A course in classroom etiquette

Sara Macho

Professors name cell phone calls in class as No. 1 pet peeve

The other day, I heard the entire plot line of “Desperate Housewives” while I simultaneously tried to comprehend a professor’s lecture about Ptolemy’s theories of the universe.

What bothered me the most was not the disturbing behavior of the show’s cast, but rather, the disturbing behavior of these two Chatty Cathys behind me.

Unnecessary talking is just one example of improper classroom etiquette. Others are cell phone texting, failure to put the phone on a vibrating tone and reading the newspaper during lectures.

Poor classroom etiquette is disturbing to students but more so to university professor.

“I used to have a whistle I would blow to signal students to stop talking,” said Trudy Steuernagel, a political science professor.

Steuernagel also stops lecturing completely until the students speaking to one another stop talking.

A student’s poor classroom behavior may be influenced by the age of the professor, said Ramona McNeal, part-time political science professor.

“If a professor looks and acts younger, they may test you,” McNeal said.

Although unnecessary gabbing is a popular annoyance among professors, the top pet peeve seems to be the cell phone.

“I had a student take a call during class and start talking before they left the room,” said Deborah Smith, associate professor of philosophy.

Many professors blame classroom cell phone abuse on students who accidentally forget to turn the ringer off. Professors want to be notified before the start of class if a student is expecting an important call.

“If there’s a family crisis or a student who’s a parent, I understand,” Steuernagel said. “The best way to handle it is to say something to your instructor before class.”

Some professors aren’t as understanding as Steuernagel.

“I put my foot down when others are talking,” sociology professor Ivanka Sabolich said. “Most of the class is on my side. I am most concerned for other students.”

Classroom etiquette is hard to control in a large class, she said.For students out there who are guilty of improper classroom etiquette, Sabolich has some advice for you.

“I know it is tempting. You think you are invisible, but you need to be considerate of other people,” she said.

So how does a professor control classroom behavior?

“I asked a student to leave the room when their cell phone went off,” Smith said. “I had just gotten done giving a speech on keeping cell phones turned off.”

How do students control rude classroom behavior?

They usually don’t.

“If students behind me are talking, it does bother me, but I won’t say anything,” junior psychology major Melissa Bishop said. “It just causes even more disturbances.”

After talking to more students, not one told me they would tell rude students to keep it down.

“It really bothers me when students talk, but I would never say anything,” said Ashley Kaetta, sophomore early childhood education major.

If you find yourself getting annoyed at those rude students behind you in class, don’t let them negatively affect your chance to learn.

Now, put this newspaper down, and start paying attention to that lecture!

Contact features reporter Sara Macho at [email protected].