Explore Strategies - Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University

Step 3: Explore Strategies

Explore potential strategies.

One student monopolizes class

Student's behavior is symptomatic of a larger problem in the class.

When a student monopolizes discussion or derails a lecture with tangential questions or excessive commentary, he may be subtly (or not so subtly) challenging the instructor's authority. While sometimes just a matter of individual personality, this sort of behavior can also be symptomatic of larger problems, such as low morale or lack of respect for the instructor. Thus, it's important to address the immediate behavior while also considering issues that may underlie it.

Strategies:

Respond to the immediate situation.

Gather early course feedback.

Identify and address structural problems in the course.


Respond to the immediate situation.

When a student begins to dominate discussion (especially if he is rude or inappropriate), don’t ignore it. The problem can easily spread as other students become irritated, disengage, or start to follow suit. Any number of responses might be appropriate, depending on the attitude of the student and the severity of the problem. Sometimes a pointed look or comment in class can deter a student who is testing limits; sometimes you’ll need to talk to the student outside of class. Be aware, though, that problems with individual students can be symptomatic of larger problems in the course (e.g., frustration with your grading policies, resentment of perceived unfairness), so consider the larger context as well. The Eberly Center can help you brainstorm effective ways to respond to the immediate situation and to determine whether there are larger issues that require attention.

Gather early course feedback.

Find out if there are broader problems of morale or motivation in your course by gathering early course feedback. Early course feedback give you a chance to collect feedback from students while there is still an opportunity to make changes. Here are sample feedback forms evaluations and guidance on how to use them. An Eberly Center consultant would be happy to help you review student feedback and plan an appropriate response.

Identify and address structural problems in the course.

If you determine that there are morale problems in your course that go beyond an individual student, consider coming to the Eberly Center for a consultation. We can work with you to identify the source(s) of the problem and brainstorm solutions that would be appropriate for your teaching context.

This site supplements our 1-on-1 teaching consultations.
CONTACT US to talk with an Eberly colleague in person!

 

learning principles

  1. Students’ prior knowledge can help or hinder learning. MORE>
  2. How students organize knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know. MORE>
  3. Students’ motivation determines, directs, and sustains what they do to learn. MORE>
  4. To develop mastery, students must acquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when to apply what they have learned. MORE>
  5. Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback enhances the quality of students’ learning. MORE>
  6. Students’ current level of development interacts with the social, emotional, and intellectual climate of the course to impact learning. MORE>
  7. To become self-directed learners, students must learn to monitor and adjust their approaches to learning. MORE>