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To think that there must be something DP can do about rubbish students in his lectures?

(90 Posts)

DP is in his second year as a mature student. Technically it's his first year on the course as last year he did a foundation degree so it's most of his peer's first years too. This year he's really struggling to keep his attention on one of his lecturers because there are quite a few twats in his classes who spend the entire time chucking stuff at one another, chatting, ignoring the lecturer, chucking things at other people, etc. Essentially acting like children. The lecturer couldn't give a shit apparently and just continues on regardless, so DP is having to spend loads of extra time on this subject (Maths) which is already a subject that he was having to spend longer on anyway (though actually enjoyed it before, whereas now he's dreading going to lectures because of the other students).

DP says that he has complained to his course leader and head of department on numerous occasions because at the end of the day, whilst they are paying a significant amount to ruin their education at the moment, he is also paying and his education is suffering because of the minority and a lecturer who doesn't care.

Is there anything he can actually do about this? Or is he stuck with them until they either drop out or grow up? I dropped out of uni because of substandard lecturers so understand a little how frustrating it is, but then this is the first chance DP has had to change his life that has actually worked thanks to badly timed misfortune in the past and he's just getting more and more frustrated and I'm left with a defeated, paranoid-he's-going-to-fail grump when I actually manage to get him to put his work down!

larks35 Thu 17-Jan-13 21:54:15

TheOriginalSteamingNit - are you saying you are not allowed to tell misbehaving students to leave the lecture hall? What is NSS? Who gives a feck about bad feedback from a bunch of miscreants?

God, I thought I had it hard with the youngsters I deal with but I have to admit most of them do respond to warnings and do want to engage in the lesson, and they have the excuse of being kids! I could not cope with 18+ year olds misbehaving in that way. They would be out of my lecture and sod what feedback they give. (I realise as I type that I live in a deluded world where Universities aren't businesses at all but places of learning)

Adversecamber Thu 17-Jan-13 22:13:28

I know a lecturer and he gives chatting students a Paddington hard stare and will not speak until they stop. It means all the other students who want to learn also glare at them.

BertieBotts Thu 17-Jan-13 22:16:46

At my uni you don't get marked on attendance at lectures, so they shouldn't even have to be there if they're not interested in listening. Our lecturers did politely ask people to shut up or leave.

nevermindthecrocodiles Thu 17-Jan-13 22:17:10

I graduated in 2011 and this kind of behaviour was the bane of my life - why do people bloody bother going to uni in the first place if they don't want to learn?! I found the best tactic was to sit front row, then find out what time each individual lecturer could be found in their office, and go for weekly catch up sessions (if they were happy with that) with nice biscuits/chocolate/coffee as a thank you. Found if you were genuinely interested in the subject and the lecturer and wager to learn they'd go out of their way to help you.

nevermindthecrocodiles Thu 17-Jan-13 22:18:08

* eager* to learn, sorry!

iworemyfringelikerogermcguinns Thu 17-Jan-13 22:23:52

Before escalating it, could your DH speak to the lecturer immediately before the lecture and ask him to request appropriate behaviour? That way it's fresh in their mind and the lecturer is under more pressure to act on it right away, especially as the request has come from an adult learner face to face.Other lecturers in my University have stopped lectures and (I'm now a tutor) I've asked a disruptive student to leave a lesson and have received the full support of my line manager.

As a recent mature student, he should just loudly ask them himself to be quiet please (no aggro, just be firm and Dad-like!) and as someone else suggested, get other oldies onside first. I couldn't care less if they think I'm a wanker; learning is my priority, not being one of their mates. MAture students are meant to be boring swots!

Email the lecturer again, cc-ed to the course co-ordinator/ DH's advisor of studies / HoD / Head of School/ Faculty, advising that his feedback will be negative if this matter is not resolved speedily before he needs to make a formal complaint. He should ask them how they intend to deal with the issue. He could also state that he will challenge grades from the course (this will need to go to the external examiner and they will want to avoid this) as course content is not being delivered in an effective manner. The uni will probably have a student code of conduct (search its website?) stating who should deal with it and how.There may also be a class rep who should raise the issue or a University-wide Student Council with a mature student rep.

QueenStromba Thu 17-Jan-13 22:26:36

He could do what I did and get so annoyed by it that he loses it and shouts at them during the lecture. There was a big group of silly girls in my year at uni who mostly did the other course choice to me (the one perceived to be the easier choice). There was one block though where the opposing choice was really unpopular which lead to a load of these girls being on my course even though they really didn't give a crap about the subject material. After a couple of weeks of them chatting in lectures and nobody really doing anything about it they happened to sit right in front of me one day and I got so pissed off with them that I shouted at them - something along the lines of if they wanted to chat about hair and makeup then they should do it somewhere else rather than in the lecture hall where some people were actually interested and wanted to learn something. The lecturer just paused and continued on the lecture and the girls actually shut up for the rest of the course.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 17-Jan-13 22:36:05

NSS is the national subnet survey: it matters a lot, and consequently we are made to spend a lot of time cosseting them. And sending them out or otherwise 'treating them like children' as they commented last time, doesn't go down well!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 17-Jan-13 22:36:23

Student, not subnet!

