Identifying Students who are Struggling and Taking Action

In the first few weeks of the semester, we are often preoccupied learning student names, creating course materials and getting back into the swing of a busy teaching schedule. This is also a time to be on the lookout for students who might struggle in your course.

Some of the early signs are:

  • Falling asleep
  • Arriving late or not at all
  • Making rude or mean remarks toward you or a classmate
  • Not completing work
  • —and the list goes on

The temptation to ignore some of these behaviors is strong, but there are plenty of reasons to get involved… and to do it sooner rather than later. An intervention does not need to be a full-on confrontation, but merely making the student aware that his or her behavior is affecting others.  Sometimes students do not understand the social norms of a college classroom or perhaps they need to have rules and expectations clarified.

If you are facing challenges, remember that you are not alone and that there are resources to help. Lisa Rodriguez, Ph.D. offers tips for dealing with and preventing many common classroom/student issues

Click here for an 8-step plan for dealing with disruptive students.

Perhaps somewhat more rare, but sadly increasingly common, is to have an emotionally troubled student in class. These tips help you to recognize these students and take appropriate action.

Dealing with disruptive students can be frustrating and can sometimes leave you feeling drained. Keep in mind that this is not an issue reserved for new faculty, at some point all faculty experience these challenges. Seek the support of your colleagues, department chair and experienced faculty.

Course Design

Effective course design is about more than just a syllabus. It involves consideration of learning goals, the needs of your students and so much more.  Vanderbilt University offers helpful strategies for creating a course using practical and commonsense strategies and frameworks.  Build into your course design specific methods for fostering learning in the classroom. For both new and experienced faculty, these 19 lessons about teaching will resonate.

Universal course design (UCD) aims to meet the needs of all students and can make your classroom a place where all learners have not only equal access to information, but also equal access to the learning process. Watch a video from the University of Massachusetts about the benefits of UCD or learn more about best practices for working with diverse populations of learners using Universal Design for Learning. There is so much to consider about your online course. The Magna article entitled, Creating an Ethical Online Environment might help you to foster an atmosphere of respect, tolerance and engagement.