Student Voice


May 21, 2024


Opinions vary about qualifications of respect, behavior in classrooms

April 19, 2007

(Editor's note: This is the fourth installment in a six-part series. Next week look for a story about technology in the classroom. In a society where most students carry cell phones and iPods, and teachers use the Internet and PowerPoint for lectures. What impact does technology have on the learning process?)

Students at UW-River Falls have varying opinions about what qualifies as respectful and disrespectful classroom decorum.

All classrooms are different and for that reason the behavior of students toward their professors varies.

“Overall ... professors are respected by most students,” junior Katrina Styx said. “Every class has those students who don’t care and won’t take their education seriously, but I think that most students realize that they are here for an education and are willing to give their professors their due.”

Styx said she has been in classrooms where professors treat students fairly, but that is not always the case.

“ ... I’ve had professors who treated me like I was still in high school and some who didn’t even care enough to get to know me at all,” she said. “In a small school I think that one of the best things is the fact that most of the professors know you by name, and those who don’t even try I feel are slighting the students.”

Some students said they have noticed professors can be condescending at times and don’t give their students the respect they deserve.

“There are a few [professors] I’ve had who really seem to not care for our opinions or feel that since we are students we must now know anything in regards to their specialities or otherwise,” sophomore Justin Diercks said.

Diercks said one reason behind a professor’s disrespect of students may be their educational background.

“[Some] professors need to realize that a few letters in front of their name does not make them the sole authority on any given subject,” Diercks said. “Even the worst student might bring something to light worth considering, and comments shouldn’t be thrown out immediately because it doesn’t follow the profs line of thinking.”

Senior Brentt Fease said students get from their professors what they give.

“For the most part, students show professors as much respect as professors show their students,” he said.

Looking back in time, Fease said society has an impact on what is considered respectful and disrespectful and today’s society favors a more social atmosphere.

“The way students seem to behave toward professors would have probably seemed disrespectful to the old traditional professors of, say, 50 years ago or so,” he said. “The way things are today, though, where most classes have a relatively casual atmosphere, I think students actually show more respect to professors when they treat them like equals.”

When a student arrives late for class or leaves early, professors may view it as disrespectful, junior Maren Farvour said if there is a distraction, it is only because the professor causes it to be a noticeable disruption.

“I don’t think late arrivals and early departures are a distraction ... unless the teacher stops what they are doing to acknowledge that person,” she said. “That I do think is disruptive.”

Fease said if a student arrives late or departs early, that person often has a good reason to do so.

“ ... More traditional professors might interpret it as disrespectful, but I think those with a more modern mindset understand that students aren’t trying to insult anyone ... ,” he said.

With cell phones becoming a fixture in everyday life, students have been known to bring them into the classroom setting.

“Cell phones going off in class are definitely disrespectful to teachers,” sophomore Amber Goessl said. “It says, ‘I don’t care that I’m here enough to turn my phone on silent. My life comes first.’”

Goessl said cell phones can impede the learning process.

“As a student, it is really distracting to have someone’s phone go off in class,” Goessl said. “Everything stops ... the teacher stops teaching and everyone looks. It’s really annoying.”

Fease said most students whose cell phones do go off aren’t intentionally trying to be rude and most leave them on accidentally.

“It’s only really rude if you answer it and start chatting away in the middle of class,” he said.

Styx agrees that students are not purposely trying to disrespect their professors or fellow students, but at times disruptions can grow to be excessive.

“ ... Everyone will forget every once in a while to turn off his or her cell phone, or special cases would require some to leave early or arrive late,” she said. “But I would definitely consider consistent classroom disturbances to be disrespectful, and generally they do bother me.”