You are on page 1of 15

10 Effective Classroom

Management Techniques
Every Faculty Member
Should Know

Brought to you by

10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques
Every Faculty Member Should Know
Effective classroom management is much more than just administering corrective
measures when a student misbehaves; it's about developing proactive ways to prevent
problems from occurring in the first place while creating a positive learning environment.

Establishing that climate for learning is one of the most challenging aspects of teaching,
and one of the most difficult skills to master. For those new to the profession, failure to set
the right tone will greatly hinder your effectiveness as a teacher. Indeed, even experienced
faculty may sometimes feel frustrated by classroom management issues. Strategies that
worked for years suddenly become ineffective in the face of some of the challenges
today’s students bring with them to the classroom.

Brought to you by The Teaching Professor, this special report features 10 proven
classroom management techniques from those on the front lines who’ve met the chal-
lenges head-on and developed creative responses that work with today’s students. This
report will teach you practical ways to create favorable conditions for learning, including
how to:
• Get the semester off on the right foot
• Prevent cheating
• Incorporate classroom management principles into the syllabus
• Handle students who participate too much
• Establish relationships with students
• Use a contract to help get students to accept responsibility
• Employ humor to create conditions conducive to learning

The goal of 10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member

Should Know is to provide actionable strategies and no-nonsense solutions for creating a
positive learning environment – whether you’re a seasoned educator or someone who’s
just starting out.

Maryellen Weimer
The Teaching Professor

2 10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know •
Table of Contents
How to Get Wet without Plunging In: Creative Ways to Start Class ..............................................................................4

Making a Syllabus More Than a Contract ................................................................................................................5

Conditions Associated with Classroom Conflict ........................................................................................................6

Getting to Know You: The Importance of Establishing Relationships ........................................................................7

Those Students Who Participate Too Much ................................................................................................................8

10 Things to Make the First Day (and the Rest) of the Semester Successful ............................................................9

Use ‘Stuff Happens’ Cards to Handle Student Excuses ............................................................................................10

Humor: Getting a Handle on What’s Appropriate ....................................................................................................11

A Behavior Contract That Made a Difference ..........................................................................................................12

Preventing Cheating: Do Faculty Beliefs Make a Difference? ..................................................................................13

10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know • 3
same puzzle—I don’t make the

How to Get Wet without Plunging puzzles different colors in this case.

Roundtable Review
In: Creative Ways to Start Class With this activity, I have students
get out a sheet of paper and write a
list of numbers from one to ten. Then
I instruct them to put one important
By Patty Kohler-Evans idea from the previous lecture on the
first line. The paper is passed to the
person on the left. Each time the
paper is passed, the person receiving
tarting a lecture can be chal- only a few minutes and gets students

S lenging: getting everyone

seated, attentive, and ready to
move forward with the content can
active and focused.

Piece the Puzzle

the paper writes a different idea.
After a few minutes I call time, and
the papers go back to the original
owner. This represents a collection of
take several minutes. I have found For this activity I break the content
ideas for future review and study.
that sometimes it feels abrupt and from the last lecture into four or five
I have found that the preparation
disjointed, especially when it has sections. Then I take key points from
for these activities takes very little
been a week since the last class each section and make them into
time and that the results are very
meeting, so I’ve been working on jigsaw puzzles, one puzzle for each
worthwhile. My students anticipate
strategies that help me get a class
the activities, and I look forward to
going without wasting time and that
having the students in a place where
get all the students engaged and I now begin each lesson with a they are ready to learn.
ready to learn. I now begin each
lesson with a creative review of the creative review of the last
last week’s materials. The reviews
involve a variety of techniques for week’s materials. The reviews
getting students to reflect on previous
content and ready to move on to new
involve a variety of techniques
information. They also help with for getting students to reflect
building relationships, a critical
component of teacher-student inter- on previous content and ready
actions. Here are some of the strate-
gies that I think work best to to move on to new information.
accomplish these goals.

Who’s Your Partner? section, with five or six pieces per

Using sticky-back name tags, I put puzzle. I jumble the pieces and give a
three or four names that go together set of puzzles to each group of
on the tags. Some examples are John, students. I generally make each set of
Paul, Ringo, and George, or Bill, puzzles on a different color of paper
Chelsea, and Hillary. I then randomly and put the jumbled pieces in a
put the name tags on the backs of Ziploc bag. Each group completes all
students. The students are allowed to the puzzles. This requires them to
find their partners by asking only yes categorize previously learned infor-
and no questions. When they find the mation. I like to engage in competi-
rest of their group, I have them work tion for prizes from the local dollar
on a short review assignment. This store. The first table to complete all
can be a list of questions from the the puzzles correctly wins the prize.
previous week’s content or a reflec- Another variation is to give each
tion or anything that requires that student a piece of a puzzle and have
they work together. The process of the student locate the other four or
finding the rest of the group takes five students who have pieces to the

4 10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know •
I was reluctant to share much more

Making a Syllabus More power than that.

