HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
Effective Classroom Management
On top of everything college faculty are responsible for, there’s one that may be easy to overlook or even deem as unnecessary: Teaching students how to be students. Do so at your peril because most students need a little help understanding and practicing the skills and behaviors they need to succeed.
1. Create a classroom environment that from the first day sets ground rules for discussion and makes it clear that all students are included in the work of the class. Make sure you make all students feel connected to each other, the class, and the topic, and establish strong expectations about the content and manner of communication.
The first time a student’s cell phone rang in my class, I was angry and frustrated. With their musical ringers, cell phones that go off in class are rude and distracting. But how to respond? I’ve never been very good at playing the heavy. Was there any way I could take this annoying occurrence and twist so that it would contribute to a more positive classroom environment?
In case you ever had any doubts, research verifies that both students and teachers find cell phones ringing in class distracting. The results also document strong support from students and faculty for policies against ringing cell phones. Although there was strong support against cell phones going off in class, the strength of that support was mediated by age. The younger cohort in the study was more tolerant of cell phones than the older cohort.
Some students tell us they hate groups—as in really hate groups. Why do faculty love groups so much, they ask. I work hard, I’m smart, I can get good grades by myself, these students insist. Other students are a waste. I end up doing all the work and they get the good grade I earned for the group. Why do you, Professor Byrnes, make me work in a group. I hate groups!
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 better students sit in front, or does seat selection contribute to better grades? A recent study examined this question and found that students who sat in the back of the room for the first half of the term were nearly six times more likely to receive an F.
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.