Classroom Etiquette and Dealing with Disruption

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University of California, Davis

Office of Student Judicial Affairs

Establishing Classroom Etiquette and Dealing with Disruption The tone of the classroom interaction has a significant impact on the educational environment. These days, the pervasive use of devices such as cell phones and the fact that some students may be unaware of University behavioral standards or the impact of their actions on others can lead to repeated distractions and interruptions. University of California Standards of Conduct for Students provide that students may be disciplined for "disruption or obstruction" of teaching or other University functions, and for failure to identify themselves to or comply with the directions of University officials, as well as other violations of conduct standards (see UC Standards of Conduct at

Set the stage for a positive classroom experience by:
• • • • • Stating reasonable and clear expectations in advance Defining conduct standards and discussing rules of etiquette in your syllabus and during class Giving examples of desired conduct as well as unacceptable behavior Explaining the reasons for your classroom expectations and inviting student comments and suggestions Being a role model for expected behavior and keeping your relationship with students friendly and professional

Responding when disruption occurs:
If you believe inappropriate behavior is occurring, start by cautioning the whole class rather than warning a particular student. A technique is to stop class, calmly indicate the problem (e.g. side conversations, cell phones) and state that class cannot continue until the behavior stops. Before resuming, enlist the support of others by reminding the class that the disruptive behavior is taking away from class time and may result in some exam material not being covered in class. • Students also have academic freedom, so it is important to exercise authority with compassion and self-restraint. It is best to correct innocent mistakes and minor first offenses gently, without ridiculing students’ remarks. • If it becomes necessary to speak to an individual student about disruptive behavior, do so after class in a discreet manner. If the situation requires an immediate response in class, calmly and courteously ask the student to stop the conduct and to talk to you after class or during office hours. • You may want to inform the class that students may be disciplined for disrupting class, and to reiterate that message if you talk with an individual student outside class because of his or her behavior. Remind the student that continued disruption may result in permanent removal from the class. • A student should be asked to leave class if he or she engages in disruptive behavior that impedes your ability to teach the class productively. You have the right to contact the police if the student refuses to leave. If the student’s refusal to leave creates a safety risk or makes it impossible to continue class, you may also dismiss class for the day. If this happens, immediately contact Student Judicial Affairs (SJA). • If a student is persistently disruptive refer him/her to SJA for disciplinary action. However, a disruptive student cannot be permanently removed from a class without a formal review, either through the student disciplinary process or through academic channels including the department and dean’s office (see Dir. #88-128) For more information about confronting cheating, about the disciplinary process, or about the Code of Academic Conduct, please call SJA at (530) 752-1128 or see our website at • UC Davis Office of Student Judicial Affairs, January, 2007

What is disruptive behavior?
Depending on the size and nature of your class what is considered “disruptive” may vary. In general, disruption and obstruction include behavior that interferes with, disrupts, or prevents normal classroom functions or activities. Disruptive behaviors can...
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