1. Describe some student behaviors that you observe in your undergraduate classes that are problematic. What made them problematic? Give me an example from last week.
One of the biggest problems I have experienced comes from students who are disengaged from the class. Often students are texting or have their cell phones out during the entire class. Another common problem is students who try to appear that they are engaged by having their laptops open but they are often on social media sites or surfing the web rather than being truly engaged in the class. I have found that many students rely on a “core group” of students to participate in all the discussions and in class assignments and sit back and let the learning happen around them. I don’t know if it is because they are unprepared for class, they aren’t interested in the subject, or they don’t like to interact in a public setting, but I know that it is frustrating for me and for the students that are always relied upon to be prepared to answer the questions.
2. Based on teaching experiences, how would you define incivility?
Incivility occurs when the actions of individuals including actions or speech is rude or unsociable. In the classroom, I think that this includes the disengagement from learning.
3. What are some behaviors that you would describe as uncivil? When was the last time this occurred? What happened?
Cells phones are a big problem. Students are either on their phones the whole class or phones are going off throughout the class despite reminders to set them to silent. I understand that there are emergencies and sometimes calls or texts have to occur, but I ask that students be respectful and attend to their phones outside of the class. Other common issues are students with very strong beliefs/convictions that refuse to listen to the opinions of others. Often these are the same students who are surfing the web rather than engaging within the class discussions until it is a topic they are passionate about. I have also experienced students who do not feel that they have to abide by the class policies in regards to the discussion forums and assignment due dates. They feel that they should be able to submit their work whenever they want and not receive any point deductions. It is a spirit of entitlement in my opinion.
4. Can you share one or two examples of student incivility that you have experienced in classes?
Recently I had a student who failed to submit two of the last assignments. I advised her many times both on the phone and within the Individual Forum that assignments could only be accepted until the final day of the course, which she acknowledged within the forum. The final day of the course came and she did not submit the assignment and was given a zero. Several days later she e-mailed me the assignments and wanted credit for the assignments. I advised her that she was aware of the policy and had acknowledged the policy within my conversations with her. She called me to plead her case again and said yes she was aware of the policy she just didn’t think it applied to her.
5. How do you feel when students are uncivil?
It depends on where the incivility occurs. If it is directed at me I am angry. I spend a great deal of time within the class and ensure that students are learning and it is very frustrating. I try to be compassionate for my students, but the lack of civility sometimes makes me feel like I should be less compassionate.
If the incivility is between students, I try to remind them that they need to respect one another’s opinions and that even if we don’t agree on a subject it does not mean that we should be rude. Sometimes we can agree to disagree.
6. What factors or situations contribute to student incivility in your classes?
Cell phones, lap tops, side conversations, being unprepared, and unengaged are all factors within student incivility within the class. I know that it frustrates me and the students who are trying to learn and who are engaged.
7. What strategies do you use to handle incidents of student incivility in your classes?
· Attempting to create a class culture where everyone’s opinion is valued and respected.
· Having very detailed class polices and syllabus.
· Class discussions so that rather than a lengthy lecture students are given the opportunity to digest the information and solidify their learning through the discussion.
· Being active and present within the instruction and learning myself and being sensitive to the needs of the students.
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