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Encouraging Classroom Civility Joseph S. Clark Center for Teaching and Learning Academic and Professional Program Services The Florida State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Encouraging Classroom Civility Joseph S. Clark Center for Teaching and Learning Academic and Professional Program Services The Florida State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Encouraging Classroom Civility Joseph S. Clark Center for Teaching and Learning Academic and Professional Program Services The Florida State University Note: Quotations appearing throughout this slideshow are from a Chronicle discussion on classroom incivility ( and are NOT intended as advice!

2 What’s Uncivil? What do you consider uncivil?

3 What’s Uncivil?  Active vs. Passive (Middendorf)  Disruption & Interference (UCET/UF)  Physical vs. Psychological  Situational and Universal Factors

4 Why does it matter?  Effects on faculty  Effects on students “Given the fact that all power to discipline has been removed from the classroom professor, I have found that the best way to deal with such problems is to let them defuse themselves, and then give such students a failing grade, which they can always appeal. If they cannot figure out why they failed, then they do not belong in college.” - Scott Glotzer, Adjunct Assistant Professor, William Paterson University, CUNY: Lehman College

5 Cultural Factors “While history is replete with gripes of disruptive students and generational grudge matches, these traditional elements are now being played out within the context of a cultural transformation that has just begun and is not at all well defined. …[E]lements of consumerism, a "Wal-Mart" society, and the crisis of adult authority [are] the roots of the problem. Student bashing, professor bashing, and of course, administrator bashing also creep into the discussion.” -- Roger P. Davis, Professor of History, University of Nebraska at Kearney

6 Cultural Factors  “Millenial Students” (UCSC)  “Crisis of Authority” (UCET/UF)  Stress (Baldwin)

7 Institutional Factors “The complaint was about grades -- my complaint, incidentally, was about unruly behavior. Several administrators believed the students. None believed me -- one even claimed that I was the cause of the unruly behavior. It will never be right until administrators cease catering to the students and realize, ultimately, that their faculty are a far more precious resource than students (who are merely inventory, not consumers).” -- C. Robert Phillips, III, Professor of Classics & Ancient History; Lehigh University “’Three warnings and you're out of the classroom,’ should be clearly stated on the syllabus. The professor should have the support of administration in enforcing rules that govern appropriate classroom behavior. Administration needs to emphasize that students are representatives of the university -- and their behavior reflects on that university.” -- Shirley M. Joiner, Ph.D., Independent Scholar

8 Institutional Factors “[A]re the problems that arise in large-group lectures (which so easily degenerate into an information-transmission form of address with no productive, individualised interaction between tutor and students or among students) also to be seen in small-group classes or seminars or workshops (say up to 30 students) where students are expected to talk and listen to one another and participate actively in constructing their own learning?” -- Dr. Derek Rowntree, Professor of Educational Development, The Open University (UK)

9 Institutional Factors  Lack of instructor training  “Culture of Silence”  Large or mediated classrooms  Lack of community  Increased diversity  Discipline-specific issues  Lack of administrative support

10 Student Factors “Freshmen behave like they’re on a chicken farm. It takes them ten minutes to settle down and they become restless ten minutes before the class ends.” “These students are awful. They’re loud, disrespectful and totally uninterested. I want to line them all up and beat them with a fire hose.” Carbone, “Students Behaving Badly in Large Classes,” quoting from Allen, 1998

11 Student Factors  “Bad manners”  Lack of Self-Monitoring  Boredom  Cultural differences  Anonymity  Emotional Disturbances (Amada)

12 Collisions in Race, Ethnicity, Gender When is uncivilized behavior a multicultural issue?

13 Instructor Factors “[A]s a European white male, I have little problem keeping order. I have thrown students out of class, I have stopped in mid-sentences and waited for silence, and I have told students they are not paying for a grade but for my expertise. I have done this and more and never had a complaint about my methods in maintaining order. In fact many students have expressed approval. However, colleagues who are female and/or of a non-white European background have had very different experiences.” -- Fred Fejes, Associate Professor Florida Atlantic University

