Classroom Decorum

Norms of behavior vary in different circumstances, at difference times, and in different contexts. How you act around your family may be different from how you act around your friends. How you act around your family and friends may be different from how others act around their families and friends. For example, your parents may be very easy going, informal, and relaxed whereas someone else's parents might be very strict, serious, and formal. You may have been raised to call your father "sir," while others have not been. In your home, perhaps you could eat in the living room and put your feet on the coffee table, while others had strict rules about where to eat and how to behave. You may have found that it is ok to be 20 minutes late to meet a friend to hang out, but this doesn't "fly" for showing up to work. You may call your friends by a nickname ("dawg," "honey"), but you don't address the bankteller, your boss, a grocery clerk, or a doctor this way.

It is an important social skill to learn what behaviors are expected in different contexts or situations and to act appropriately. Failure to act appropriately could be attributed to ingornace of the expected norms, or it could be straightout incivility.

Incivil behavior is any behavior that purposefully violates the norms of social interaction in order to disrupt, undermine, or upset the standard social environment.

Incivility in the classroom is any behavior that disrupts the learning enviroment, creates stress or hostility, or interferes with instructional activities.

Consider the following examples of classroom incivility:


1) arriving late to class;
2) noisily packing up early;
3) leaving early;
4) talking in class;
5) coming to class unprepared;
6) repeating questions;
7) eating in class;
8) acting bored or apathetic;
9) groaning disapprovingly;
10) making sarcastic remarks or gestures;
11) sleeping in class;
12) inattention;
13) not answering a direct question;
14 ) using a computer in class for non-class purposes;
15) letting cell phones and pagers go off;
16) cutting class habitually;
17) dominating discussion;
18) demanding make-up exams, extensions, grade changes, or other special favors;
19) taunting or belittling other students;
20) challenging the instructor's knowledge or credibility;
21) making harassing, hostile, or vulgar comments to the instructor in or out of class;
22) sending the instructor inappropriate emails; and
23) making threats of physical harm to the instructor.
(From Minn. State Colleges and Universities webpage)


In an effort to protect the learning environment from disruption (whether it is intended or not), I ask that students taking my classes accept the following standards of behavior:


1. Arrive to class on time, prepared, and ready to participate if call upon. If you cannot come on time, do not come at all. If you cannot come to class prepared, do not come at all. Know that attendance and participation are required.
2. Do not eat or drink in class.
3. Place all personal belongings except for your notebook and a writing utensil under the table.
4. Take notes.
5. Raise your hand if you have a question that pertains to the topic I am discussing or if you are willing to answer a question I ask of the class.
6. Do not ask rude, irrelevant, or off-topic questions.
7. Address me as “Doctor Smith,” “Professor Smith,” or simply as “Professor.” You do not need to call me "ma'am."
8. Do not pack up your belongings until class has officially ended or I announce that class is over.
9. Do not leave the class until I excuse you. If you suffer from a medical condition that makes it difficult for you to stay in your seat for the duration of the allotted class time, please bring a note from a licensed physician.
10. Do not talk to the people in the class unless you are instructed to do so.
11. If you are given a task to complete in class, do so to the best of your ability.
12. Your time in class should be spent listening diligently, taking notes, and learning the materials following the instructions I give you.
13. While you should participate in class, you should not dominate class discussion. Be cognisant of others' need/desire to participate as well.

14. Understand that asking questions or making comments that do not directly relate to the topic at hand, that purposely misdirect the direction of discussion, or that reflect a failure to have completed past assignments constitutes disruptive behavior and is grounds for your permanent removal from the course.

If you feel that you cannot behave in a respectful and studious manner, feel free to drop my course.

For more information about classroom incivility, check out the following web resources: