First, the students' decision to ask you questions directly makes sense
if you consider their decision from their perspective.
As a student, would you rather spend 30 seconds
asking the lecturer a question directly;
or spend 10 minutes to read through the syllabus carefully
to find the answer to the question himself/herself?
By asking you questions directly,
the students are merely minimizing their effort
in order to get the information that they require.
You should consider whether the syllabus
is well-organized and clearly written.
If the syllabus is long and rambling,
it is understandable why the students prefer not to read it.
As a teacher,
I believe that it is your responsibility
to spend a reasonable effort
to organize course related information
so that it is easy for a student to understand.
I'm currently teaching a course with more than 600 students.
We seldom receive e-mail inquiries from students.
I believe the reason for this is that
I spent quite a bit of time thinking through
how to structure our course webpage
so that it is easy for students to find the information they need.
- We have a master page which contains
links to the pages on specific topics.
- We have a webpage which contains information
about the textbook for the course.
This webpage contains a table which indicates
which chapter and which pages of the textbook to read
for each lecture.
- We have a webpage which contains information about the quizzes.
This webpage explains clearly which lectures are tested for each quiz.
Finally, I would not answer any questions if
the answers are clearly written in a document
which has been given to the students.
if you have a short webpage or document which contains
all the information relevant say to Quiz 1,
and students ask you questions about Quiz 1,
I would just tell the students,
"Please read the Quiz 1 document carefully
for the answer to your question."