&Responding toDistressed DisruptiveStudent BehaviorA Guide for Faculty & StaffOREGON STATE UNIVERSITY
DefinitionsDisruptive Students– Students whosebehavior makesteaching andlearning difficult forothers in the classDistressed students– Students who areexperiencingemotional and/orpsychologicalproblems that areinterfering with theirability to learn
Your RoleOften the first to recognize that astudent needs helpImportant to have knowledge of campusand community resources for referralResponsibility to maintain appropriatelearning environment
Disruptive BehaviorBeing late,reading thepaper, sleepingPhysicalviolenceMaking noise,repeatedlyinterruptingPersonal insults,harassmentPassing notes,answering cellphoneTakes many forms, varying in severity
Disruptive BehaviorHabitual interference with classroomenvironmentPersistent and unreasonable demandsfor time and attention both in and out ofthe classroomIntimidating or harassing anotherperson through words and/or actionsThreats of physical assaultWhat is it?
Disruptive BehaviorCultural differencesMost disagreements or differences ofopinionSituational frustrationNeeding extra time or attention for aspecial reasonWhat isn’t it?
Causes of Disruptive BehaviorUnderlying psychological concerns.Confusion about class expectationsand/or material.Difficult transition to college norms.
Avoiding Disruptive BehaviorArticulate clear classroom expectationsin the syllabus, and review during class.Develop agreements as a class duringthe first session.Respond to problems quickly andconsistently.Look to non-disruptive students forcues: is the class following material?
Addressing Disruptive BehaviorCorrect innocent mistakes and minorfirst offenses gently.Give a general word of caution to class.If possible, speak with the student afterclass.When necessary, correct the studentcourteously and indicate that furtherdiscussion can occur after class.
Addressing Disruptive BehaviorIn the face of persistent disruption, youmay ask the student to leave class forthe remainder of the period. Follow upto provide rationale and time fordiscussion.If there is threat of violence or otherunlawful behavior, call Campus Security(x77000).
Distressed Behavior - MinorRepeated requests for specialconsideration, extensions, etc.Unusual or exaggerated emotionalresponses.Withdrawal from activities or friends.Significant change in sleep or eatingpatterns.Serious grade problems.How to recognize?
Distressed Behavior - MinorExcessive absences, especially ifattendance was previously consistent.Perfectionism, procrastination, orexcessive worrying.Markedly changed patterns ofinteraction (avoiding participation ordominating discussion).How to recognize?
Distressed Behavior - SevereDepressed mood– Marked changes in personal hygiene;swollen, red eyes; falling asleep in class;excessively active and talkative.Inability to communicate– Garbled, slurred, disjointed, or incoherentspeech.Loss of contact with reality– Seeing/hearing things that do not exist.How to recognize?
Distressed Behavior - SevereSuicidal thoughts or intentions– Overtly discussing or hinting that this is acurrent and viable option.Homicidal threatsHighly disruptive behavior– Hostile, threatening, violent; withdrawal intocorner of room or fetal position.How to recognize?
Addressing Distressed BehaviorTalk to the student in private, when bothof you have time. Give the student yourundivided attention.Express your concerns in behavioral,nonjudgmental terms.– “Ive noticed you’ve been absent from classlately and I’m concerned.”Listen in a sensitive, non-threateningway.
Addressing Distressed BehaviorCommunicate understanding byrepeating back the gist of what thestudent has said.Avoid judging, evaluating, or criticizing.Respect the student’s value system,even if you disagree with it.If appropriate, make a referral.
When to Make a ReferralYou know that you can’t handle therequest or the behavior.You believe personality differences willinterfere with your ability to help.You know the student personally andbelieve that you could not be objective.You feel overwhelmed or unsure of howto proceed.
How to Make a ReferralLet the student know that it is notnecessary to know exactly what iswrong in order to seek assistance.Assure the student that seeking helpdoes not necessarily mean theirproblems are unusual or extremelyserious.Be frank about your own limits of time,energy, training, and objectivity.
Campus ResourcesServices for Students with Disabilities– 737-4098Dean of Students– 737-8748Campus Security– 737-3010 or 737-7000Affirmative Action– 737-3556
Community ResourcesCenter Against Rape & DomesticViolence– 754-0110Benton County Mental Health– 766-6844
Questions to Discuss as aDepartmentIf a student has been exhibiting unusualbehavior and other students arecomplaining, what should I do?What are my rights as a professor?What are my students’ rights?What is due process?What if a student confides emotionaldifficulties to me?
Questions to Discuss as aDepartmentWhat if a student presents me with anovert or veiled threat?Can I tell a student to leave the classand not come back?What should I do if my students beginchallenging my authority?Classes are getting larger and studentsharder to deal with. What can I do?
Other Topics AvailableAssisting Students in Distress• University Counseling & Psychological ServicesHandling Classroom Disruption• Student Conduct & MediationViolence in the Workplace• Human Resources, Campus SecurityCreating Inclusive Classrooms• Affirmative Action