Advice for Teachers: Dare to Be Strict

FacultyIn this post Joseph W. Trefzger, PhD shares his experiences effectively managing his courses at Illinois State University in order to ensure a conducive learning environment -via Faculty Focus.

In “Good Teaching as Vulnerable Teaching” (The Teaching Professor, December 2012), Rob Dornsife of Creighton University invites us to embrace the uncertainties teachers encounter. The article prompted me to invite colleagues also to embrace being strict when the conditions warrant it.

For two decades I have taught 150- to 200-student sections of introductory financial management to majors in all business programs, plus business minors from diverse fields. Although the course has its fans—some even change their majors to finance each semester—many students find the material daunting, become distracted, and behave in ways that impede the learning of others along with their own. Distractions always have lurked in college classrooms; texters and Web surfers are merely the note passers and campus newspaper readers of the digital age.

My syllabus, therefore, stresses the expectation that those enrolled will attend class regularly, remain attentive, and refrain from conversing, napping, or doing things unrelated to what we are discussing. I am convinced that most students support these policies based on the many who have thanked me over the years for making classroom order a priority. They report that some instructors do not admonish disruptors, leaving frustrated victims to bear that awkward task themselves or suffer silently. It makes sense that serious students would endorse these guidelines. What might be surprising are examples of reactions from some of the offenders that I’ve confronted.

Continue reeading…

Share your best practices for keeping students on track in the comments section.

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