Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Step 3: Explore Strategies

Explore potential strategies.

Students come to class late.

Students don’t recognize how their lateness affects others.

Students may fail to realize the level of disruption that coming in late creates for their fellow classmates and for you.


Explain the educational and social impact of lateness.

Explain to students that coming late has both intellectual and social costs. Impress upon students that when they arrive late, they detract from their classmates’ learning and interrupt the instructor’s train of thought. Often this occurs at the beginning of class, when the instructor is making connections to previous materials and framing the day’s content in terms of key questions or points. When students come in late they not only miss that important framing information, but the distraction they create may cause their classmates to miss it too. Also, explain the social impact of lateness. Instructors, for example, may interpret lateness as disrespect. Fellow classmates may become annoyed. Informing (or reminding) students how their behavior affects others can sometimes be enough to correct the behavior.

Minimize the disruption.

If being late to class is unavoidable for some students, consider ways to minimize the disruption their late arrival could cause for others in the class. For example, some instructors reserve a set of seats at the back of the room for latecomers.

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