My former one-page syllabus was

Than a Contract now 10 pages and included a short

philosophical statement on learning
to write along with writing- and
learning-related justifications for
every policy and procedure. In an
By Roxanne Cullen effort to make the syllabus a working
part of the course in which students
discovered for themselves what they
needed to know about the course, I
or years I’ve introduced my outside resources, and the general

F course syllabus by saying, “This

is your contract for the course.”
And all too often the document read
focus of the syllabus: Does it focus
on policies and procedures or is it
weighted toward student learning
had them write their first essay on
the syllabus. I asked them to consider
things like their expectations of the
class, what they thought my expecta-
more like a contract than a true rep- outcomes? Is there opportunity for
tions were, what they thought they
resentation of my conceptualization negotiation of policies, procedures,
knew about me, and what their roles
of the course. So I revised my intro- assignment choice, etc.? In the
and responsibilities included.
ductory composition course syllabus category Evaluation and
I was actually eager to read the
in an attempt to create a more Assessment, the subcategories
essays. In some respects, I felt that
learner-centered academic experi- examine the use of grades, the
my work was being evaluated by
ence. Although these elements have feedback mechanisms employed,
them, which provided an interesting
been at the core of my teaching, my types of evaluation, learning
twist on power and control. Their
syllabus did not necessarily make outcomes, and opportunities for
essays became another feedback
them explicit or clearly articulate revising or redoing assignments.
mechanism for me. Equally if not
their function to the students. Based A review of my syllabus inspired
more interesting was the conversa-
on advice I found in several resources me to revise. I made several changes
tion among the students as they
regarding the syllabus, I came to see to emphasize the concept of
prepared to write. I use WebCT, so I
that a teacher needs to consider the community. Although I have always
suggested to students that they use
ways a syllabus can be useful to provided rationales for assignments
the discussion board tool as a
students. My goal was to make my when I talked about them in class, I
prewriting strategy. The discussion
syllabus more than the standard added a rationale statement for as-
was lively and, I believe, productive.
contract between my students and signments in the syllabus. I also
Even students who had been
me. I wanted it to become a tool for provided rationales for all policies
reluctant to participate in class dis-
learning. and procedures so that they would
cussions about the syllabus weighed
I began by analyzing my syllabus look less like arbitrary laws set down
in online with great authority
using a rubric that I developed with a by the teacher and more as though
regarding their interpretation of it.
colleague based upon principles of they served enhanced learning. I also
My syllabus is still a work in
learner-centered pedagogy. The incorporated more teamwork and col-
progress. Most important, at this
original design of the rubric was as a laborative projects, again with a
point, is the tone my new syllabus
tool for administrators to determine rationale tied to learning outcomes.
has set for the semester. Making the
the degree of learner-centeredness in Finally, I made an effort throughout
first essay a response to the syllabus
a department or unit based upon a to disclose information about myself,
has focused more thought and time
review of course syllabi. The rubric mostly in regard to my experience as
on it than in any of my previous
has three main categories, each with a composition teacher and a writer.
classes. It has served as a catalyst for
several subcategories. The main The most significant change I made
discussion, for setting goals, and for
category, Community, includes sub- was in the area of power and control.
discussing writing. It has focused our
categories that relate to the accessi- Instead of establishing an attendance
attention on learning and made every
bility of the teacher, the presence of policy, class participation rules, or
aspect of the course intentional. This
learning rationale, and evidence of penalties for late work, I indicated
syllabus is much more than the
collaboration. In the category Power that all of these would be negotiated
standard contract between my
and Control, the subcategories focus by the class. Because the course is
students and me.
on teacher and student roles; use of populated by first-semester students,

10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know • 5
learning related inversely with inat-

Conditions Associated with tentive classroom conflict.” (p. 182)

Hostile conflict—as in challenging,

Classroom Conflict open resistance—was found to be

related to “whether faculty expressed
care toward students, communicated
respect, behaved sensitively, and
remained warm and engaged.” (p.
By Maryellen Weimer 184) Faculty who did not approach
students in these ways reported
higher levels of conflict. And these
faculty behaviors were also found to
tudents can and do regularly unrelated to many characteristics of

S disrupt the classroom.

