By: Steven A. Meyers, PhD
Surveys indicate that one of every five students periodically displays some form of resistance to learning or hostility within the learning environment. Some students arrive late, fall asleep, or habitually miss class. Others argue with other students or the instructor. These behaviors—and others like them—are troubling on their own. What’s worse is that they are highly contagious and will spread to other students if the instructor is unprepared to quickly address and resolve them.
There is no such thing as a tolerable amount of incivility. A little disruptive behavior begets more disruptive behavior, and soon a healthy classroom environment devolves into an unhealthy one that does not support learning and that distresses other students. Negativity pervades the class. Some students become overtly hostile and disrespectful to their peers and instructors. Eventually, the class is overcome with contemptuous students who resist completing homework or participating in discussions. And that’s not what anyone signed up for.