Managing Challenging Student Situations
Adapted from North Carolina State University's "Managing Classroom Disruptions" Guide.
Concerning Student Behavior vs. Disruptive Student Behavior
Students may cause disruptions in class for a variety of reasons, ranging from an instance of disrespect to behavior triggered by a student crisis or trauma. Such disruptions could include tardiness or absence from class, interruptions to lectures, sudden loss of interest or motivation in class work or participation, or inappropriate communication with fellow students or instructors. Engaging the student on these or other disruptive behaviors in a private manner is the first step in distinguishing whether a student needs further support or outside resources.
Discussing a Disruptive Incident
Ask the student to meet with you privately, as close to the disruptive incident as possible. The privacy of this meeting ensures that the student can be honest with you, avoids embarrassment of peers overhearing the discussion, and promotes a genuine conversation on the behavior. Make sure you are clear, but nonjudgmental during this meeting.
Be sure to discuss the following:
- The behavior you are speaking to them about
- How the behavior negatively impacts the class
- How the student can change their behavior to abide by your expectations
- A follow-up on whether the student can agree to what you've discussed
By being direct with the student, and allowing them an opportunity to explain themselves or voice concerns, most students are able to recognize their error, apologize, and subsequently change their disruptive behavior.
However, if the student is still concerning in the following ways, further action may be required:
- The student over-reacted to your request or recount of their disruptive behavior
- The student denied that their behavior was disruptive in an irrational or disrespectful manner
- The student shared a personal trauma or crisis that is affecting their ability to be a successful student
- The student seemed disoriented, or unfocused during the meeting, or had trouble putting together coherent thoughts
A Student of Concern can be reported to the Dean of Students' office using this online form. The Dean of Students' Welfare team will assess the concern, decide the best course of action for engaging the student, and follow up with the reportee.
If you are looking to file an instance of Student Academic Misconduct or Student Conduct, follow these links.
Removing Students from Class
According to MSU's Student Conduct Code, students may be removed from a class period for being disruptive.
Faculty also have the option of seeking long-term removal for a student.