Sometimes they are openly
hostile, challenging the teacher’s
courses or instructors.” (p. 183)
In other words, things like the in-
structor’s gender, race, age, years of
be most effective at reducing conflict.
The researchers describe these
methods as “working alliances” and
report results that suggest faculty
authority and objecting to course re- teaching experience, full-time versus
build them when they attend “to the
quirements and classroom policies. part-time status, and class size did
emotional bonds that exist in the
More often, the conflict grows out of not relate to the amount of reported
classroom,” when they promote “a
their inattentiveness and passivity. conflict. These findings are at odds
common sense of purpose when
They arrive late, leave early, talk
teaching,” and when students are
during class, and don’t even bother
treated respectfully despite agree-
to hide their boredom. Hostile conflict—as in ments. (p. 185) Even though more
Faculty researchers (reference
challenging, open resistance— than 61 percent of this sample
below) wondered whether character-
reported that they ignored conflict
istics of courses and instructors might
be associated with conflict. They also was found to be related to and the behaviors associated with it,
this strategy was related to poorer
wondered whether instructors’ prepa-
ration and caring attitude toward
“whether faculty expressed outcomes.
In sum, based on these findings,
students related to the presence or care toward students, faculty are well advised, yet again, to
absence of students’ disruptive
take seriously their relationships with
behaviors. And they were curious as communicated respect, students. In this case it seems that an
to how instructors went about
behaved sensitively, and ounce of prevention may well be
resolving conflict and whether they
worth the pound of cure.
perceived the techniques they used as
being successful.
remained warm and engaged.”
Reference: Meyers, S.A., Bender, J.,
To find answers to these questions
Hill, E.K., and Thomas, S.Y. (2006).
and to document whether the differ- with some previous research that has
How do faculty experience and
ences between hostile and inattentive documented that students tend to
respond to classroom conflict?
conflict were real, they surveyed a challenge the authority of female pro-
International Journal of Teaching and
national sample of psychology profes- fessors and faculty of color more
Learning in Higher Education, 18 (3),
sors. Faculty who completed a 71- often than they challenge white male
item questionnaire were asked to faculty. Other research results do not
answer while thinking about a single find correlations between instructor
course they had taught recently in characteristics and such things as
which they experienced a high level student ratings of instructor effective-
of student conflict. ness.
Analysis of the survey results docu- However, these researchers did find
mented a number of important some interesting correlations between
findings. First, the hypothesis about instructional methods and conflict.
there being two different kinds of For example, “the use of lecture cor-
conflict was confirmed. Second, “we related directly with inattentive
found that the amount of conflict that classroom conflict. On the other
faculty reported was actually hand, using discussion or active

6 10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know •
comfortable having me know. A com-

Getting to Know You: mercially available product that

generates this information is the

The Importance of Establishing Learning Express-ways™ folder.

Asking for written feedback

Relationships I frequently ask for written
comments at the end of lectures.
Students may comment about the
class, express a concern, or share
By Patty Kohler-Evans other information. I respond to all
comments in writing and return them
at the next class. Sometimes I ask
students to rate their understanding
bout two or three semesters faithful friend. In some cases

