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What Is Classroom Disruption?

What is disruptive behavior?

Disruptive behavior can be any behavior that disrupts the instructor’s ability to teach.  Disruptive behavior may vary depending on the class subject and class size, and can include behaviors ranging from reading the newspaper in class to overt acts of violence directed at faculty or students.  The Code of Conduct includes provisions that directly address classroom behavior:

  • Disorderly Conduct – classroom behavior that disrupts the instructor’s ability to teach or students’ ability to learn
  • Disruptive Activity – disruption of the normal activity and operations of faculty, students . . .
  • Failure to Comply
  • Harassment

How can it be prevented?

Faculty members encounter fewer problems when they clearly outline expectations and regulations verbally on the first day of class and in the syllabus.

How should faculty respond to disruption?

Minor first offenses can be addressed individually with a student after class or in a general statement to the class.  If the disruption continues, document the incident with the student, the department chair, and the Office of Student Conduct (OSC).  Outline with the student why the behavior is inappropriate and remind him of the expectations outlined in the first class meeting and in the syllabus.  Resolve the behavior before the next class.  Offer solutions, if possible.

What if the incident escalates?

Dismiss the student from the class and document the incident in writing to the OSC and department chair.

When is it appropriate to call the police?

Any instance where there is a threat of violence or unlawful behavior.  If a student refuses to leave the classroom after being instructed to do so, the police should be notified.  Always err on the side of caution.

Do not:

  • argue with the student
  • touch the student
  • humiliate the student
  • use abusive or derisive language
  • point or use threatening gestures

What if the disruption is occurring outside of the classroom? (E-mail harassment, notes on car, calls at home, etc.)

Action can be taken criminally and judicially.  Document the incident in writing, contact the resources you feel are appropriate, and follow the procedures outlined above.