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Discovering Problem

Patricia Mills
EDN 340-001
Dr. Fox

Top 10 Problem Students

1. Angry, Aggressive, Challenging Students
2. Attention Seekers & Students who
Dominate Discussions
3. Inattentive Students
4. Unprepared Students
5. The Con Man (or Woman)
6. Discouraged Students
7. Struggling Students
8. Students with Excuses
9. Students Who Want the Truth & Believe
that Everything is Relative
10.Students with Emotional Reactions to
Sensitive Topics

Angry, Aggressive, Challenging


May include one or more students

Challenge the authority
Convey verbal & nonverbal hostility to others

Preventing angry students:

Make your expectations clear
Make yourself available
Establish good communication between student and parent

State your position

Present the issue to the class asking How do the rest of
you feel?
Admit that you may have been wrong and reconsider

Attention Seekers & Students

who Dominate Discussions
Students talk whether or not they
have anything to say
Make jokes
Show of
Compliment teacher/students
Constantly talk in and outside of class
Attention seekers continually try to
be noticed.

How do you handle attention

seekers and students who
dominate discussions?

Suggest to students that you want their ideas

Call on students who have hands raised that have not

recently talked

Suggest to class that some students seem to

participate more than others and ask for
Assign two or three students as process
observers for a day
Process observers will report at the end of the class on
their observations of how the discussion went,
problems they noticed, and suggestions they have

Videotape or audiotape the class discussion

As a last resort, speak to the student outside of
class about his or her excessive involvement

Inattentive Students
Students who continually talk with
other students
First ask these questions..
Is the lecture material too easy?
Is the lecture material too difficult?
Does the topic of discussion arouse

If the answer to these questions is no

try these steps..

Break the class into assigned *buzz groups

During the collaboration in the buzz groups, pay
close attention to the disruptive students to see
if they are working on the task

Write in journals
Call on disruptive students to report what he or
she has written or call on someone sitting near
the disruptive student to get their attention

Rotate seating chart every week

Some research indicates that students who sit in
the front row get better grades, therefore, rotate
seating chart and allow disruptive students to sit
in the front

Conference with student

Schedule a conference with the student outside
of class time to ask about their feelings and to
express your concern for them

*A buzz group is a small discussion group formed for a specific task

such as solving problems and generating ideas

Unprepared Students
Students who continually come to class
Communicate from the beginning of the
school year that you expect students to
read all assignments
Give quizzes on reading assignments

Do not use a phrase such as:

You might want to read the next chapter
before the next class.

Give students questions to think about

before they read

The Con Man (or Woman)

Students who excessively flatter the teacher
To get better grades
To extend deadlines for assignments

May cause a mistrust to all students

Start of assuming that all students are
Dont make exceptions for a student unless
you are willing to change them for everyone
(unless otherwise convinced that the
exception is special)

Discouraged Students
Students who are discouraged seem depressed
and ready to give up
Signs of a discouraged student:

Frequently arrives to class late

Excessive absences
Assignments lack creativity
Assignments lack enthusiasm
Energy decreases

How do you help a discouraged student?

Allow students from previous year come to the
class and describe their frustrations and self-doubt
and explain how they survived and overcame the

Struggling Students
Students who struggle with the material
(can be temporary but this is not always
the case)
To assess the struggle, ask questions like:

Have you missed any classes?

Do you study the assignment before class?
How do you study?
What kind of notes do you take?
Do you discuss the topic with classmates?

Continue to check the students

performance throughout the school-year

Students with Excuses

Students who make fraudulent excuses usually to
extend more time for an assignment
Students with excuses are often creative which
helps them make believable excuses
Tips to Avoid Students with Excuses:
Establish a series of penalties for late
Ofer bonus points for papers turned in early
Also, be flexible on deadlines and aware that
unforeseen events can occur that may prevent
students from turning in assignments on time
Always require evidence supporting the extension

Frequent Excuses Include..

My dog ate my homework!
My sister tore up my paper!
The cat died!
Someone stole my homework!
My computer broke!
I forgot!
I had soccer practice!
I had

Students Who Want the Truth &

Believe that Everything is

Students who question facts and truths

about information being taught

That was an interesting lecture, but which

theory is right?

Most students believe that the teachers

task is to tell students facts and larger
truths and the student is to listen to the
truth, learn it, and be able to retell the
information later in the school year
Students responses to teachers lecture is
based on the students stage of cognitive

Students Who Want the Truth


The lower stage is characterized by a dualistic view of knowledge

Things are either right or wrong
Students in the middle stage have learned that authorities difer
No settled truth; everyone has a right to his or her own opinion
Students in the next stage of cognitive development recognize that some
opinions and generalizations are better supported than others
Student is to learn the criteria needed for evaluating the validity of
assertions in other subjects
Students in the final stage show commitment to values, beliefs, and goals
Teachers need to help students understand how knowledge is arrived at in
their own disciplines, what serves as evidence, and how to read critically
and evaluate knowledge
Students should write journals and papers that are responded by the
teacher and classmates, which serves as good debate and discussion

Students with Emotional

Reactions to Sensitive Topics
Students who react emotionally to relevant
topics discussed in class that are sensitive
When teaching sensitive topics you should:
First, explain why the topic is relevant
Remind students to listen to others opinions with
respect and understanding
Facilitate a group discussion about the topic
Allow ample time for class discussion on sensitive
topics because students may be reluctant at first to
share their feelings

Allow students to write in journals about a

position of the topic rather than their own

Always remember to..

1. Dont duck controversy
2. Listen, and get students to listen to one
3. Keep your cool. Responding immediately is
not required
4. Talk to colleagues and ask what they would
5. Always remember that your problem students
are human beings who have problems and
need your sympathy and help---no matter
how much you want to strangle them!

Works Cited
McKeachie, Wilbert James,
and Barbara K. Hofer.
McKeachie's Teaching
Tips Strategies, Research,
and Theory for College
and University Teachers.
11th ed. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin
Company, 2001. 148-60.