A ago, I conducted an informal

experiment with two of my
classes. With one, on the first night
students don’t know what their name
means. I have found that they are
very willing to do some research to
on a 1-to-10 scale, and sometimes I
ask for a brief reflection.
Since I have started to invest more
time in getting to know my students,
of class, I asked students their names find out what it means and to then
I have noticed that my relationships
and major courses of study. I intro- share that information with the rest
with them have improved in
duced myself in much the same way, of the class.
numerous ways. When students
with a brief statement about my
come to me after the course has
chosen field. With the other class, I T-shirt collage ended, I still remember their names
spent time during the first and Sometimes I have students
and something about them. I have
second class sessions on activities introduce themselves to each other
also noticed that I have more
designed to acquaint students with by creating a T-shirt that represents
students asking questions about their
each other and establish how we who they are. I supply each student
chosen fields. They regularly tell me
would conduct the class. I used what with a pre-drawn T-shirt pattern on a
that they value the activities as well. I
I learned about students that first sheet of paper. I ask students to use
believe that the time invested in rela-
night throughout the rest of the magazine pictures, markers, crayons,
tionship building increases students’
course. When I compared feedback etc., to design the shirt.
motivation and commitment to the
from the two classes, I was amazed Usually, I bring all the materials to
course. Recently, I overheard one
at the differences between the two. class. Students tend to talk to each
student commenting to another about
For example, one student from the other about themselves as they are
a group assignment that I had made.
second class noted that these activi- designing their T-shirts. I do a shirt
She was admonishing her fellow
ties made the class more “user too. I believe this shows students that
classmate to seek out other students
friendly.” He left class looking I value this activity. Students seem to
who were different as a way to enrich
forward to the rest of the semester. really enjoy doing this activity, and
the experience. Whether these
I’d like to share some of the activi- they usually work very hard to
examples are a direct result of the re-
ties I used to get students connected include multiple aspects of them-
lationship building I can’t say for
with each other and with me. selves in the collage. Students listen
sure, but I am convinced that it does
attentively when it’s time to share the
make a better climate for learning in
What’s in a name? T-shirt collages, and even at the end
my classes.
When students introduce them- of the semester they still remember
selves, I ask them to tell us their information about their classmates.
name and also to share what that
name means, if they know that; to Identification of personal
talk about the individual for whom interests
they were named; and to indicate In many of my classes, I ask
whether or not they like their name. I students to share information about
have also asked whether they live their personal interests and learning
their name. For instance, my name, preferences. I use a questionnaire to
“Patricia,” means loyal. I tell students obtain this information, and I tell
that fits because I am generally a students to only share what they are

10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know • 7
It may be useful to talk privately

Those Students Who Participate with the student who is participating

too much. It may help to make clear

Too Much how and why too much communica-

tion from one student inhibits the
learning of others. Perhaps the
student could be encouraged to move
his or her participation to the next
By Maryellen Weimer level by not just answering questions,
but asking them; by not just making
comments, but specifically respond-
ing to things other students say in
hat would we do without Generally teachers do not rebuke

W those few students who are

always ready to speak—
who make a stab at an answer when
the over-participator in public.
Researchers in the study mentioned
below asked students what they
Participation norms are established
early in the course. If a teacher holds
fast to hearing from lots of students
no one else will, who ask for clarifi- expected teachers to do about fellow
right from the start, that norm will be
cation when they are confused, who classmates who over-participated.
established and can be maintained
even respond to things other students They found that students expect
throughout the course.
say in class? Most of those students teachers to manage compulsive com-
we would like to clone. But then municators through management
Reference: McPherson, M. B., and
there are those who communicate to strategies that are not rude or
Liang, Y. (2007). Students’ reactions
excess. They would answer every demeaning. Students “do not want to
to teachers’ management of compul-
question if we let them. They would witness a fellow student subjected to
sive communicators. Communication
happily dominate every classroom negative sanctions when it comes to
Education, 56 (1), 18-33.
discussion if allowed. We call these this particular transgression.” (p. 28)
students the over-participators; in the When teachers do not address the
research literature they are known as problem, according to this research,
compulsive communicators, and re- students rate them lower on
searchers estimate that a bit more measures of credibility and affect or
then 5 percent of students fall into liking. In fact, doing nothing about
this category. compulsive communicators results in
The rest of the class loves and even more negative student percep-
hates these classmates. They are tions than does addressing the
loved because they take the pressure problem punitively.
off everyone else. They are hated What’s the best advice, based on
because they speak so much. Their this research? Address the problem
endless contributions soon bore using positive and constructive com-
others. And they are hated because munication strategies. It helps to
they make those who struggle to con- have a discussion early in the course
tribute feel woefully incompetent. about the characteristics of effective
Their behavior also presents all discussion and teacher-student
sorts of problems for the teacher, exchanges. If students are asked to
who would love to call on somebody describe those conversations that
else, but often that familiar hand is hold their attention and help them
the only one in the air. Generally learn, they are usually quick to name
over-participators are bright students. the over-participation problem and
They care about the content and have state preferences for dialogue in
the level of motivation a teacher which many people participate.
would like to see in all students. But Teachers should design participation
their determination to keep them- activities that require the contribu-
selves always at the center of discus- tions of many: small groups present-
sion tests in most of us the patience ing brief reports, sharing examples,
and commitment to participate. or offering summaries.

