Dealing with Difficult Students. Sense of failure, rejection, threat To avoid these feelings Clarify types of behaviour Understand some causes Generate solutions Separate behaviour from person Take ourselves out. Certain behaviours are expected. Punctuality Regular attendance
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Sense of failure, rejection, threat • To avoid these feelings • Clarify types of behaviour • Understand some causes • Generate solutions • Separate behaviour from person • Take ourselves out
Certain behaviours are expected • Punctuality • Regular attendance • Performance of required tasks • Paying attention • Coming prepared • Dressing appropriately • Being polite • Being respectful
If students break these rules . . . • Poses a problem to instructor trying to manage a group so that it is functional • First thing to do—rank those behaviours in order of importance
If students break these rules . . . • Now categorize each type of behaviour by what • Makes you angry • Seems senseless • Embarrasses you • Amuses you • Can you deal with easily • Can you understand
If students break these rules . . . • Now select the types of behaviour that make you angry and think about the last time you had to deal with it • Analyze what happened • What led up to it • How did other students react • How did you intervene • What were the activities in the classroom at the time? • What was the outcome?
What are the factors that make learning successful? • Having fun • Being involved • Discovering • Achieving goals • Understanding the purpose of tasks
What interferes with learning? • Fear of failure • Boredom • Unrealistic goals • Not understanding the purpose of tasks • Feeling tired
Prevention is better than Prescription • Impossible to avoid all difficulties • Clear outline of expectations and evaluative criteria are critical • Leave you less vulnerable
Prevention • Clearly state expectations concerning class attendance, participation, and the timely completion of assignments UP FRONT. • Hand out a document that outlines these criteria.
Tell them where you are coming from • Communicate your biases so they know what type of work you expect. • Explain your own critical methodology and interests to give them an idea as to what approaches you prefer. • Be an ally, not an adversary. • Be accessible. • Be warm and supportive in encouraging your students' participation in class.
Be careful when correcting students in class—don’t embarrass them or put them on the defensive. • Point out mistakes in a positive and constructive manner that is not discouraging. • Help students recognize for themselves flaws in their argument or response. • Be fair and ethical. Students talk to each other and compare notes. • Intervene early when a problem arises, documenting and saving copies of all your efforts to reach out to a given student. • Make sure that your attitude in class serves as a model of how you expect your students to behave and participate in your class.
Grading • Making your grading policies and expectations as transparent as possible. • This will help but will not totally preclude difficulties.
Assignments are late or not turned in • Unambiguously state your policy on how late or missing assignments will be handled in the syllabus that you distribute on the first day of class. • Speak to student in private to determine the cause of their failure to complete the assignments in an appropriate manner. • Make the student aware of negative impact on grade. Remind the student that ultimately they are in control of their coursework. • Document the interaction that you have with your student concerning the missed assignment(s). • Communicate by email or follow up an in-person discussion with an email reiterating the pertinent aspects of the conversation.
Missed exam • Discuss how you'll handle missed exams and quizzes at the beginning of the semester. What will be your policy on making up missed exams? • Stick to your policy so as to maintain total fairness with all students.
Student argues grade • Make grading criteria clear from the outset of the course. • Use a grading/point system that is clear and straightforward so that it is easily defendable and easy for your students to understand. • Furnish students with the criteria necessary for success so that they know how to meet your expectations. • If possible, hand out guidelines for a good essay or examples of a superior exam answer. • When you grade, give detailed explanations of why you found a given point weak or strong and offer suggestions as to how the work might be improved. • Give the students ideas about how to study or organize their ideas more effectively.
Student argues grade • Offer the option of handing in an initial draft of their work that you will comment on but not grade. • Ask the student to explain to you in specific terms why his or her work deserved a better grade. • Consider a re-grade policy whose details you spell out in your syllabus. Orformulate a policy for yourself in advance of having to implement it.
Student argues grade • If you agree to re-evaluate student work, make it clear that you retain the right to adjust the grade either up or down. Warn the student that you may find mistakes or problems that you hadn't noticed the first time around, which could adversely affect their grade. • Always keep an open mind to the possibility that you may have made a mistake in evaluating student work and that re-evaluation might indeed be in order.
Student offers to do extra credit to compensate • List all of the assignments that will accrue towards the final grade on your first-day syllabus, making it clear that supplemental work will not be factored into the grade. • Remind the student that the concept of "extra credit" has currency in the arena of secondary education but is no longer operative at the university level.
Classroom Behaviours • The late student • Speak to the student in private • Ask that they enter unobtrusively if necessary • Always start class on time. • Give quizzes at beginning of class • Address the class as a whole, insist on the importance of punctuality as a mark of respect not only towards the instructor and course material but also towards the other students in the class. Emphasize that you respect your students and that such respect should be reciprocal.
Classroom Behaviours • Excessive absence • Make sure that you state your policy on attendance in your syllabus, indicating whether a certain number of absences will result in the lowering of a grade. • Contact the student individually to find out what the circumstances of their absence are. • Warn the student that their grade will probably suffer as a result of their chronic absences. • If attendance is not required and the student is doing well, you may be better off not addressing the issue with that student.
Classroom Behaviours • Chronically hostile or disruptive • Contact the student. Document and keep records. • Ask for, listen to, and try to understand the student's perspective. • Sometimes disruptive behavior reflects a desperate need for attention. Listening may help. • You may often discover that the attitude has nothing to do with you or your class and that the student is not even aware that they seem hostile. Calling attention to the behavior may incite the student to be more attentive to the impression that they are giving. • If the student has a specific problem, ask them to suggest possible solutions. Try to think of ways that you could help, within the limits of your role as an instructor. • Frame your comments on the student's behavior in terms of "stress" so as to keep them from feeling judged or attacked. Stress provides a neutral and safe context within which to discuss disruptive behavior and attitudes. • If the problem persists, talk to other faculty members who have had the student in their classes. • Talk to a dean or to someone at Student Services to get further input and support.
Chronically argumentative student • Support your position by relying on the course materials, to which you both have access. • Suggest that he/she continue the discussion during your office hours. • Remain calm and nonjudgmental. Do not take it personally. • Listen to and try to understand the student's perspective. • Don't assert your authority as the professor. Avoid introducing your statements with "I." • If a student is stubborn and refuses to postpone a disagreement until after class or office hours and completely disrupts a class, remain calm. • If the student is agitated to the point of being unreasonable, ask them to carry the grievance to a higher authority (e.g., the department head or dean). • Make apparent your willingness to discuss the issue calmly, but do not continue trying to reason with a student who is highly agitated. • If you remain calm in the presence of the group, the student may soon become cooperative again. • In an extreme case, you may have to ask the student to leave the classroom, or even dismiss the class. Try to respond as calmly as possible. Avoid making an issue out of a small incident. The hardest part of such a situation is to maintain your professionalism, and not to respond as if you feel personally attacked.