Disruptive Classroom Behavior

Disruptive behavior can assume many forms. It may be:

  • The student in your class who persistently arrives late or leaves early;
  • The students who talk incessantly while you are delivering a lecture;
  • The student who loudly and frequently interrupts the flow of class with questions or interjections; or
  • The student who becomes belligerent when you confront his or her inappropriate behavior in class.

It is important to differentiate disruptive classroom behavior (that which directly interferes with the ability of an instructor to teach or the ability of other students to benefit from the classroom experience) from behavior that is merely rude or uncivil. While the latter may become disruptive when it is repetitive or persistent, it usually is best addressed by example and suasion.

Disruptive student behavior is a detriment to the academic community — both faculty and students — because it interferes with the learning process for other students, inhibits the ability of instructors to teach most effectively, diverts university energy and resources away from the educational mission, and indicates a significant level of personal problems or distress on the part of the disrupter.

Disruptive behavior and disciplinary action
When less formal interventions prove inadequate or ineffective, it is appropriate for an instructor to initiate disciplinary action. Intervention by the Department of Public Safety results in the report of the matter being forwarded to Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. When Public Safety officers have not been involved, the instructor can write and forward a report including information identifying the student, the date and location of the incident and a summary of the incident.

When disruptive behavior is reported to Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, the instructor reporting the behavior will be contacted concerning the desired outcome. Remedies provided through the office may include disciplinary probation, a behavior contract concerning the class, anger management counseling or other educational interventions, or, in more severe cases, removal from the class (a student may not be removed from class permanently without a student conduct review).

Following this consultation, the student will be required to meet with a member of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards to discuss the behavior. It is possible that the matter can be resolved administratively without further direct involvement in the process by the instructor. In some cases, it may be necessary to convene a panel and conduct a formal hearing in the matter. In these cases, the instructor is involved as the complainant at the hearing.

Consultation concerning disruptive behavior
Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards provides consultation concerning preventing and addressing disruptive and inappropriate behavior. Instructors may contact the office (FIG-107; 821-7373) with any questions or requests concerning student behavioral issues.

Additional information about preventing and responding to disruptive behavior is contained in Trojan Integrity: A faculty desk reference. A publication of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, it is available to faculty upon request.

Important Telephone Numbers
Student Judicial Affairs
and Community Standards


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