“When I come home, I check my e-mail every day. I get on average of eight mails a day in both the Ewha Portal Information Service (EPIS) and the Cyber Campus. All the e-mails are from students asking questions,” said Professor Thomas Webster (English Program Office). “I think communicating with my students on e-mail is a really wonderful thing. It is another way to extend a class,” he added.
Likewise, many Ewha students prefer asking questions after class. According to a survey of 162 Ewha students conducted by the Ewha Voice, 92.6 percent of students preferred asking questions after class instead of during class. Among the responses, asking questions right after class constituted 43.2 percent, via Cyber Campus constituted 37.1 percent, and via e-mail constituted 12.3%. Only 7.4% of students answered that they usually ask questions during class.
Students who preferred to ask questions after class cited “being afraid of interrupting the class” as the main reason. This was followed by “being shy when asking questions in front of many students.” “Being worried that the questions they are asking may be already mentioned or sound silly” was another reason why students avoided asking questions in class.
Students who preferred to ask questions via e-mail or Cyber Campus, stated “convenience” as the most common reason. “I can contact professors whenever I have questions and can get an answer quite promptly,” says Kim Doori (Liberal Arts, 1). Another reason was that they can rephrase their questions as they have more time to contemplate what they want to ask.
The trend of students not asking questions in class may be because of the culture in which they are raised. “Most Koreans are raised to not stand out, but to be mediocre. This culture is also relevant to and is thought to have caused wangdda , a bullying culture in schools and workplaces because people dislike those who stand out,” said Professor Kwon Do-kyeong (Korean Literature).
Students in Western countries may have learned different modes of questioning compared with Koreans. “When I taught at a university in the United States, students were really critical about what they are learning and asked me whenever they had questions,” said Webster. According to Kate Hughes (
Taking a glimpse at other neighboring universities, some differences can be observed. “Most students generally ask questions to the professors right after class because the Cyber Campus of our school is not so active. However, some students ask questions during class, and most of them are male,” says Shin Young-soo (
Yun Ki-bong (Consumer Studies, 3), who is takng a class at Seoul National University (SNU) through the credit exchange program says, “ I was surprised that students at SNU were not afraid to speak up in class and discuss with the professor freely. Asking questions during class seems so natural to them.”
There are some efforts made by professors to encourage Ewha students to ask questions during class. Professor Namkung Gon (Political Science & Diplomacy) takes questions from students in class by reserving a certain time for questions after every theory he explains. “I listen to their questions as I hope to know how much students understood and to share questions and answers together,” he said. “I am sure that students can develop the ability to speak up by encouraging them to ask questions in class so that everyone can hear their questions,” he added.
By Kim A-hyun
By Kim A-hyun