Teaching in a disruptive classroom

Jul 21, 2008

Anyone who teaches a large group of students has probably experienced undesirable student behaviors. I taught the introductory college biology course at Syracuse University, and several hundred students attended each lecture.

Marvin Druger, Syracuse University, shares his college teaching experiences and how to deal with inappropriate behavior in an article published in the 2008 Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education.

Druger never paid much attention to inappropriate student behavior in his class, assuming that most students were paying attention and taking notes. One day, after lecture, a disgruntled young man approached him and complained about other students talking in class. This comment made Druger aware that there was a problem that required his attention.

"After observation, I learned that text messaging, talking on cells phones and with other students, drawing pictures in notebooks, doing other homework, reading a book, and sleeping were all occurring during my lecture," explains Druger.

Druger decided to send an email message to the students about misbehavior to all the students in the course. He made the students aware that he had complaints from students who are distracted by these inappropriate behaviors.

Part of the email message said, "If you are one of the few disruptive students that I'm talking about, please think about your behavior and modify it. I'm trying to enrich your life, and it's frustrating to see that a few students in the class seem not to care."

The week after sending the email to all the students in the large class, the results were very gratifying. "Students had stopped being disruptive and were attentively listening to the lecture and taking notes," said Druger.

It seems that an effective way to handle student misbehavior in a lecture class is to simply be very direct with the students. Once students think about their behavior and realize that it is inappropriate, they will likely cooperate. It is a matter of reaching into the adult component of the student's mind.

Directly appealing to students and explaining the reasoning for your class policies can resolve problems. Try it and see.

Source: American Society of Agronomy

Explore further: Can science eliminate extreme poverty?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

"Truss Me" app attracting attention

Mar 21, 2014

Truss Me!, an educational app developed by Aerospace Engineering faculty Julian Rimoli, is attracting a growing number of fans – from teenagers curious about what science can teach them to college educators ...

Recommended for you

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

5 hours ago

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.