Teaching Strategies: Disrespect and Disruption in the College Classroom
The resources on this page describe ways to reduce and respond to disruptive or disrespectful student behavior in the college classroom. Such behavior can not only negatively affect the overall learning environment for students but also contribute to instructors' stress and discontent. In addition to the resources below, CRLT consultants are available to help you think through strategies for both preventing or responding to disruption and disrespect.
Understanding Disrespect and Disruption
Reducing Incivility in the University/College Classroom
This resource defines incivility in the classroom as offensive, intimidating, or hostile behavior that interferes with students’ ability to learn and instructors’ ability to teach. This paper identifies factors contributing to uncivil interactions in the classroom and provides practical strategies designed to avoid or diffuse such conflicts.
Understanding Student and Faculty Incivility in Higher Education
This paper reviews academic literature focusing on disrespect and disruptions in the classroom and explores strategies for preventing and managing student incivility.
Faculty Members' Social Identities and Classroom Authority
This article by U-M faculty members Mark Chesler and Alford A. Young, Jr., highlights the important roles social identity factors such as race and gender play in shaping students' responses to their instructors. They discuss the greater likelihood that faculty of color as well as white women faculty will experience disrespectful behavior from their students, particularly challenges to their classroom authority and competence, and offer some suggestions for practice -- for those faculty members as well as their colleagues.
Strategies for Prevention and Response
- One important way to prevent incivility in the classroom is to explicitly set expectations and norms in your classrooms and labs. Discussion or participation guidelines offer one important method for doing so. Here are some examples of guidelines instructors at U-M use in various disciplines.
- This handout from a recent CRLT workshop provides additional strategies for preventing disrespect and disruption.
- This handout from a recent workshop provides strategies for preventing student-to-student disrespect.
- This worksheet from a recent workshop provides strategies for responding if students do act disrespectfully or disruptively in your classrooms.
- Student disrespect can often cause widespread discomfort in a learning space. Here are some suggestions for making the most of such "hot moments" as learning opportunities.