8 10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know •
7. After the introductions and the

10 Things to Make the First Day explanation of the folder and box
system, I turn to the “Today we will”

(and the Rest) of the Semester list that I’ve written on the board,
posted on a large paper flip-chart, or
projected on the screen. I like to
Successful actually write this list on the board,
so I can return to it even while pro-
jecting my notes. A “today we will”
list outlines my plan for the day. For
By Mary C. Clement example, for the first day, my “today
we will list” says:
• See screen for instruction for card
and folder.
like to arrive in the classroom well 3. When it’s time for class to

• Introductions
before the students. It gives me start—start class! Late arrivals can • Turn in folders
time to get things organized. I catch up by reading the screen. • Go over syllabus completely
create an entrance table (I use chairs • Mini-lecture on ___________
or desks if there’s no table) that 4. For classes of 25 or less, I have • Interest inventory
holds handouts for students to pick students do brief, 10-second introduc- • Do you know what to read/do
up. From day one the students learn tions. I tell them there will be a before the next class?
the routine: they arrive, pick up verbal quiz after all the introductions
handouts on the entrance table, and and that they can win stars if they Note: The “today we will” list lets
read the screen for instructions. They know who is who. (Have fun with me walk around the room, teach
know what to do, and it saves time. this, but remember that these are from the projection system, and then
Here’s how I recommend introducing adults and college is not like junior look at the list for what I should do
the routine on day one. high.) next. I tend not to forget things if I
have the list. As the semester pro-
1. Post your name and the name 5. For larger classes, I have gresses, the “today we will” list
and section of the class on the students introduce themselves to might contain warm-up questions
screen, so that when students walk in three or four people around them, that then appear as test questions.
they know that they are in the right and then we might do “stand-ups”— The list helps students who arrive
place. stand up if you are a Spanish major, late or leave early see what they have
stand up if you are an education missed.
2. Write “welcome” on the screen major, and so on. I explain that
and have directions that tell students students need to know each other for 8. The mini-lesson/mini-lecture—
what they need to do immediately. our small group work, and in case whether it’s a short overview of the
Example: “As you enter, please tell they have a question. first reading assignment, some
me your name. Then pick up a sample problems, or 10 interesting
syllabus, a card, and a folder from 6. I collect the file folders and put questions students will be able to
the entrance table. Fold the card so them alphabetically by student name answer at the end of the course, I
that it will stand on your desk, and into a big plastic carrying case. When strongly recommend doing some
write your first name on it in BIG students need to turn in assignments, course content on the first day. For
letters. Add your last name and major they find the box on the entrance classes that last longer than 50
in smaller print. Write your name on table and they put their papers in minutes, I include a short student
the tab of the folder, (last name first, their respective folders. When papers activity. I also think it’s important to
then first name). Read the syllabus are graded, they can pull their graded begin with course material on day
until class starts.” [Note: By asking tests or assignments from their one so that students begin to see who
students to tell you their name as folders. The beauty of this system is you are and how you teach. Since I
they enter, you can hear how the that time is never wasted by passing teach courses in teacher education, I
name is pronounced, and avoid the out papers. For small classes, I put often talk about my teaching career. I

embarrassment of pronouncing it for handouts in the folders of absent
the first time yourself.] students.

10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know • 9
FROM PAGE 9 about content—maybe solve a 10. Every good class has an intro-
problem, write a short paragraph or duction, a body, and a conclusion. I
include a few stories about how answer specific questions. Finally usually teach the mini-lesson, and
times have changed and about how open-ended questions are useful: then save the last six to eight minutes
some things in teaching never • What are your goals after of class for the interest inventory and
change. graduation? individual questions. This way,
• What has a teacher done in the students don’t have to wait on others
9. Interest inventories are great for past that helped you to learn to finish. I instruct students to turn in
the first day of class. An interest ___________ ? their interest inventory as they exit.
inventory is just a short list of • Is there anything else that you As they are writing, I alphabetize
questions about students’ back- want me to know about you and their folders and put them in the box
grounds and interests. It may assess your course of study? on the table. Another good closure is
their prior learning as well. In You can always add one fun to ask if they know what to read/do
addition to name and major, students question: before the next class, and if they
can write about a hobby, interest, or • If your song played when you know three people to ask about the
goal. Do not be too personal. You can entered the room, what would assignment if they have a question.
have them answer several questions that song be?

