Disruptive student throwing crumpled paper at another student
This image was taken prior to national guidelines of face coverings and social distancing.

Disruptive Students Overview

Disruptive students are those who interfere with instruction and the instructor’s ability to conduct a class. Eventually, this leads to other students being unable to profit from the instruction they are there to receive.

Strategies

Prevent Disruptive Behavior

Setting clear guidelines at the start of each term will aid in setting the tone in the classroom. This small investment in time will aid in keeping disruptions to a minimum and hold students accountable to a known standard. Clear expectations should be discussed with students and detailed in the course syllabus.

Respond to Disruption

When responding to disruption, be sure to express empathy, develop discrepancy, avoid arguments, roll with resistance, establish group rules, and attack ideas not people.

Model the Behavior You Expect

At times, disruptive behavior stems from students sensing that they are being held to a higher behavioral standard than their instructor. For example, if an instructor deducts points for tardiness, it is important for the instructor to arrive to class on time, if not early.

Resources

Diving Deeper/ Research