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

(90 Posts)
ConfusedPixie Thu 17-Jan-13 19:46:21

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!

FairPhyllis Sun 20-Jan-13 11:06:12

I teach in a university - please don't assume the lecturer doesn't give a shit. Depending on the university's policies, they may have very limited options for dealing with disruptive behaviour.

My personal feeling about student behaviour is that while I will do what I reasonably can to make lectures a productive environment, I am not there to be crowd control. It's not school, and I am not a teacher. Lecturers are damned whatever they do - they are not trained or supported in dealing with disruptive behaviour, yet they are expected to act like teachers by students and pander to a growing consumer attitude towards higher education.

Going to the academic/pastoral tutor, head of faculty, student council etc are options that are all open to him. However I think the quickest and most effective way (and possibly most personally satisfying way) of resolving the problem is for your DH to bollock these people in lecture. Don't underestimate how much older a 24 yr old seems to 18 yr olds.

I also agree with colliedog's advice not to get threatening. It will just put people's backs up and mean that this gets sorted out less efficiently.

And don't back down and rely on tutorials/online notes to fill in the gaps - the lectures are a vital resource of the course - your DH deserves to get the most out of everything that is on offer. Does the lecturer hold regular office hours? Because if they do I would be turning up there every week, or making an appointment, to go over the material covered in the lectures.

stripeyjimjams Sun 20-Jan-13 10:26:51

I work part time as a lecturer whilst doing a PhD. I would never hesitate to demand a student leave, after I'd given them a warning in front of the whole lecture theatre. It's simply not fair on the other students and I would feel that the students who are actually interested in the lecture would think I didn't care if I didn't do anything. Yes, it's tough for lecturers with the National Student Survey, but I reckon getting bad reviews from 3 dafties who feel "humiliated" isn't as bad as getting them from 100 good students who think you don't give a toss.

If your DH hasn't had any luck with talking to lecturer/head of department, is there a Students' Representative Council or, possibly even better, a Mature Students' Association at the uni who could take up his case? Good luck!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 18-Jan-13 22:40:56

Likes colliedogs post.... Bang on

TheCollieDog Fri 18-Jan-13 22:21:50

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.

Don't do this. It's seeking to blame the wrong person. As others have said, and as I know myself, lecturers hate disruptive behaviour, but we're increasingly powerless to do anything about it.

And actually, we shouldn't have to.

But threatening the lecturer on this way is not the way to resolve the matter. It amounts to a kind of bullying.

There should be a staff/student committee where the issue can be raised, and maybe a friendly approach by several students to the lecturer, asking if there's any way tey can help, would also be a good strategy.

TheCollieDog Fri 18-Jan-13 22:10:09

Oh, and he MUST ask the permission of the lecturer to record ANYTHING. And unless he has a certified disability for which recording the lecture is an agreed "reasonable accommodation" the lecturer is perfectly within her rights to refuse. Intellectual property.

TheCollieDog Fri 18-Jan-13 22:03:34

Speaking as a lecturer ... second, third, fourth the sitting in the front row.

Thing is, they're adults and it's not school. It's NOT a "lesson". As a lecturer, I'm not there to discipline everyone else's PFBs. (It's parents who enable such bad behaviour, a lot of the time, quite frankly). No-one has to go to university, and it might be a good thing if rather fewer entitled children did not attend.

The Department & lecturer may well care a lot, but may be driven by the bods from on high who are now using the NSS (National Student Satisfaction survey) as another stick to beat lecturers with. They are talking about connecting the unthoughtful responses of entitled PFBs to determine lecturers' pay.

And these little twats that your DH has to put up with may well say that they are "humiliated" if anyone calls them on their twattish disrespectful behaviour.

My technique is to pause mid-sentence, sometimes mid-word until the talkers notice, then ask them politely if they'd like to share their observations with us al;.

But it wastes so much time.

andtheycalleditbunnylove Fri 18-Jan-13 21:44:21

quoteunquote grin that was so funny i laughed till my eyes watered. he sounds wonderful!

quoteunquote Fri 18-Jan-13 21:21:09


I'm usually quite good at explaining the "way things are ' to the autistic brain, and pre thinking how DS might misinterpret a statement, so I usually have thought out the endless possibilities of how the information might be misused, but I didn't see that one coming.

