individual comments the instructor made on your paper.

  • I see I scored low in this area of the rubric. Reflecting back, I think I misinterpreted what this area of the rubric was looking for. I thought it meant___, which is why I wrote using___(ex: particular word choices, grammar patterns, organizational styles)___. What would be some examples of___(ex: word choices, grammar patterns, organizational styles)__that would score high on this area of the rubric?
  • If you’re required to say what type of feedback you would like: My goals for college and for after college are______. Considering my goals, what do you think is the most important area of writing/oral communication for me to focus on? See what your professor says and then request feedback on this area.
  • I see you made a lot of comments on ___(ex: grammar, punctuation, citation, etc.)__. This pattern/style is new to me. Can you explain how to use it or point me to some resources on this pattern/style?
  • I see that this part of my paper was __(ex: confusing, unclear, unreadable, unfocused)___. What I have written is how I would communicate this idea using my language patterns. What alternative language patterns would be better for communicating this idea to you or to my audience?
  • If I change the grammar/structure of this sentence, it will actually change the meaning for my intended audience. Do you have alternative suggestions?

For first drafts:

  • I see I scored low on this area of the rubric. Can you give some examples of how to improve in this area on my next draft?
  • How do you recommend I begin to use your feedback to revise?

For final versions:

  • I see I scored low in this area of the rubric. Can you give some examples of how to improve in this area on my next assignment?
  • How do you recommend I apply your feedback to my next paper?

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