I just stumbled across an article directly related to what we just discussed in class. Is it appropriate to email it to my professor? For some reason it feels improper and I don't want to look like a teacher's pet.
Yes, it's appropriate. No halfway reasonable instructor would hold this against you.
On the other hand, please don't be disappointed if your instructor doesn't respond contentfully to your email. Faculty are extremely busy and many get dozens of emails a day, so they have to prioritize which they can respond to. If you want to have further engagement on this topic, that's what office hours are for.
Yes, it's appropriate, but whether it's also useful depends on the context. Let me make an example.
In one of my undergraduate classes, I teach a part about phase noise and frequency stability of oscillators and frequency standards. It's a topic about which you can find thousands of papers, and it would not be improbable for a student to stumble across one of them. A few possibilities:
- The student reads the paper because they find it interesting, but can't understand a few points. The student then decides to email me the paper asking for help to clarify those points. This is a useful interaction: the student found interest in a topic I taught and I would be happy to help clarifying those points, through email or by giving an appointment.
- The student reads the paper and send it to me because it's a recent paper proposing a new method for the characterization of phase noise or because it discusses at length a tricky point I touched upon during the lectures. I'd find this useful, even though I may already know the paper.
- The student just found one of the many papers about the topic, maybe one which is not particularly relevant, and decides to send it to me for information. I'd thank the student for this, but I wouldn't consider such an interaction particularly useful.
In all three cases above, there's no harm in sending the paper, and I'd thank them anyway, but I'd consider it a useful action only in the first two cases.
I love it when my students do this. It shows they are engaged in the course and interested in the material.
One other suggestion: I imagine your school uses a learning management system (such as Moodle, Sakai, Canvas, D2L, or Blackboard). Assuming that’s the case, I don’t know how much your instructor uses it.
My classes uses the discussion board feature, and I usually set aside a thread for questions, comments, and suggestions. When one of my students asks if I might be interested in some article they found, I generally ask them to post it to that discussion board. That way, all the students can benefit from reading it.
You could just approach the professor after class and tell him what you found, and ask if he would like you to send it his way.
Incidentally, I’ve never thought any of my students were trying to be a “pet” for sharing a good resource that they’ve found.
Yes, unless it's a really large class (I wish more students engaged in their subject in this fashion). [You should use some judgement, though - some professors are happier about this than others, but it's not out of order.]
If there's some class forum that your professor has access to it might be better to post it there, unless you're reasonably confident that it's something the professor would want to use in classes.