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: History books spark latest Texas classroom battle

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA air campaigns focus on Arctic climate impacts

30 minutes ago

Over the past few decades, average global temperatures have been on the rise, and this warming is happening two to three times faster in the Arctic. As the region's summer comes to a close, NASA is hard at ...

Video: MAVEN set to slide into orbit around Mars

30 minutes ago

A NASA mission to Mars led by the University of Colorado Boulder is set to slide into orbit around the red planet this week after a 10-month, 442-million mile chase through the inner solar system. 

Global change: Trees continue to grow at a faster rate

31 minutes ago

Trees have been growing significantly faster since the 1960s. The typical development phases of trees and stands have barely changed, but they have accelerated—by as much as 70 percent. This was the outcome ...

Slimy fish and the origins of brain development

32 minutes ago

Lamprey—slimy, eel-like parasitic fish with tooth-riddled, jawless sucking mouths—are rather disgusting to look at, but thanks to their important position on the vertebrate family tree, they can offer ...

Recommended for you

History books spark latest Texas classroom battle

18 hours ago

As Texas mulls new history textbooks for its 5-plus million public school students, some academics are decrying lessons they say exaggerate the influence of Christian values on America's Founding Fathers.

Flatow, 'Science Friday' settle claims over grant

18 hours ago

Federal prosecutors say radio host Ira Flatow and his "Science Friday" show that airs on many National Public Radio stations have settled civil claims that they misused money from a nearly $1 million federal ...

User comments : 0