by Sue Tinnish

Dean, School of Hospitality Management

Our Stance

Expectations are desired behaviors or outcomes of students. Effectively setting expectations at the start of the quarter can have a huge impact on the success of your class. This section of the Teaching Toolbox shares some best practices on how to accomplish this.


Much of student behavior is opportunistic and undertaken in reaction to the gray area, ‘‘I can get away with it, so I will.’’  This underscores the importance of setting expectations.  Another interesting thing about expectations is that once developed, expectations tend to be self-fulfilling.  In “Seven Principles for Good Teaching in Undergraduate Education,” Chickering and Gamson point to the importance of establishing high expectations for all students—whether they are poorly prepared or highly motivated.  Some students will always exceed our expectations, but the majority will only aim as high as we set the target , so it is an instructor’s responsibility to set high standards from the start of the term.  The higher the expectations for someone, the more likely it is that this person will meet those expectations.

When setting expectations, they should be:

  • Reasonable and necessary.
  • Clear and understandable.
  • Consistent with instructional goals and student learning.
  • Consistent with Kendall College expectations.

Student Expectations

This is a list of possible expectations for your class:

  • Be on time or even early for class.  If you get distracted easily, choose to sit in the “T” zone of the room (front few rows or center) so you can see the professor and he/she can see you.
  • Be prepared and organized with a textbook(s) and tools for note taking.
  • Go to class! Kendall research on students indicates that 87% of students who attend class earn a “C” or better in the class.
  • Ask questions and communicate with your professor. Let him or her know if you don’t understand something.
  • Get to know someone in class to allow you to borrow notes or study with.
  • Turn off your cell phone.
  • Don’t text or surf the web during class (unless it’s part of the class).
  • Complete assignments and take tests on time.
  • Determine what to learn and know how to study using your own learning styles.

  • Use effective textbook reading skills to learn content, take effective notes and study them regularly, create their own study guides, and generate questions/answers from varying perspectives.
  • Possess library and internet research skills.
  • Monitor your own performance
  • Seek background information/supplementary resources.
  • Study 2-3 hours for each one hour of class time



Here are hints to help your students meet your expectations:

  • Expect quality, demanding work from the start of the quarter.  Avoid the temptation to “ease” into the quarter; this sets the pace for what you expect during the entire term.  
  • Define relationships and establish boundaries right away.  Greg Siering, Director of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning at Indiana University writes, “Students sometimes have problems distinguishing between our multiple roles as teachers, not understanding we often have to be both the supportive guide and eventual gatekeeper.  We will have to issue grades and hold them accountable for their work… no matter how collegial we may appear.”
  • Offer guidance to students about how much time weekly readings, activities, and assignments will take to complete
  • Adopt a “No Opt Out” policy.  In other words, it’s not acceptable to not to try.  Students commonly use this approach when the student is unwilling to try, lacks knowledge, or a combination of the two.  When called on in class, and students reply “I don’t know,” it serves as the perfect answer to work/thinking avoidance.  When confronted with “I don’t know,” offer a hint that offers additional useful information to the student in a way that pushes him or her to follow the correct thinking process.  
  • Establish the types of thinking required for the course.  Practice analysis, synthesis, or application or at least their component parts.  Don’t emphasize memorization of information, only to require more complex types of thinking later in the class.
  • Ask for evidence.  By asking students to describe evidence that supports their conclusion, you stress the process of building and supporting sound arguments, where right answers are not so clear. You also give yourself grounds to avoid reinforcing poor but subjective interpretations, a task that is often challenging for teachers. 
  • Don’t suggest that content is boring.  In the hands of a great teacher no content will be boring.  Don’t apologize or water it down by saying “You may not find this all that interesting,” or “I know this is kind of dull. Let’s just try to get through it.”  You undercut the value of a course or your teaching by apologizing for boring content.
  • Make material accessible even if it is difficult.  Use phrases like:
  • Students tend to believe and respect the evaluations that teachers make of them.  Be thoughtful in your feedback and evaluations.

And a few questions to ask yourself:

  • "Have I set high expectations for my students today—both in terms of behaviors and cognitive tasks?"
  • "Have I given them the support they need to reach those expectations??
  • "Did I provide feedback along the way to reinforce good intellectual habits and correct ineffective ones?"

Instructor Expectations

  • Instructors should be responsive to students' inquires.  Publish office hours in the class syllabus.
  • Return students' grades in a timely matter to ensure that feedback helps with their future coursework.
  • Supplement the course's basic content with current and external resources such as articles, websites, and videos. These help reveal core concepts in real world settings, and demonstrate the importance of the class.

In addition to the above expectations, online faculty also need to consider the following:

  • Pay extra time and attention to the tone relayed to students in an online format.
  • Share expertise through interactions in class's discussion forum, in grading feedback, and in general announcements.
  • Share navigational tips and tricks about BB with students to ensure they are prepared to learn in an online classroom.
  • Create opportunities for synchronous communication, including live chat or live video sessions, will only help you gain credibility and respect in your students eyes. 

Sapna Mangal, Associate Professor in the School of Hospitality, shares tips for setting expectations in online classes.


Chickering, Arthur W., and Zelda F. Gamson.  (1987). “Seven Principles for Good Teaching in Undergraduate Education.”  The American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, March 1987. (A digital copy can be found here.)

Lemov, D.  (2010). Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College.  Chapter 1 Setting High Academic Expectations. New York:  John Wiley & Sons.  Retrieved from

Project Ideal.  (n.d.).  Developing Classroom Expectations: What Are the Expectations for How the Students and the Teacher Treat Each Other?  Retrieved from

Siering, G.  (September 2011.).  Setting High Expectations.  Retrieved from