Tips on Teaching

Dealing with Classroom Management Challenges

14734962322_45d7fff3e9_zby Dipti Subramanium, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Reinert Center

Classroom management challenges are not uncommon; they are something that all instructors face at different levels and times. Below are some tips to address some common issues.

Dominating students: While dominating students are often eager, knowledgeable, and help keep the discussion going, they could also hinder other students from participating. At the beginning of the semester, let your students know that you would like to receive input and ideas from everyone from the class. Try calling on students who have not shared their ideas recently or don’t talk often, and ask frequent contributors to pause until others have had a chance to respond.

Disruptive students: Frequently, we have a subset of students who are pre-occupied with their own conversations and can bother other students.  Sometimes those conversations are about course material. Try breaking the class into groups while conducting discussions, have students formulate questions and discussion about course materials, and walk around the room asking students to share the key points of their discussion.

Uncivil students:  Often what instructors consider rude or uncivil behavior in class is surprising to students. Give your class a set of list of what constitutes as uncivil behavior. This can range from talking rudely to their peers, interrupting your lecture, or checking Facebook in class.  Create ground rules to demonstrate the unacceptable and acceptable behaviors. The overall goal here is to demonstrate to students the normative behaviors that are favorable to learning in your class.

Unprepared students: There are a variety of reasons why students come to class unprepared. Sometimes instructor’s ideas of being prepared differs from students’ ideas. So, help clarify to them what you mean about being prepared for assignments, exams, group projects and etc. Have clearly written expectations in your syllabus. Do not forget to communicate this verbally to your students.


  1. McKeachie, W., & Svinicki, M. (2013). McKeachie’s teaching tips. Cengage Learning.
  2. Braxton, J. M., Bayer, A. E., & Noseworthy, J. A. (2004). The effects of teaching norm violations on the welfare of students as clients of college teaching. In J. M. Braxton & A. E. Bayer (Eds.), Addressing faculty and student classroom improprieties. New directions for teaching and learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  3. Bjorklund, W. L., & Rehling, D. L. (2009). Student perceptions of classroom incivility. College Teaching, 58(1), 15-18.

*Image courtesy of Texas A&M University, via Flickr