Please note that these recommendations are only stepping off points. You should always check with your Department Chair or Dean to verify the current policy on your campus should you be confronted with one of these situations in your real life.
Scenario 1 - Sexual Harassment
A male student makes an off color joke, and several female students approach you at the end of the class and complain about it. The male student is related to your Department Chair.
- You have a responsibility to ensure that a hostile environment which appears to support sexual harassment does not take place in your classroom. Ideally, you should have calmly and politely informed the student that such jokes are not appropriate in the classroom. In most cases the student will promptly apologize, and the situation will be over. If you did not hear the comment, or failed to react, when students complain to you later, you can assure the students that you will address the situation. At the next class meeting, or sooner if you see the student in the hall, ask them respectfully to avoid such comments in the future. If they respond with hostility, it is time to see your Dean for advice.
- Be sure to check your college's policy on sexual harassment. [insert link to college]
Scenario 2 - Plagiarism
A student's assignment contains two or three paragraphs copied verbatim from a web site and there are no citations of where it came from or who wrote it. He is your no. 1 "A" student based on 5 previous assignments, 4 quizzes and 1 mid-term exam.
- Hopefully, you have a plagiarism policy in your syllabus and have reviewed your policy carefully with your students. If not, the situation calls for some consideration of the student's awareness of plagiarism. Ask the student to speak with you privately after class. Ask them what plagiarism is. Ask them how they insure that they don't inadvertently plagiarize materials. Ask them to explain the copied sections you have found. If they appear contrite, respectful and concerned about their error, you might chose a lenient approach such as asking them to rewrite the assignment. If not, options can include flunking that assignment or reporting the student to the Dean.
- Be sure to check your college's policy on plagiarism. [insert link to college]
Scenario 3 - Classroom violence
You are conducting an exam, and a student shouts some expletives to another student and starts a fight. He claims the other student was trying to copy from him.
- First, you should be aware of your college's emergency procedures [insert link to college] and have a familiarity with dealing with dangerous students (see http://www.4faculty.net/lsn/03read6.asp?Page=6).
- Assuring your student's safety and your own are your primary immediate responsibilities. The cheating issue is secondary. Call campus police immediately, once a fight breaks out.
- Follow the recommendations in Lesson 3 regarding what you might say if either party responds to your voice. Do NOT get between them unless you are skilled and trained to handle such situations.
- Be sure to write your own recollections about the situation as soon after class as possible. Keep these thoughts in a safe place should legal action ever result.
- Once the emergency situation has been addressed, you can address the cheating issue. Hopefully, you have established a cheating policy. Follow through on your established policy. You may wish to consult your department chair and Dean for additional advice given the gravity of the situation.
A student comes in late to your class every time and always has a funny look. One day you see him outside of the campus with students known to use drugs. Next day he greets you at the school cafeteria, and you smell that distinct aroma of marijuana.
- Contact the Dean of Students for advice.
A student of the opposite sex asks for your help constantly during office hours, and other students are aware. After many assignments and several quizzes, a student complains that you are not being fair in grading because his grades are much lower than the student who asks for your help constantly. He even accuses you of having a romantic relationship with the other student.
- Never become romantically involved with one of your students while they are enrolled in your course (More on this in Lesson 10). http://www.4faculty.net/lsn/10read.asp?page=1).
- Assuming you are completely innocent, you can respond as you would to any complaint about grades. Be very clear in your response. Pause if needed to compose your thoughts. Clarify that you are available during office hours to any student who requests help and that furnishing that assistance has no bearing on the issue. Do NOT be defensive. The more you project mature self assurance and calm, the more likely you are to defuse the situation. Tell the student you are happy to review his grades and further explain his scores. Take time to do this; remember that students often look for someone to blame for their poor performance. Do not let them put you in the position of defending your grading. Instead, frame your explanation of the score just as you would for a polite student who asks you to describe how they can improve their scores.
- If the student does not respond positively, go to your department chair or Dean as soon as possible and explain the situation and your attempt to handle it constructively. In all likelihood the student will not go to the Dean, but should they pursue the situation, the Dean will appreciate a heads up.
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