James is a first-year student who is enjoying the freedoms of being out from underneath his parents’ rules. He’s an average student academically, but is often a distraction in class. He perpetually texting or surfing the web, and gentle reminders from the professor to pay attention fail to keep him on task for long. His behavior is having a negative effect on other students in the class and the professor is reaching his breaking point. The final straw came when the professor noticed James was wearing headphones while taking an exam.
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If you have been teaching for any time at all, I’ll bet you’ve encountered what I call the interested but noncompliant student (hereafter, the INC). Here are some examples encountered in my courses: In an ancient language course, one INC would not take the trouble to learn her noun forms and verb endings but, fascinated by the language, went online to find an inscription that she tried to decipher. Another INC read more than I have in a subdivision of my field. He wanted to talk about it endlessly before and after class, so much so that I had to chase him away to give other students a chance to talk to me. Am I describing student behaviors that sound familiar?
Managing students who are disruptive, those who lack motivation and appear as though they would rather be any place than in the classroom, is easier when faculty take the right stance. Anything is possible when faculty have faith in the students they teach. Learning starts with a dedicated teacher interested in meeting the challenge of how to present content in a way that successfully navigates the barriers students erect.
A disruptive personality can manifest itself in a variety of ways and levels of intensity. A student who’s always late to class, uses obscene or abusive language, sleeps in class, or has a strong sense of entitlement can create major challenges for college instructors.
Do you have one or two high-maintenance students in your classes? If you do, then you know how they can sap your energy. The funny thing about high-maintenance students is they often look quite the opposite when they first present themselves to teachers.
“Managing student expectations is important in any class but even more so for online and blended courses where it’s easy for students to feel lost,” says Susan Ko, executive director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). “Even well structured, academically rigorous online classes can have diminished effectiveness due to a lack of clear expectations.”
Sleeping during class. Spotty attendance. Cell phone misuse. Provocative clothing. Combative behavior. These are just some of the classroom management challenges faculty may see on a regular basis. What’s the best way to respond? […]