Classroom etiquette and professionalism

Many Core Humanities classes are taught in a large lecture format, where it is easy to feel as though you are an anonymous, atomized individual with no connection to the professor or to other students taking the course. This encourages some students to think they can come and go as they please and do whatever they want in class, including conversing with the people sitting next to them, texting their friends, reading and surfing the internet. Although these actions might seem harmless, they can be very distracting to other students.

Part of the purpose of a college education is to help you to become informed, thoughtful and mature adults who understand basic standards of professional behavior. No employer wants to hire someone who is always late, cannot complete tasks on time, puts little effort into their work, is rude to clients or colleagues, or reacts angrily to suggestions for improvement. Just like in a professional workplace, you should avoid behaving in ways that interfere with getting the job done.

As a student at the University, you are part of an academic community and you have responsibilities to that community. This means refraining from doing things that negatively affect your own or other people's ability to learn. All students should adhere to the following guidelines out of respect for their classmates and instructors:

  • Turn off cell phones and use the bathroom or get a drink of water before class so that you do not have to leave and come back in while class is in session.
  • Arrive on time and don't pack up your books and notes until the instructor officially ends the class.
  • When others are speaking, either listen quietly or take notes. Doing anything else is disrespectful to the instructor and to other students and may disrupt the learning process.

There may be some times when, despite your best efforts, you are unable to abide by these rules-for example, if you experience unexpected delays in getting to class, have health problems, or if you are dealing with a personal emergency and need to leave early or take a phone call. In that case, let your instructor know before class, if possible and try to minimize distractions for other students by entering or leaving the classroom quietly and sitting close to the door.

If you are in a class with a student who frequently engages in distracting behavior, ask that person to stop. Most people don't realize when they are disturbing other students and just need to be told how annoying their actions are. Hearing it from a fellow student can sometimes be more effective than hearing it from an instructor.