Classroom Disruption | Webster University

Classroom Disruption

If a student disrupts the learning environment within the classroom setting, instructors have the responsibility to address the behavior in order to maintain a civil and respectful environment conducive to productive learning.

Examples of Disruptive Behavior:

  • Frequently arriving late to class
  • Continually leaving and re-entering class without permission
  • Loud and distracting noises
    • Talking with others or talking aloud to none in particular
    • Cell phones and pagers
    • Munching on chips
  • Texting, or using electronic devices for reasons not related to the course
  • Continually interrupting instructor, or other students
  • Grandstanding
  • Sleeping in class, or poor personal hygiene
  • Comments that are:
    • Antagonistic or inappropriately argumentative
    • Openly rude or inappropriately critical
    • Threatening or Abusive

Prevention of Classroom Disruption

  • Make expectations for classroom discussion and conduct clear in the first class.
  • Consider adding a statement in your syllabus.
    • Example: "Since every student is entitled to full participation in class without interruption, all students are expected to be in class and prepared to begin on time. All pagers, wireless phones, or other electronic devices must be turned off, or switched to vibrate, when you enter the classroom. Students are expected to treat the instructor and other students with dignity and respect, especially in cases where a diversity of opinion arises. Students who engage in disruptive behavior are subject to disciplinary action, including removal from the course."

Responding to Disruptive Behavior

As noted in the policies found in the catalog, faculty members have the authority and responsibility to address disruptive behavior.

  • Instructors should address the behavior with the student and clarify expectations.
  • If the student continues to disrupt class after being advised to stop, the instructor may remove the student from that class session.
  • Instructors should refer persistent offenders to the Academic Dean (or dept. head) for possible permanent removal from the course.
  • In cases of threats of violence or other extreme behavior, instructors should, as noted in the policies, contact Public Safety, and/or the military or local police. (For those teaching at extended metropolitan or military sites, your director will provide specific information.)
  • The academic dean (or his/her designee) will review the evidence, talk with the student, and make a decision concerning the possible removal of the student from the course.
  • Documentation of the disruptive behavior should be sent to the Dean of Students office at the Webster Groves campus for placement in the student's file.
  • Students should be referred to Student Affairs for judicial proceedings if their behavior takes place outside of the classroom setting. This would include misconduct in an electronic format (e.g., harassing or threatening e-mail). Should this occur, keep copies of messages.

The full set of policies and procedures can be found at these links:

Main campus policies

Extended campus policies