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Managing Classroom Behavior and Expectations

Disruptive classroom behavior or failing to meet reasonable behavioral expectations set forth by instructors have the potential to harm the learning environment for other students and to create unsafe conditions for all involved. It is important for instructors to address concerning behavior early on and to solicit assistance when necessary. The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities provides these frequently asked questions to consider:

What are examples of disruptive behavior?

  • Yelling and/or screaming during class
  • Threats of violence or physical assault
  • Failing to meet expectations outlined in the Protect Purdue Pledge or course syllabus
  • Actions that intimidate and/or harass others
  • Inappropriate use of personal technology (cell phones, laptops, etc.)

How can I prevent disruptive behavior in my classroom and/or laboratory?

  • Communicate your expectations early, both verbally and in writing via your course syllabus
  • Model the same behavior you wish students to display
  • Related specifically to policies pertaining to the Protect Purdue Pledge reiterate classroom expectations
  • Solicit feedback from students and build relationships
  • Discuss consequences that will occur for failing to abide by expectations (lowered course grade, restricted from attending further class meetings, referred for university disciplinary action, etc.)

How should I confront issues of disruption?

  • Stay calm and listen to concerns expressed – de-escalate vs. intensify
  • Acknowledge the feelings expressed but stay consistent and firm
  • Request that the student comply with the request or request that they leave the space until they can comply
  • Follow up with the student regarding the concern. Request that they comply. Emphasize that policies and standards are in place to ensure optimal student safety and success.
  • Understand that stress is oftentimes at the root of disruptive behavior. Be willing to acknowledge and understand the stress that may be occurring in a student’s life, leading to this behavior.
  • Specifically related to non-compliance with the Protect Purdue Pledge: 1) ask student to comply; 2) if applicable, offer them a mask; 3) if refusal, ask student to leave class; 4) if they refuse to leave, and as a last resort, then instructor, along with all other students, should leave the classroom/situation.

What should I do after a disruption?

  • Report and document the details of the situation. Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) staff will review the report and follow-up with the student as appropriate.
  • Responses may include meeting with the student to connect them the other university resources, utilizing informal disciplinary measures to address the behaviors, or using formal disciplinary processes to address the behaviors. In more serious cases, some responses may include reassigning the student to another course section, restricting the student from attending in person class meetings, and/or potential separation from the university.
  • After considering other options and examining personal biases, it may be appropriate to contact the Purdue University Police Department in those situations where an individual becomes physically violent or threatening. 

Who should I contact if I have further questions?

  • Staff in the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities may be reached at Questions regarding the Protect Purdue Plan may be directed to
This page was last updated in July 2020

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