Over the past two weeks, Guilia and Hongyi facilitated a very informative discussion on Classroom Management. Though there were many great examples and ideas put forward around classroom management, what stood out for me was the number of posts about inappropriate or challenging student conduct in the classroom. The challenges discussed ranged from cell phone usage to lack of respect for the instructor, (with a wealth of other examples in-between). Though it provides little comfort, at least we are not the only ones facing the challenge of student incivility.

In, Civility in the College Classroom, (2008) the authors state that, “Recent studies have shown that classroom courtesy is declining (Schneider, 1998). As a result, the mood of the college classroom has changed. Today it is common to hear college instructors, both tenured and untenured, lamenting the misbehavior of students in their classes, at both undergraduate and graduate levels” (para.3).

Student incivility is also addressed by Barkley in Student Engagement Techniques, “Many teachers are increasingly concerned about student incivility in the classroom. Behaviours ranging from lack of consideration and respect to overt hostility and aggression undermine the sense of community and seriously disrupt the learning environment” (2010. Pg.111).

Though many (but not all), of the student behaviours mentioned in the discussion board would be considered as “annoyances” by Feldman (2001), they all impact the learning environment in a negative way.

So what is an instructor to do?

Several wonderful suggestions were mentioned in the discussion board:

-Co-creating classroom rules-guidelines-policies

-Creating student contracts

-Establishing Codes of Conduct

And several more.

Barkley suggests that educators:

-Prepare a statement to include in the syllabus that clarifies expectations for behavior and lists what you find acceptable or unacceptable.

-Reduce student anonymity so that students are accountable for their behavior.

-Establish a method for students to air grievances, such as designating a student ombudsman.

-Confront problems when they arise.

-Document incidences, and if the behaviour is particularly egregious, ask other students who witnessed the event to write down their observations of what happened.

-Know your institution’s policies and procedures for addressing disruptive student behavior.

(pg. 111-112)

Utah State University and Dr. Hanadi Saleh have also come up with innovative ways to get the message out to their students about classroom civility by creating videos.

Classroom civility Utah State University

Classroom Civility-SLS Technology-Created by Dr. Hanadi Saleh

Though we may not see challenging behaviors disappear completely from the adult learning environment, I feel that we may reduce their frequency by implementing these ideas.

Barkley.E.F. (2010).Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. (p. 111-112).San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass.

Feldman, L. J. (2001). Classroom civility is another of our instructor responsibilities. College Teaching, 49, 137-14

Schneider, A. (1998). Insubordination and intimidation signal the end of decorum in many classrooms. Chronicle of Higher Education, 44, A12-A14

Shroeder, J.L. & Robertson. H. (2008). Civility in the college classroom. Association for psychological science. (para.3).Observer. Vol.21.No.10. November 2008. Retrieved October 27 2014