Dealing With Disruption

Responding when disruption occurs:

If you believe inappropriate behavior is occurring, start by cautioning the whole class rather than warning a particular student.  A technique is to stop class, calmly indicate the problem (e.g. side conversations, cell phones) and state that class cannot continue until the behavior stops.  Before resuming, enlist the support of others by reminding the class that disruptive behavior takes away from class time and may result in some exam material not being covered in class.  You may also choose to inform the class that students may be disciplined for disrupting class and that continued disruption may result in permanent removal from the class.

Students also have academic freedom, so it is important to exercise authority with compassion and self-restraint.  It is best to correct innocent mistakes and minor first offenses gently, without ridiculing a student's remarks.

However, if it becomes necessary to speak to an individual student about disruptive behavior, do so after class in a discreet manner.  If the situation requires an immediate response in class, calmly and courteously ask the student to stop the conduct and to speak with you after class or during office hours. After you meet with the student, send a brief email to the student stating your expectations and advising the student that if the disruptive behavior continues, you will report them to the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs (OSSJA).

A student should be asked to leave class if they engage in disruptive behavior that impedes your ability to teach the class productively -- and you should contact the police if the student refuses to leave.  If the student’s refusal to leave creates a safety risk or makes it impossible to continue class, you may also dismiss class for the day.  If this happens, contact OSSJA immediately.

If a student is persistently disruptive, refer them to OSSJA for disciplinary action.  Please note that a disruptive student cannot be permanently removed from a class without a formal review, either through the student disciplinary process or through academic channels such as the department and dean’s office (see Dir. #88-128).

Edited 2/18/19 by slh