Edinburgh Napier University: ENroute Yearbook 2019 Edition - Page 17

ENroute Yearbook 2018-19
How to Manage Distruptive Behaviour in Lecturers and Tutorials Karl Warner , The Business School , Senior Fellow
A colleague recently asked me for some advice about managing disruptive behaviour in class which made me reflect on my own experiences of this situation in lectures and tutorials .
Although disruptive behaviour is typically associated with secondary education , this problem is not uncommon in higher education but is usually more subtle ( Horgan , 2003 ).
Disruptive behaviour can range from minor issues such as chatting , texting and late attendance to major issues such as a student being disrespectful in class by asking inappropriate questions or dominating class discussion .
The reality is that we have all experienced disruptive behaviour while teaching , but the way we learn to manage these situations are normally based on experimenting with new techniques in class that often emerge from informal conversations with colleagues .
In large lectures for example , every lecturer will have experienced the situation of a few students whispering to each other , which if uninterrupted can quickly amplify into something much louder and more distracting .
Whereas in tutorials , I ’ ve found disruptive behaviour can negatively impact the quality of learning and if not addressed can create anxiety for the tutor and students in the classroom .
One way to deal with these situations is to calmly and subtly involve the whole class to pinpoint any disruptive behaviour .
If for example , a student asks an inappropriate question , I ’ ve found a useful technique is to subtly ask what the rest of the class thinks about that question .
By shifting the focus to the whole class , this can collectively diffuse any disruptive behaviour , enhance learning and improve the tutorial experience .
It is important to stress that disruptive behaviour in higher education is not the norm , but we should all be aware of these situations especially when mentoring our colleagues on how to improve teaching and learning .
References Horgan , J . ( 2003 ) ‘ Lecturing for Learning ’, in H . Fry , S . Ketteridge & S . Marshall ( eds ) A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education ( 2nd edition ), pp . 75 – 90 . London : Routledge Falmer .
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