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Faculty Senate » A Guide for Classroom Instructors

Academic Advising Council

Faculty Guide to a Healthy Learning & Positive Classroom Environment
A Guide for Classroom Instructors

The Student Guide to a Healthy Learning & Positive Classroom Environment
The goal of Oregon State University is to provide students with the knowledge, skill and wisdom they need to contribute to society in constructive ways. Policies, procedures, and regulations are formulated to guarantee each student's freedom to learn and to protect the fundamental rights of others. People must treat each other with dignity and respect in order for scholarship to thrive.

In an academic community, students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. Students are expected to adhere to behavioral standards that support and foster a learning environment

Faculty have the professional responsibility to treat students with understanding, dignity and respect, to guide classroom discussion and to set reasonable limits on the manner in which students express opinions.

What can students expect within the Healthy Learning & Positive Classroom Environment According to the Oregon State University Faculty Handbook, the faculty of Oregon State University recognizes and accepts the special responsibilities incumbent on each of its members to develop a learning environment. Students can expect the following actions and responses within the classroom:
  • The development of agreements with the class: During the first session, classroom behavioral agreements will be established. Agreeing to treat one another with respect and courtesy will support an environment conducive to learning.
  • General word of caution: If potentially disruptive behavior is occurring, a general word of caution to the class rather than directed at a particular student may be effective in deterring a problem.
  • Immediate response: If it is necessary to deal with behavior during class, the instructor will do so firmly but politely, and the student will be directed to wait after class to discuss the matter further. Students can expect the instructor to notify the office of Student Conduct & Mediation programs if there is a concern about recurrences in the future.
  • Threatening behavior: If the well-being of the instructor or other students is threatened or harm is imminent, Oregon State Police will be called (7-7000) immediately and have the student removed from the classroom. Following class, the instructor will notify the Office of Student Conduct, and provide pertinent information about the student, the student's behavior, and witnesses to the behavior.
  • Clearly, disruption of teaching hinders the educational process and is prohibited by Oregon Administrative Rule 576-015-0015 (1) and (2). This document offers practical options and responses and FAQs regarding initiating disciplinary proceedings against students for disruptive conduct.
What constitutes "Disruption"? Disruptive behavior is defined as repeated, continuous, or multiple student behaviors that prevent an instructor from teaching and/or students from learning. Examples of disruptive behavior include, but are not limited to:
  • In extreme cases, physical threats, harassing behavior or personal insults, or refusal to comply with faculty direction
  • Interrupting other speakers or persistently speaking without being recognized
  • Behavior that distracts the class from the subject matter or discussion
  • Behavior that a reasonable faculty member would view as interfering with normal academic functions
Some behaviors that disrupt teaching may be caused by emotional or psychological issues the student is experiencing. If students have a documented psychiatric disability they must be registered with Services for Students with Disabilities in order to expect reasonable accommodations. However, even students with documented disabilities are held to the same reasonable standards of conduct as any other OSU student.

What constitutes Harassment
Hazing, harassing, or threatening actions which intentionally subject another person to offensive physical contact, physical injury, or property damage, or which specifically insult another person in his or her immediate presence with words or gestures are prohibited by 576-015-0020 (2) of the Oregon Administrative Rules governing student conduct. These actions, when based on race, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation are among the forms of prohibited behavior. Students engaging in this behavior should be reported to the Office of Student Conduct that will collaborate with the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity on resolving those concerns.

Classroom Etiquette
In most classroom settings, the large majority of students are very respectful of others and never cause problems in class that detract from the overall learning experience. Nonetheless, some problems have increased over the years, and this may be due in part to changes in the culture. For those few students who engage in behavior that disturbs others it is important to remember that when one enters a higher-education classroom you are no longer in high school, you are not in a theater, you are not in a video arcade, you are not at a sporting event or concert. You are in a university classroom, and the expectations of you are very specific. It is important for students to develop an understanding in several important areas right at the beginning of this class.

Everyone benefit from a favorable teaching/learning environment. Distracting behavior works against the establishment of such an environment. This reminder is to draw attention to some common behaviors that interfere with the rights of others to an optimal learning experience. The key to thoughtful behavior is awareness, and this statement is intended to encourage eveloping the habit of automatically thinking of the impact of classroom behavior on others and to help us be considerate to fellow students and to professors and instructors.

It is hoped that everyone will be thoughtful of others in the common teaching/learning endeavor. To do so we sometimes must temper spontaneity and individual expression with restraint. Most importantly, we must cultivate consciousness of the impact on others even of what might appear to be innocent or trivial behavior.

Instructors will advise you regarding the expectations for the class in areas such as:
Activities such as sleeping, reading, and listening to a Walkman during lecture is very rude.

Make sure cell phones are turned off before entering class or leave them outside. The same applies to wristwatch alarms and beepers.