Anna1976 Thu 17-Jan-13 22:45:36

Lecturers usually have far too much material to get through and have to grimly keep going in order to have covered it all, no matter what the students are like. This lecturer probably does give a shit, but just can't do anything about it. I'd have been shouting like Malcolm Tucker at some of the entitled little horrors in my lectures, and kicking them out, if i'd been allowed, but all that (or milder behaviour) results in is allegations of bullying and a bunch of smug little arses who take their successful bullying allegation to the next level of torment through the rest of the course. HR and professors will come down on lecturers like a ton of bricks, if lecturers try to enforce discipline anywhere other than the well-trodden bureaucratic pathway of plagiarism.

Getting your DP to film the disruption and take it to the dean sounds like it could be quite effective, but it might also mean his smartphone gets smashed and someone attempts to sue him for filming without consent.

He could probably request to see the lecturer in order to clarify areas of content that have been obscured by the others' behaviour. He will probably discover the lecturer hates these students as much as he does...

LessMissAbs Thu 17-Jan-13 22:49:23

Some lecturers are very academic and just don't expect to have to deal with behavioural issues at university level. 15 years ago you just didn't get this, before access to higher education was widened. Now students complain if you give them any excuse; some complain in advance and make small issues into larger ones just in case they fail their exams. They will take your words and twist them around to make into a complaint if you are not very careful about what you say to them. Unfortunately higher education has been dumbed down and this sort of thing is the result.

That said, your DP ought to work out that there are a number of people in the department he can speak to, after having tried to discuss the matter with his fellow students.

It may also be the subject - it doesn't happen in my subject, and perhaps it doesn't happen in Maths either and the lecturer just doesn't have to deal with this sort of behaviour usually.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 17-Jan-13 22:52:34

What anna says is spot on, unfortunately.

But we bloody love committed students who want to talk to us and who show some manners. He should go and see the lecturer during office hours if possible, because I bet he's as frustrated by the entitled little so and sos if not more, and probably powerless to do much about it.

Anna1976 Thu 17-Jan-13 22:54:51

nevermindthecrocodiles, you sound like the kind of student i'd have absolutely loved smile - I would always rather help a student individually on a weekly basis (up to some theoretical limit of students that was never reached) than deal with an angry self-righteous person complaining about being an unsatisfied customer because the course content is not being delivered in an effective manner.

Universities are explicitly not in loco parentis. These people are adults. Other than politely saying "if you aren't interested in listening, please leave" there is really not a lot a lecturer can do if adults choose to be disruptive.

ImperialBlether Thu 17-Jan-13 22:59:00

I think he needs to stand up and say, "Excuse me, but I can't take any more" to the lecturer, then turn to the students and say in a really loud (and yes, deep) voice, "Would you lot just shut up and behave like adults? I'm paying £9000 for this course and I am NOT going to put up with this disruption. Either grow up or get out."

Then sit back down and say, "Please, carry on" to the lecturer.

Anna1976 Thu 17-Jan-13 23:06:39

Imperial - if it worked, that would probably be great. But if it didn't work, it could cause a riot and make the rest of the course complete hell for all concerned. Depends whether the OP's DP is the sort of person who could face down a raging elephant, or the entitled little so and so's will find something to pick on and torment him for the rest of the year. It's times like this you need a gruff deep voice, biker tattoos on your gigantic biceps, and a Daniel Craig icy stare...

DrCoconut Thu 17-Jan-13 23:07:01

I am not allowed to kick anyone out of my classes. I'm not allowed to shout or threaten or anything else. The worst I can do is get the head of department in to have a word with problem students (without being too specific as that is targeting them) and they usually don't listen to him, not for long anyway. What they do, as has already been mentioned is give bad feedback about lecturers who cross them. The NSS is feared as any complaints or allegations made on there are in the public domain and damage control cannot be used at all. Basically our jobs depend, among other things, on a good NSS outcome, get bad feedback and you will be pushed out. Two observations over a few years - it often improves after the first assessment results as the twats students with character realise they need to sort themselves out, and peer pressure helps, the more classmates let them know they're not impressed the better. Many quite boisterous groups fall into a kind of self disciplining system after a while.

cumfy Thu 17-Jan-13 23:18:06

Surely it can't be more than 15% of the class who are like this.

