Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Step 3: Explore Strategies

Explore potential strategies.

One student monopolizes class

Student has emotional, psychological, or substance-related issues.

If the student seems manic, inappropriate, or unable to control her behavior in class, it’s possible that emotional, psychological or substance-related issues may be involved. Warning signs can include lack of awareness of or inability to control the behavior in question, sudden changes in academic performance, etc. Generally, you can tell whether something unusual is going on, even if you are not sure what it is.


Remain calm.

Use campus resources.

Remain calm.

While sudden outbursts or disruptive behavior can be emotionally challenging for even the most experienced instructors, it is important to maintain a professional demeanor with the student.  Try to maintain a calm demeanor, and remember that your role is not to solve the problem yourself, but rather to contact the appropriate campus authorities.

Use campus resources.

If you suspect an emotional, psychological, or substance-related problem, don’t try to diagnose or address it yourself. Rather, call your Associate Dean, your college’s Student Affairs liaison, or Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to discuss your situation. Any one of these contacts can direct you to appropriate resources and help you decide how to proceed.

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