14 Instructor Factors “As one who has dedicated his career to preparing teachers, I always recommend that teachers first examine their own behavior when faced with student disruptions and inappropriate deportment. Though it is much easier to blame classroom problems on poorly behaved students, good teachers (even teachers in higher education) can do much to mitigate against such problems.” -- Sam Minner, James H. Quillen Chair Of Excellence In Teaching And Learning “It is very important for us to remember that the demeanor we bring to our classrooms on the first day sets the tone for the semester/quarter. I have learned that the students' initial perceptions of the instructor/professor stay with them to the end.” -- Thomas J. Ernster, MA, Instructor of English- Hamilton College, Cedar Rapids, IA; Adjunct instructor of Writing- Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, IA

15 Instructor Factors  Lack of “Immediacy”  Clarity  Enforcement  “Expertise problem”  Gender, Race, Ethnicity

16 Preemptive Steps “I believe it is necessary to explain to the class up front what you expect, what they can expect and then live by that.... I find that when behavior is part of the class culture and work, it ends much better.... When a student must create a relationship with the teacher as well as with peers in a class, I think that civility comes more easily.” -- Dr. Luke Kahlich, Temple University “It's becoming more important to include in your course outline details on what you expect as acceptable behavior. This should include anything that you feel will interrupt the atmosphere of the class environment. We include a tear-off portion of the last page, signed by the students, stating that they agree to the conditions on the outline. It is then up to the professor to enforce these conditions.” -- Jeffrey F. Koodin, Department Chair

17 Preemptive Steps  Set the ground rules (collaboratively?)  List specific unacceptable behaviors  Explain why (philosophy/values)  Model correct behavior: tone  Method for taking feedback

18 Preemptive Steps  Sample syllabi  Syllabus worksheet

19 Ongoing Strategies “(W)e need to ensure that our presentations are well thought out and well organized and, if such technology is available to us at our institution, prepare visual support, such as Power Point slides, to supplement our verbal presentations. Not only might such support help with decorum by at least entertaining those few who seem to know how to behave appropriately when bored, we also provide learning support for the students in our classes who learn best visually.” -- Ruth Fischer, Associate Director of Composition & WAC, George Mason University “I have adopted the policy of addressing all of my students by last names, preceded by the generic titles of courtesy, 'Ms.,' or 'Mr.," as a reactive measure to multiple students taking the liberty of addressing me by my first name. My 'last name only' policy is my way of immediately informing my students that teacher/student dialogue is to be conducted in a mutually respectful forum.” -- Ruby Evans, Professor of Statistics

20 Ongoing Strategies  Model correct behavior  Use active learning and interactivity  Teach civility through activities (Baldwin)  Don’t rescue or enable (Reed)  Arrange for feedback & observation

21 Dealing with Episodes “The ground rules are made clear: enthusiasm and heat are expected and encouraged, but I will broach no personal attacks, racist/sexist/etc. slurs, or intimidation. It's inevitable, however, that in the heat of argument, things will sometimes "slip out"; statements will be made that can be interpreted as intimidating, rude, or bigoted. Indeed, sometimes a student will recoil after making a particularly vitriolic statement, having come face-to-face with a prejudice, an intolerance, or an anger that he or she had never acknowledged before. “When this occurs we stop the discussion, take a couple of breaths, and confront what just happened -- if an apology is called for, it's usually given willingly; if not, the student(s) and I can meet after class to discuss the matter further.” -- D.G. Whiteis, Indiana-Purdue University at Ft. Wayne

22 Dealing with Episodes Tips from practitioners

23 Dealing with Episodes  Address it lest you be seen as condoning it  Address facts rather than feelings  Respond appropriately to passive vs. active incivilities  Consider your own role

24 Dealing with Episodes  “Gracious Public Embarrassment” (Carbone)  Ask student to meet outside class  Point out impact on other students  Ask student to leave?

25 Dealing with Episodes  Threats require immediate law enforcement response  Document serious episodes  Consider roles of Health Services, Judicial System

26 Dealing with Episodes Tip summary (Wager)

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