Dealing with disruptive students
Just as in the face-to-face classroom, you might have to deal with disruptive students online. Possibly because of the lack of face-to-face presence and the difficulty in interpreting emotions within electronic communications, disruptive students online can be more challenging to handle. Some can even appear downright disrespectful or abusive toward not only fellow students, but also toward you.
In the online class, disruption can be direct, such as students sending abusive or vulgar emails. It can also be less direct, such as a student posting a picture that she might not think is sexually explicit, but you or other students might be offended by t.
In this document, we'll identify some of the behaviors that you might encounter, give suggestions for handling disruptive students, then outline the official CLPCCD procedure for removing students.
Keep in mind that information in the LPC Full-time Faculty Handbook and the district Board Policy on Student Conduct and Due Process were both written for face-to-face classes and don't mention anything specific about online classes.
The bottom line for you, though, is that if you feel a student should be removed from your class via suspension, contact your dean immediately.
Student Conduct Code
Here are some of the behaviors, taken from the LPC Student Conduct Code, that can get a student in trouble:
- Abusive behavior directed toward, or hazing of, a member of the college community.
- Harassment, including sexual harassment, in violation of state or federal law.
- Persistent misconduct where other means of correction have failed to bring about proper conduct.
- Obstruction or disruption of teaching. Interference with the course of instruction to the detriment of other students, including but not limited to entering the classroom after the class has started and disrupting the lecture or class activities including verbal outbursts that disrupt the instructor's lesson. Failure to comply with the instruction or directives of the course instructor.
- Disruption of classes or other academic activities in an attempt to stifle academic freedom of speech.
Handling disruptive students
Before escalating a student problem, try to handle it yourself. While doing so, save any pertinent emails or postings for possible future reference. The following are some methods for dealing with disruptive students:
- Make sure you have information about netiquette in your syllabus so when a situation arises, you can refer students to that info.
- Delete any inappropriate postings in the Discussion Board. You can do this in Blackboard, and you can also block a student from posting in a forum.
- Email a student who is disruptive. Try to be as objective as possible when asking about the problem. Let the student know how he was disruptive, how his behavior had a negative impact, and what the possible consequences will be if he continues to be disruptive.
- Call the student to discuss the problem. Better yet, have the student come to campus to talk to you.
- If the student's wrath has been directed toward you, try not to act defensively. Try to maintain your composure, and put some thought into your response, possibly even seeking advice from colleagues. You also might want to be open-minded just in case the student has a valid point.
Removing disruptive students
Here's the official procedure, taken from the LPC Full-time Faculty Handbook:
"Instructors may remove a disruptive student from the classroom for the duration of a class period only, but may not terminate their enrollment for disciplinary reasons (Board Policy 5512, Administrative Rules and Procedures 5512).
The Dean of Student Services may suspend a student for due cause. Only the Board of Trustees can expel a student from the College.
Faculty members experiencing disciplinary problems that they feel may warrant the removal of a student by suspension should immediately inform their Division Dean to review the situation and to determine the appropriate action. If a student poses a threat to the well-being of faculty, staff or other students, Security should be contacted immediately.
The general provisions and specific procedures related to this policy [Student Conduct and Due Process] are available from the Office of Student Services, the Counseling Office, and the Office of the Associated Students."
If the action that you and your Dean agreed upon does not stop the student's disruptive behavior, contact the Dean of Student Services.
The following was excerpted from the district Board Policy 5512 -- Student Conduct and Due Process - Las Positas and Chabot Colleges:
"All complaints of alleged misconduct made against a student by any person should be ubmitted to the Chabot Dean of Students or the Vice President of Student Services at Las Positas College. These complaints must be made in writing, specifying the time, place, and nature of the alleged misconduct. All complaints must be signed. If the Dean or the Vice President of Student Services determines the omplaint to be capricious, the complaint may be dismissed."