A Professional Code of Ethics and Progress Report: One University's Approach to Addressing Disruptive Behaviors in the Classroom; Professors, like Elementary School Teachers, Must Deal with Their Share of Childish Behavior or See Their Teaching Undermined
Murphy, Kelle L., JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance
Disruptive behaviors by students in the college classroom have become a growing concern among educators in all disciplines (Bru, Stephens, & Torsheim, 2002; Wayda & Lund, 2005; Wilson, 2005). These disruptive behaviors include arriving late to class or leaving early, talking with peers during lectures, verbally expressing dissatisfaction over assignments or grades, making sarcastic comments, leaving exams noisily (Boice, 1996; Mishra, 1992), sleeping during lectures (Kilmer, 1998), exhibiting academic dishonesty (LaBeff, Clark, Haines, & Diekhoff, 1990), reading the newspaper in class (Heinemann, 1996; Herr, 1989), asking questions that are irrelevant, exhibiting bad manners (Heinemann, 1996), and text-messaging friends with cell phones. These behaviors must be addressed and modified if effective learning is to take place and if physical education teacher education (PETE) candidates are to become effective educators.
Accountability and responsibility have become key topics in the educational arena (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 2004). Consequently, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) has developed and implemented standards as a form of accountability, to ensure that teacher candidates acquire and demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to be effective PreK-12 educators (NCATE, 2002). The first NCATE standard addresses candidates' knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Physical education teacher education students are expected to behave in a professional and ethical manner when teaching students, or interacting and communicating with colleagues and the community. Unfortunately, PETE students do not always demonstrate those desirable behaviors in the college classroom.
The purpose of this article is to examine disruptive behaviors in the college classroom; offer strategies that will help diminish the occurrence of disruptive behaviors; explore the role of a conceptual framework and professional code of ethics; and promote professional behaviors by PETE students in educator licensure programs through the use of professional progress reports.
The Origins of Disruptive Behaviors
Examining the origins of disruptive behaviors is the critical first step to developing an effective plan of action. Educators in colleges and universities must understand these behaviors and the types of students who will be coming to their classrooms. They must also find ways to partner with their colleagues in elementary and secondary schools to promote smooth transitions from one level to the next. Elementary school educators often complain that their students come ill-prepared to learn and that much of their time is spent addressing social issues rather than educational issues. These social issues range from the extreme of abuse, neglect, and homelessness, to working parents who are too tired or unavailable to prepare nutritious meals, assist with homework, or resolve sibling conflicts. At the secondary school level, this leads to poor performance in school, loss of self-esteem, acting out, and skipping classes. At the college level, these issues lead to a lack of preparation for college academics, inadequate reading and writing skills, mental health problems, lack of direction, lack of awareness of how to behave in the classroom (Kilmer, 1998), and not feeling challenged. Behaviors also may be a function of maturity, lack of attention, or lack of socialization (Mishra, 1992).
Further, students may not take ownership of these behaviors or fully understand their seriousness. For example, when addressing the issue of academic dishonesty, students often rationalize their behavior. They admit that cheating is wrong for everyone else, but justify their own cheating in various ways (LaBeff et al., 1990). Students sometimes deny their responsibility when it comes to cheating, blame the incident on the perceived unfairness of the teacher, or rationalize it as acceptable in order to assist a peer (LaBeff et al. …