disruptive students February 5

Coping with Seven Disruptive Personality Types in the Classroom


The typical college professor is bound to run into his or her share of difficult students during the course of an academic career. Some students create nuisances by engaging in annoying behavior, such as interfering with classroom proceedings, making irrelevant comments, and causing noisy interruptions. They may turn assignments in late, disregard the course expectations, and insist on special treatment for themselves. Other students, however, may pose a very real threat to the safety of the professor and fellow students.

Relatively few college professors are trained in how to recognize and respond effectively to these challenging or threatening behaviors. Sometimes, faculty will have difficulty distinguishing between a student who is a mere nuisance and a student who poses a very real threat to the community. It is comforting to know that many of the most difficult and disruptive encounters with students tend to fall into predictable, known categories.

This white paper will help you to set enforceable standards, expectations, and boundaries flexibly with students, depending on the exhibited personality style.

After reading this white paper, you will know how to better manage passive-aggressive behaviors such as sleeping in class, lateness, and procrastination. You will learn essential principles regarding the value of collaborating with on-campus resources to resolve disruptive crises. This white paper also provides guidance to help professors know whether and when they need to report certain disruptive incidents.

Perhaps most important, this report provides the guidance necessary to help instructors and administrators recognize “red flags” that portend physical risk when dealing with potentially dangerous students.

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June 4, 2012

Dealing with Difficult Students and Other Classroom Disruptions


Problem students come in all forms, and may be “difficult” for wide variety of behaviors. While it’s impossible to create neat little categories that adequately describe the full range of problems encountered by college faculty, a good starting point may be to classify the behaviors as annoying, disruptive, or dangerous. Each requires a different type of response based on the context of the behavior.

September 13, 2010

Five Techniques for Dealing with Problem Students and Other Classroom Challenges


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.

March 29, 2010

Interested but Noncompliant Students: Annoyance or Opportunity


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?

September 2, 2009

Assumptions about Setting the Right Classroom Climate


For quite some time now I’ve been interested in a widely held set of assumptions faculty make about the need to assert control at the beginning of a course. The argument goes something like this: When a course starts, the teacher needs to set the rules and clearly establish who’s in charge. If the course goes well, meaning students abide by the rules and do not challenge the teacher’s authority, then the teacher can gradually ease up and be a bit looser about the rules.