Student Nagging: Appropriateness, Effectiveness and Advice! (for college students)

Student Nagging: Appropriateness, Effectiveness and Advice! (for college students)

Nagging has become one of the most common ways for students to “get what they want” from teachers. Students feel that persistently nagging an instructor will somehow persuade them to change their minds or to rule in the students favor. But, is this form of persuasion appropriate or inappropriate? Is it effective?

by Kerri Revels


What is Student Nagging?

There has been many debates about student nagging and the effectiveness it has on an instructor. First, let’s start by defining student nagging. Nagging is conceptualize as “an exchange in which a person makes persistent, non-aggressive requests that contain the same content to a respondent who fails to comply.” In other words, persistently bothering a person to do something in your favor. For instructors, this is worrisome, painful and agonizing to deal with on a daily basis. Many students nag instructors for grade purposes. Only about 10-20% of college students have lower than a B in any class due to nagging. There are pros and cons to nagging. Surprisingly, nagging can make exactly what students want to happen, happen. Nagging is a power source too, students who nag more benefit from instructors more. Then on the other hand, nagging can cause frustration and can damage the relationship between the instructor and student beyond return.

How Nagging is Used…

There’s several techniques to nag an instructor, with some being more effective than others. Using personal information to gain sympathy is very common. Coming up with excuses like “my dog died”, or “I had a family emergency” to emotionally tie an instructor in and to buy the student more time for an assignment or to get rid of the assignment overall. Showing frustration with the instructor and the way they go about things is another way of nagging, “I don’t think its fair to give us a 10 page paper due in one week. That’s clearly not enough time!”. Bargaining with the instructor as a way to nag is very common as well, offering deals with the teacher hoping its sweet enough to win them over. Another way to nag is undermining the instructors intelligence, their inability to teach is why the students grade is suffering. Giving the instructor compliments as a way to flatter them is another way of nagging. Constantly trying to ‘butter up’ the instructor with things like ‘you look wonderful today’ or ‘I love that tie! Where’d you get it’. The final form of nagging is by using all the communication platforms given by the instructor to get in contact with them. For example, emailing a teacher about your grade, talking to them in person, calling them and visiting during office hours to constantly remind them of what you want them to do or change.

Let’s talk about appropriation..

Sit back and put yourself in the position of the instructor. How appropriate or inappropriate is it for students to continuously nag you about grades? Lets look at it from this perspective, an instructor goes into work everyday and teaches to the best of their abilities from that point students are supposed to take what they are taught, learn it, apply it and remember it. In a way its a business transaction, the instructors knowledge for a passing grade. How uncomfortable would you feel if your boss or a co-worker tried to come onto you or flirt with you to get you to do something they wanted you to do? Pretty uncomfortable, right? It’s the same concept with instructors, it’s inappropriate. Nagging can sometimes be acceptable though, in the instance a student has a family emergency or something completely utter and unexpected happens in their personal life and the student explains that to the instructor then there’s nothing wrong with that, right? It’s the same as if you needed time off of your job to grieve the loss of a family member. In that instance, you’d ‘nag’ your boss for that time off.

What’s the likelihood of nagging actually working?

In a study done by Dunleavy and Martin, it was found that all forms of nagging in fact does not always work with instructors. Surprising, it seems that giving teachers sympathetic and sob stories may elicit the best results. In other words, the old ‘my dog died’ trick might work better than telling an instructor that they suck at teaching. All in all, nagging should never be a go to strategy for raising grades. It does nothing but frustrate the instructor and make their jobs more difficult than they should be. With nagging becoming a resource for students, its becoming easier to just receive passing grades just because an instructor is tired of being nagged. THIS IS A PROBLEM!

Alternatives for students

The Best way to refrain from nagging is to actually try to do the work on your own, on time and to the best of your abilities. You’ll never get far in life if everything is handed to you on a silver platter just because you nagged your way to the top. Put fourth effort always, instructors are resources they’re there to service you, not to work for you! Take initiative, make something happen, encourage initiative, challenge yourself, generate small success and learn, learn, learn! 

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