Classroom Management Procedures: A Guide for Faculty

Introduction for Faculty in Working with Disruptive Students

Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. At times, members of the John Carroll University community may come in contact with classroom behaviors that are of concern. Specifically, students who are disruptive in the classroom warrant attention from faculty. Disruptive students in the academic setting hinder the educational process. These procedures are designed to outline information for faculty to resolve behavioral issues with disruptive students. Disruptive students who fail to adhere to behavioral standards may be subject to University disciplinary action. These procedures apply both to undergraduate and graduate students.

1. Definition of Disruption

Disruptive behavior in the classroom is defined as repeated, continuous or multiple student behaviors that prevent an instructor from teaching and/or prevent students from learning. Examples of disruptive behavior include but are not limited to: persistently speaking without being recognized or interrupting other speakers, harassing behavior or personal insults, and/or using cell phones (to talk, text, play games, etc.) or iPods during class.

2. Procedures for Resolving Disruptive Behavior

The primary responsibility for managing the classroom environment rests with the faculty. The following process should be followed by faculty:

Responding to disruptive behavior:

  • If the student’s behavior is irritating, but not particularly disruptive, consider talking with the student privately after class.
  • If it is necessary to deal with a student’s behavior during class, you should calmly but firmly inform the student that the behavior is disruptive and ask that it be stopped. Example: “your use of your cell phone is bothering me and disrupting the class. Please end your conversation now and refrain from in-class phone calls in the future.”
  • If the disruptive behavior continues during either the present or some future class, warn the student (perhaps in private) that such behavior may result in student disciplinary action. Example: “I’ve already warned you about talking when I am speaking to the class. If you disrupt the class again in this manner, you will be referred to the Academic Deans Office for disciplinary action.”
  • If it is suspected that the disruptive behavior indicates distress of some kind (see the addendum), it is appropriate to either encourage the student to seek assistance via the University Counseling Center or to contact the AAVP for Academic Programs and Faculty Diversity to encourage that an Assessment Team be convened.
  • Faculty members are encouraged to keep a log of the date, time, and nature of all incidents of disruptive behavior and any meetings you have with the student. Document incidents and meetings immediately, while specifics and details are still fresh in your memory.
  • If the student continues the disruptive behavior despite this warning, the student should then be asked to leave the classroom. Following the class, the instructor should contact the Department Chair and the Associate Dean in the college/school offering the course and provide pertinent information about the student’s behavior. The Associate Dean will determine if disciplinary action will be pursued.
  • If the student refuses to leave the classroom after being instructed to do so, s/he should be informed that this refusal is a separate instance of disruptive behavior subject to additional disciplinary action.
  • If the student continues to refuse to leave the classroom, the instructor may choose to adjourn class for the day or call security and have the student removed.

The disciplinary process:

  • If the student has been given a verbal warning, and the behavior continues, the faculty member should file a Disruptive Classroom Incident Report with the Academic Dean’s Office. The faculty member should talk with the Associate Dean about what action they would like to take regarding the student.
  • If the faculty member has removed the student from class, the student will need to attend a meeting with the faculty and Academic Dean’s Office representative to discuss the behavior. At this meeting, expectations will be provided to the student about future classroom behavior. The Associate Dean will provide the student with a letter that summarizes the meeting and that states that any further classroom disruptions may result in permanent withdrawal from the course.
  • If the student continues the disruptive behavior, and the faculty member wishes to remove the student permanently from the course, there will be a meeting with the student, faculty member, and the Academic Dean’s Office representative. At that meeting, the student will be told that they are being permanently withdrawn from the course. The student will receive a letter from the Academic Dean’s Office indicating that s/he is removed from the course. The letter will also inform the student that if s/he wishes to appeal the decision, the student will have two class days from the meeting to notify the appropriate Academic Dean in writing of the appeal. During the appeals process, the student will not be allowed to attend class. If the student is reinstated, it is at the instructor’s discretion as to whether the student can make up missed work.
  • The Academic Dean will review the written appeal and respond in writing within five class days to the student. The Academic Dean can uphold or change the decision which will be final and binding. If the decision is upheld, a note of the course removal will be included in the student’s file.
  • Students who have been found responsible for multiple violations of the student code of conduct may be subject to additional disciplinary action which could include suspension or dismissal from the University.

Students should be made aware of these procedures.

Responding to Distressed Students: an Addendum

The purpose of this document is to articulate procedures designed to inform and support faculty members who may encounter disruptive students. It is worth noting, however, any member of the John Carroll University community may come into contact with a distressed student. Distress is a separate category and wouldn’t trigger the disciplinary process and there are no prescribed procedures and manifestations of distress are so variable. Still, it is worthy of mention and consideration in this context. Being aware of behaviors and sources for help for the student can assist faculty to effectively address these types of situations. Examples of types of behaviors which suggest that a student is distressed include but are not limited to: poor concentration, changes in hygiene, skipping class, changes in sleep patterns, loss of self-esteem, or other behaviors that give the faculty member cause for concern.

Faculty who would like to talk about a distressed student should contact the Associate Academic Vice President for Academic Programs and Faculty Diversity. The AAVP may convene an Assessment Team which may include representatives from the Academic Dean’s Office, the Dean of Students Office, Campus Safety Services, the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, and the Counseling Center. This group will meet with the faculty member to hear the concerns and develop an action plan.

Submitted to Faculty Council by:

Lauren Bowen, AAVP for Academic Programs and Faculty Diversity

Sherri Crahen, Dean of Students