Use ‘Stuff Happens’ Cards to Handle

Student Excuses
By Maryellen Weimer

tudents and excuses seem to go student’s name. In the syllabus (and semester. When it does and the

S hand in hand. Sometimes the

excuses result from real events
and personal problems that legiti-
in class) she explains that this is a
student’s “one time only” forgiveness
card. If a student is late for class or
student presents the excuse or
excuses, the teacher once again faces
the problems described at the
mately prevent a student from being might need a one-day extension on a beginning of the article. However,
in class, completing an assignment paper, the student may trade the Professor Feenstra notes that the
on time, or doing what some other “Stuff Happens” card for this “Stuff Happens” card takes care of
policy or procedure may stipulate. exception. Students don’t have to get most emergency situations. It covers
Not having the wisdom of Solomon, her approval or permission to use the the conscientious student who may
most faculty struggle to fairly adjudi- card. Use of it is entirely at their dis- occasionally have a problem. Other
cate between the real and unreal cretion. However, each student gets students are probably going to need
reasons offered for noncompliance. only one card, which is not transfer- more instructor feedback anyway.
Professor Daniela A. Feenstra, who able and won’t be replaced if lost.
teaches a variety of business classes If no “stuff happens” during a
at Central Pennsylvania College, has given a semester and a student
developed an interesting way through follows all classroom policies and
this dilemma. On the first day of class procedures, the “Stuff Happens” card
she gives each student a “Stuff may be traded in the last week of
Happens” card. It’s about the size of class for 20 bonus points.
a business card and also includes the Sometimes more than one “stuff
semester date and a place for the happens” event may occur during the

10 10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know •
Examples in this second category

Humor: Getting a Handle on include some teasing of student

groups or individual students, or

What’s Appropriate some stereotypical student behavior

such as procrastinating.
The remainder of the appropriate
examples were self-disparaging humor
in which the instructor made jokes or
By Mary C. Clement told stories that poked fun at or
belittled him or herself. Then there
was a very small category of uninten-
he contribution that humor as using weird names in math word tional or unplanned humor when

T makes to learning is well estab-

lished in research. It is not that
humor causes learning; rather, it helps
problems; referring to aspects of
content with humorous names, such
as calling bacteria “baby beasties”;
something funny happened sponta-
neously in class.
Equally valuable in this research is
the analysis of inappropriate humor,
to create conditions conducive to using different voices; wearing funny
learning. It helps learners relax, allevi- clothing; or telling stories about for which students offered 513
ates stress, and often makes it easier family or college days. The best news examples, which researchers again
for students and teachers to connect is that all of these kinds of humor placed in four categories: disparaging
personally. The presence of humor in have the same positive impact on humor targeting students, disparaging
a classroom can be very beneficial. learning environments. humor targeting others, offensive
But there are a couple of problems. The purpose of the study referenced humor, and self-disparaging humor.
First, faculty often don’t think of below was to identify what students More than 40 percent of the
themselves as funny—some are, but consider appropriate and inappropri- examples fell into the first category
most academics would not make a ate humor. Researchers did that by where instructors disparaged students
living as stand-up comedians. In fact, asking 284 undergraduates to list individually or collectively. Students
any number of faculty cannot success- several examples of “appropriate and were disparaged for their lack of intel-
fully tell a joke, even after carefully suitable” humor and then asking ligence, gender, or appearance, as
rehearsing the lines and easing their them to do the same for humor that well as for their opinions.
tension with liquid libations. So, how was “offensive and/or not fitting for When the disparaging humor
might a serious academic find his or the class.” The students had no targeted others, it used stereotypes
her way to humor that works in the trouble identifying examples in both and such specific group characteristics
classroom? categories. as gender, race/ethnicity, or university
And then there’s the problem of This student sample generated 712 affiliation. Some inappropriate humor
propriety. Not all humor is appropri- examples of appropriate teacher examples were listed as offensive
ate, especially given the commitment humor, which researchers placed in because they contained sexual
of higher education to cultural four different categories. The first, material or vulgar verbal or nonverbal
respect, diversity, and equality. If you which contained almost half the listed expressions, or they were too
can’t make jokes about ethnicity, examples, researchers called “related personal.
politics, religion, or sex, is there humor.” This humor linked with In conclusion, researchers
anything left for one-liners? course materials; examples included a encourage faculty to explore humor
Fortunately some recent research physics instructor who regularly related to the course content. Students
offers help on both fronts. For faculty played with a Slinky to demonstrate always considered it appropriate.
who don’t think they can be funny in certain physics principles or another Moreover, many reported that it
the classroom, there is a wide range who used course material in jokes: helped them relate and recall
of different kinds of humor. Options “What do you call someone who likes important course information.
abound. Early research (referenced to go out a lot?” Answer: “Fungi.”
below) identified seven different kinds The second category was unrelated Reference: Wanzer, M. B., Frymier,
of humor: funny stories, funny humor. These first two categories A. B., Wojtaszczyk, A. M., and Smith,
comments, jokes, professional humor, contained more than 90 percent of the T. 2006. Appropriate and inappropri-
puns, cartoons, and riddles. And each examples students provided, although ate uses of humor by teachers.
of these kinds of humor can be researchers note that there was Communication Education 55 (2):
employed with great creativity, such overlap between the two categories. 178–96.