ConfusedPixie Fri 18-Jan-13 21:19:19

I haven't had a chance to read again, we've had a really hectic day, DP knows about the thread (and I've just read out quote's story, to which he said "Yeah, but I'm not going to do that!" grin) and I'll set him on reading it in the morning smile

One thing I have noticed reoccurring is the mature student thing and (logical) assumptions that he is quite a bit older than the students, he's actually 24 but classed as a mature student grin so the Mum/Dad scenario won't work so well with us unfortunately grin Though it's given me a great mental image of going in with my best Super Nanny voice that I use on my charges to tell them all off wink

Thank you all for taking the time to reply, sorry I've not responded properly, I have had a tiring couple of days! I will read the thread properly tomorrow smile

GrendelsMum Fri 18-Jan-13 12:53:33

This is entirely inappropriate, and if the lecturer does not have support for dealing with behavioural issues, the University needs to pull themselves together and make sure that students can learn.

I suggest he takes this up the University hierarchy in all directions, both via the Students' Union and via the Department / Faculty. As people have said, he needs to go in to meetings expecting that a strategy will be put in place to deal with this within a very clear timeline. It's not a case of complaining about the lecturer, its a case of complaining about the University procedures.

Fakebook Fri 18-Jan-13 12:04:06

If the lecturer isn't doing anything then he needs to talk to his tutor. If even then nothing is done he should confront the "twats" and tell them to shut up. I did it a few times when I was in university. I'd just turn around and say "can you shut up, some of us are trying to listen". It embarrasses them and there will be others getting annoyed by them too, so you get a few smiles and nods from fellow students.

He has nothing to lose. Tell him to grow a pair and confront them.

Syrupent Fri 18-Jan-13 11:58:51

LOL at PGCE students being disruptive! They won't find it so funny when they are the teacher in front of a disruptive class!

megandraper Fri 18-Jan-13 11:44:16

The lecturers are pretty hamstrung - no power to do anything about it.

MadBusLady Fri 18-Jan-13 11:42:45

grin That is excellent quote.

quoteunquote Fri 18-Jan-13 11:40:40

I have a funny story,

DS1, went off to uni a couple of years ago, He is autistic and dyslexic, so finds other humans behaviour challenging as they are not logical , a couple of weeks in , he phoned me, to tell me a little shocked that people were not paying attention in lectures, he found it very distracting and upsetting, he really couldn't understand why anyone would do such a thing.

So we chatted about some of the things he might do to improve the situation, the sorts of things suggested on this thread, I also knew he was well liked by his fellow students, his personality is such, most people really like him immediately (despite him being really odd), so I suggested that he could have a chat with students but not in class, that were misbehaving and explain to them how it effects him, appeal to their better nature, worth a shot,

a couple of days later in one of the lectures which had the disruption problems, paper chucking and smart alec remarks started, so DS1 who was sat at the front remembering our conversation,

He stood up, turned round and announced, 'Anyone who is talking, throwing thing and spoiling the lesson can come outside and discuss it with me', total silence, so he said, "OK then, but if anyone wants to, let me know and we will go outside', sat down the tutor thanked him,nice quiet lesson,

The thing is DS1 is 6' 8'', and built like a brick shit house, he does a lot of sport, he had no idea that it sounded like he was inviting them all outside for a fight,

he was so pleased with response he repeated it in all his classes when people were being disruptive,

It was only when his friends who had realised his intention was just that have a chat with everyone, he is so fluffy and would never start a fight, told him, he realised it sound like he was going to beat them all up.

But no one disrupts in any of the lectures he attends anymore.

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Fri 18-Jan-13 11:13:20

I used to record lectures anyway when I was in Uni about a million years ago. When there was a lot of dense material it helped to go over the lecture again to deal with with the inevitable lapses in concentration where you missed bits. So that might help.

I would raise it with the HoD/ Faculty Head but in a way that doesn't blame the lecturer as you don't know what constraints have been put on them them by departmental policy (and it never pays to make an enemy of someone whose help you might need later wink).

You may well find that some of this silliness dies down in the second year when people start realising that things are getting serious and that the exam results can affect your final degree.

quirrelquarrel Fri 18-Jan-13 11:00:20

Gosh everyone in my lectures is quiet.
We sit quite close to the back and everyone's either asleep or paying attention (or in my case....reading and doodling and piping up with slightly irrelevant comments....). My biggest lecture is 150ish people and 3/4 years together (languages, so not a v. popular course), then my next biggest is about 20 people, and it's the same thing, maybe five people speak up properly and the rest keep quiet but don't make trouble. Thing is the lecturer does get us to call out answers to exercises she takes us through etc, it's not like we could be plonked in front of a video for an hour. Don't think anyone would dare to chuck stuff or be rude.