I'd try and get everyone together to complain.

I'd contact the student rep to bring it up pronto.

Maths is by far the most important subject in engineering and he'll be needing all the theory for the coming years subjects.

pamish Thu 17-Jan-13 23:24:54

From teaching in FE, which includes some 18+ people - at the beginning of the year we would draw up a group contract re acceptable behaviours, based on their own lists of Do's + Don't's - contents nudged by teachers. eg We don't need silence in some lessons but in others we will. Then when they started pissing about expressing their individuality, we could throw it at them. Hopefully it's not too late in the year to do this - stating that their pissing about is making it impossible for others to learn, is the way to go. They know what Selfish means.

The drop-out rate at HE is high. It's been steady at an average of 20+% for years - a horrible waste of money and ambition and hope. At the places which take on 'non-traditional' students, dropout rate is as high as 47%. At Cambridge it's <0.5%. The Uni's have to take on anyone who can pay, and many kids are helped through their Level 3 (pre-uni) courses as the schools and colleges are paid by results too. At Level 4 it comes unstuck. The annoying kids in the class are more likely struggling to keep up and will disappear, but that's no comfort to those who will eventually complete. There will be a disciplinary code for students and they will have all signed it. Dig it out and discreetly ask the lecturer to use it, say you will back them up. S/he will be hating the little buggers too.

ImperialBlether Thu 17-Jan-13 23:32:33

You don't sign a disciplinary code for a course at university, do you?

The teacher is really the one to handle this, though.

My daughter said there was one boy who was always late to her class - he would prance in and make his mates laugh and the lesson would always be disrupted. One day he did it and the lecturer just shouted "Get out!" The boy scuttled out and wasn't late again.

It's positive attention they're wanting. They want everyone to think they are great. If your husband stands up and tells them they are immature, that would do it, I think. They don't want to think that of themselves - they are fresh away from home and feel they're adults. They need to be told they're not acting like it.

Anna, if he's quite a bit older, I don't think they'd tackle him. They certainly wouldn't riot. How could they?

VenusRising Thu 17-Jan-13 23:41:12

Engineers eh?
When I was in uni the engineers were second only to the agriculture students for disruptive behaviour.

The engineers DID set fire to a bin and throw it in to the lecture hall though, so in my personal opinion they were the worst, I didn't mind the sheep though.

What has all this got to do with your DH failing his exams?
That's not a logical train of thought.

Fwiw I never went to the lectures if they were this bad. I got a full curriculum description and studied whenever I felt like it.

I covered the entire maths course in two weeks before the exam, and I did well.

Make sure your DH attends every tutorial, and tells the lecturer he can't come to the lectures anymore, as they are too rowdy. He should get a full set of past examination papers, and have a go, if he finds parts difficult, have a chat with the lecturer.

Lectures are much overrated, especially with engineers.

andtheycalleditbunnylove Thu 17-Jan-13 23:45:25

there'll be a student council. talk to them.

pamish Thu 17-Jan-13 23:49:39

@ImpBlether, here's an example from Westminster: https://www.westminster.ac.uk/study/current-students/resources/student-code-of-conduct - Charter, Code of Conduct, Disciplinary Procedures. They will all have similar.

MatureUniStudent Thu 17-Jan-13 23:54:49

oh much sympathy. My lot play angry birds, text with the accompanying beeps and fb throughout. I use my dictaphone and record the lectures, sit at the front, touch type throughout and make myself unpopular (but the smartest in the lecture hall) by saying shush. Lecturers are assessed and are terrified of negative feed back. I'd negatively feed back how bad the lecturer is at controlling the students. But I'd also be going to the Chancellor with my furiousness at being disrupted from learning. There tends to be a complaint process that the Student Union will help you with. File a complaint and they have to do something. Tell the Chancellor - it's your education.

Fingers crossed also, the next lecturer can keep control.

Anna1976 Thu 17-Jan-13 23:55:45

sorry Imperial smile wasn't meaning a literal riot, just an escalation in bad behaviour to a point that is impossible to control and impossibe to teach over. I have seen this happen both as a student and a lecturer, where mature students took it upon themselves to impose order as the oldest person in the room by decades...what they discovered was that youth doesn't respect age automatically... and in a few cases the mature student became the focus of all future bad behaviour (which at least made it easier to sort out because it was specifically about treatment of one person rather than general disruptiveness - harder for the disruptive students to complain they were being targeted).

Anna1976 Thu 17-Jan-13 23:58:53

matureunistudent - while the Chancellor might listen politely (if you could actually get an audience with him/her), it's the VC who matters...

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