Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Individual students have emotional/psychological problems

Individual students have emotional/psychological problems

Students with psychological problems, drug-related problems, or poor impulse control may act inappropriately in class. Generally, the instructor can tell if there is something going on with a particular student, even if she is unable to diagnose the problem specifically.

Use campus resources.

Inappropriate behavior in class can sometimes indicate larger and more serious problems for the student. Before talking to the student one on one, you might want to seek advice from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) about the best way to proceed. You may also want to contact the Dean of Student Affairs to see if the student in question is exhibiting similar patterns in his/her other classes.

Talk to the student outside of class.

If, after seeking advice from campus resources, you decide the problem is one you can work out yourself, you might want to quietly pull the student in question aside after class to remind him about your course policies, review the ground rules for discussion, and/or explain how his behavior affects you and the other students. The student may or may not be aware that the behavior is inappropriate, so simply bringing it to his attention may be enough to solve the problem.

If you have any suspicion that the student could be dangerous to him/herself or to you, however, go directly to campus resources and do not try to handle the problem on your own.

This site supplements our 1-on-1 teaching consultations.
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