Re: us paying a fortune.....well, most of us aren't really. Yeah, some of us have paid upfront. My friend's been working since he could and is pretty rich, has three cars, buying his own house next year and renting it out, and he paid the full £13k for this year in Sept. But most of us haven't. Otoh that's not a good excuse for having us suck it up and suffer through bad lectures.

Can't think of a solution but am pretty surprised reading about the behaviour you describe, it's not usual, so maybe the lecturer just isn't used to dealing with it and there aren't the appropriate measures in place to deal with it anyway, and these days we're more and more prevented from using any initiative....

MrsGeologist Fri 18-Jan-13 10:13:09

Students on my old course would heckle the lecturers. Yes. Heckle.
It was awful, just a few students who were, to put it bluntly, thick as mince, and thought they were the the dogs bollocks would ruin it for the other 100+ students. Couldn't even escape in tutorials, because they were in my tutor group.

I study at the OU now. Much less distraction, in fact, I don't even know my fellow students. Bliss.

BanghamTheDirtyScone Fri 18-Jan-13 09:39:43

Oh and I had already done the polite, 'erm, please could you be a little quieter' thing for all that time and just got laughed at.

Polite neighbours don't scare students. Angry-as-fuck women really do smile

Maybe you could go along and do it for him - they will be scared of you more than him, it reminds them of their own mums I think.

BanghamTheDirtyScone Fri 18-Jan-13 09:37:36

I don't know if it would work but my instinct would be for him to actually shout at them himself.

Especially if they are younger?

Bit different but we lived in a house a few years ago, moved in when ds1 was a year old. Students would roll past at 2am every morning, pissed, singing and fighting from time to time.

I lay there trembling and getting very angry for months. One night a couple of eejits were pushing each other about in a shopping trolley.

I leaned out the window and yelled at them to 'Piss off home you little wankers' - much to my own surprise, and to theirs, as they got out the trolley and scarpered grin

I found immediately that my anger and stress disappeared. I had used my feelings to good effect, it had terrified them, I was back in control.

Sometimes a shock is what these people need. But I understand if it doesn't seem appropriate to your poor dp.

Best of luck whatever he does.

Sandie79 Fri 18-Jan-13 09:26:41

I second the idea of having a quiet word with the students himself. If he gets stroppy with them I'd say they'll just dig their heels in, but if he can act nice as pie, be earnest, and play up that as an older student he and his family have had to make a lot of sacrifices to be here and he feels like he's struggling a bit in this subject and its really hard to concentrate with noise: would they mind trying to keep it down in class as any distraction is really hard for him. Really milk it, while remaining reasonable and friendly, and try and make them feel guilty. As a group they may not care what people think, and if challenged they'll stick together, but appealing to people on an individual level like that is one of the few things that can make them change their behaviour.

I was never one of the super-loud ones, far too much of a nerd, but there were definitely lectures I did a bit of whispering in and if someone had said something like that I would have been mortified. If that doesn't work, then yes, there should presumably be a student union rep in the class so maybe use them as first port of call?

ICBINEG Fri 18-Jan-13 09:03:16

echt well yes obviously it would be good to do student engaging stuff in lectures...and the odd amusing fact may get remembered in spite of the style, but most education research labels the conventional lecture (where you copy your notes on the board and the students copy it into their notes) as being a fairly spectacular waste of time and effort...

Yfronts Fri 18-Jan-13 08:28:02

talk to the tutor and ask him to ask the chatty ones to be quiet

Yfronts Fri 18-Jan-13 08:27:30

can he turn round and say'can you be quiet or leave' to the students.

MadBusLady Fri 18-Jan-13 08:08:44

Agree with echt on the totally non-magical properties of bloody powerpoint slides, for anything except showing, say, a series of graphs. Why do we run the world like this now as if they are bottomless carpet bags of knowledge? Why not just write out some bullet points on half a page of A4 and have done with it?


Just to say I sympathise really. It's horrible. Most of my education was beset by these horrors and getting away from it at university was bliss (more tutorials than lectures in my subject). I never found any adequate solutions, but I'm afraid I do think he will look like a tit if he stands up and proclaims. sad These people just have no boundaries. They don't care about anyone's opinion except their mates'. That's why they're behaving like that in the first place.

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