10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know • 11
phones, and any disruptive

A Behavior Contract That behavior as defined by each

professor, etc.

Made a Difference 5.I understand it is my responsibility

to take the online content pre- and
post-test(s) by the assigned
6.I understand it is my responsibility
By Lori Norin and Tom Walton to complete the written pre- and
post-assessment(s) by the
assigned date (PRCA, Speech
t seemed that almost every day we At the end of each semester, we Anxiety, Listening).

I would come back to our offices

after our speech classes with a
frown on our faces and the need to tell
revise the document based on the
events of the previous semester. For
example, we added a statement con-
7.I understand it is my responsibility
to complete all assignments on
time and that there are penalties
for late assignments (if allowed) at
a story about the latest shenanigans cerning the campus electronic policy
that happened in class. A student “ac- based on a serious plagiarism case each professor’s discretion.
cidentally” showed an inappropriate that occurred in one of our sections. 8.I agree that if I don’t understand
image on a PowerPoint slide during Once it became prevalent and blatant, an assignment it is my responsibil-
his speech. A student walked in 20 we added a statement about text ity to ask for clarification.
minutes late during a classmate’s messaging in class. Some of our other 9.I understand my professor’s policy
speech—with a pizza in one hand, a colleagues are using contracts similar about being tardy and the conse-
Mountain Dew in the other, and a cell to ours, and they report the same quences of not following his/her
phone on one ear. A student refused to positive effect. We hope that by policy.
give her speech as scheduled and sharing our contract, you will consider 10. I understand the ramifications of
dared us to do something about it. how it might help in creating an ideal missing a scheduled speaking day.
Finally, one day we decided we had learning environment in your 11. I understand that should I miss
had enough. We created a list of be- classroom. class it is my responsibility to get
havioral expectations, which we asked any handouts, etc.
students to sign, and thus was born Classroom Ethics Contract 12. I understand it is my responsibil-
the Speech Department Behavior 1.I received, read, and understand ity to check my e-mail daily or
Contract. Since then it has grown into the department general syllabus weekly depending on my
a well-defined instrument that has had for this course, including the at- professor’s guidelines.
as much impact on student retention, tendance policy. 13. I understand it is my responsibil-
success, and well-being as any other 2.I understand failure to sign an at- ity to follow directions and that
strategy we have added to the curricu- tendance sheet at the appropriate failure to do so will result in a loss
lum. time and date results in me being of points.
Initially the document contained 10 marked absent. 14. I understand it is my responsibil-
items—rudimentary things like 3.I verify that my professor has ity to read and follow the
students taking responsibility for requested that I meet with Electronic Communications Policy.
reading the syllabus, signing the atten- him/her first should I have any The link is available at the bottom
dance sheet, taking the pretests and concerns about the conduct of the of the UA-Fort Smith homepage
pre-assessments, meeting deadlines, course. If that meeting does not http://www.
etc., and understanding the conse- resolve the concerns, then my
quences of making excuses for missing professor will recommend I meet 15. I understand I should not enter
speeches. Even in its early format, the with the department’s lead faculty the classroom during a student
contract positively impacted retention member or department chair. speech. I should wait to hear
and behavior in the classroom as 4.I understand that my professor applause and then enter.
observed by us and noted by our expects respect from everyone in 16. I understand that plagiarism of
dean. Students told us that they appre- the classroom at all times. This any kind will not be tolerated and
ciated the precise listing of their re- includes rules about sleeping, in- may result in receiving a zero (0)
sponsibilities because it made the appropriate talking, rudeness, for the assignment, withdrawal
rules and consequences clear. doing homework, answering cell PAGE 13
12 10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know •
FROM PAGE 12 MP3 players must be turned off mental document.
during class and that each 21. I understand that failure to sign
from the course, or suspension professor may, at his/her discre- this document does not exclude
from the university. tion, enforce a consequence for me from its requirements.
17. I understand that cell phones any music being played during
must be turned off or turned to class. Student Signature:
vibrate during class and that 19. I read, understand, and agree to _________________________
each professor may, at his/her abide by the student handbook
discretion, enforce a consequence guidelines for classroom ethics. Class Time:
for any cell phone ringing or text 20. I understand that each __________________________
messaging during class. professor may add additional
18. I understand that iPods and/or rules in writing to this depart-

Preventing Cheating: Do Faculty Beliefs

Make a Difference?
By Maryellen Weimer

We believe that student beliefs “Looking at the data this way leads to the actual frequency of misconduct.”

