Students can disrupt a class—most of us have experienced that firsthand—but so can teachers. Teacher misbehaviors can also be disruptive. They can get in the way of learning. Sometimes these teacher behaviors are unintentional. Sometimes they are misunderstood by students. Sometimes teachers are tired and less focused than they should be. Whatever the cause, confronting actions that get in the way of learning is beneficial.
New research by Hoffman and Lee further explores disruptive faculty behavior. The January 2016 issue of the newsletter contains highlights from research in this area by Goodboy and Myers. Hoffman and Lee asked 100 upper division students to think of “two critical incidents in which faculty engaged in behaviors that adversely impacted the educational experience.” (p. 132) Then they asked students about each incident: how often it occurred, how seriously it disrupted, and what they'd recommend to discourage the faculty behavior. These study subjects had no trouble coming up with incidents that qualified for analysis—they identified 200.
Howard and Lee organized the incidents into four categories (using a services-marketing template). Here are the categories and some of the examples students identified.
The highest number of incidents (75) occurred in the third category. There were 73 incidents listed for the first category with 33 related to poor course delivery. In the second category, 34 incidences of mishandling student questions were described. As for the faculty behaviors that were most disruptive, students rated mishandling students' personal needs highest, followed by not debriefing exams and assignments. Exhibiting negative attitudes and poor handling of student disruptions were tied for third.
Equally interesting in this work was the set of solutions students proposed as ways they could respond to the disruptions. Again the researchers put the solutions in one of four categories.
Reference: Hoffman, K.D., and Lee, S.H.M., (2015). A CIT investigation of disruptive faculty behaviors: The students' perspective. Marketing Education Review, 25 (2), 129–139.
Goodboy, A.K. and Myers, S.A., (2015). Revisiting instructor misbehaviors: A revised typology and development of a measure. Communication Education, 64 (2), 133–153.