“ about their peers … can

influence misconduct, while
faculty beliefs about student academic
a different conclusion from examina-
tion of overall misconduct rates.” (p.
(p. 1076) As for the actual hypotheses
about faculty beliefs, they were
verified. “Our results showed that
misconduct can influence efforts to The activity students reported doing faculty members who underestimate
prevent and challenge the miscon- least often was “improperly” the frequency of misconduct very
duct.” (p. 1059) Said another way, the acquiring or distributing exams. The rarely take action to challenge
researchers (citation below) are afraid activity they reported doing most students’ misconduct.” (p. 1076)
that if students think that a lot of their often involved working with another Their results also verified the reverse.
peers are cheating, it will increase the student on material that would be Faculty who overestimated the extent
likelihood that they will cheat. And, if submitted for grading when the in- of cheating were more solicitous in
faculty believe that lots of students structor had not authorized collabora- their efforts to prevent it.
are cheating, they will do more to tion with others. Results here Researchers advise that both faculty
prevent it. Conversely, if faculty don’t replicated another finding docu- and students should be provided
think academic dishonesty is much of mented by previous research: males accurate information as to the extent
a problem in their classes, they will reported more incidents of miscon- of academic misconduct occurring at
do less to prevent it and make it duct than females. an institution. Faculty “need to send
easier for students to get away with it. These researchers found that for [the] message to students through
This study did reaffirm that every one of the 16 behaviors of prevention and detection efforts.” (p.
cheating among students (at this insti- academic dishonesty, students 1076)
tution), as reported by students, is believed that their peers were
widespread. More than 90 percent of engaging in those behaviors more Reference: Hard, S. F., Conway, J.
the more than 400 students in this often than their peers reported. The M., and Moran, A C. (2006). Faculty
sample admitted that they had researchers worried that these inaccu- and college student beliefs about the
cheated at least once. The researchers rate beliefs empower students to cheat frequency of student academic mis-
pointed out that data on cheating that more since they believe that conduct. Journal of Higher Education,
differentiates between if and how “everyone else” is doing it. 77 (6), 1058-1080.
often are not generally reported. Faculty in this study “overestimated

10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know • 13
Reach, Motivate,
and Inspire
Your Students!

The acclaimed newsletter A MUST read for:

• Teaching professors
Exceptional Value!
1 full year … as low as $89!
devoted to the art and • Academic deans Ask about multiple-copy subscriptions.
science of better teaching. • New faculty Available in print, online, or both.
The Teaching Professor is an industry • Faculty development staff Choose the online version of The
leader in providing ideas, insight, and • Department chairs Teaching Professor and enjoy these
the best strategies supported by the • Administrators extras:
latest research, to educators who are • Free access to our full archive of
passionate about effective teaching in With each issue, The Teaching back issues!
the college classroom. Professor delivers thought-provoking • Convenient search capabilities!
and inspirational articles on a wealth • Easy login to your subscription
The Teaching Professor helps you: of critical topics. Brief and to the point, wherever you have a Web
• Overcome obstacles to effective it covers such subjects as: connection!
teaching • Student-centered learning • One extra issue!
• Stay abreast of the latest pedagogi- • Mentoring new and adjunct faculty
cal research • Overcoming student apathy Share this newsletter with your entire
• Hear what’s working for colleagues • Energizing and re-inspiring experi- staff with a Group Online Subscription.
“in the trenches” enced faculty Contact for
• Hone your skills and stay on top of • Integrating new technology more details.
teaching innovations • Responding to course evaluations
• Truly connect with your students and feedback Submission Guidelines:
• Start your subscription today • And more! Please review the author’s guidelines at
our website or contact the Editorial
Department at
or (608) 227-8120.

Don’t miss another issue subscribe today! Visit

And don’t forget to visit Maryellen Weimer’s Blog at
Magna Publications, Inc.
2718 Dryden Drive
Madison, Wisconsin 53704

10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know •