Tips for dealing with problem students and student problems

by Mariana De Maio
PhD student, University of Florida

There isn’t a teacher who hasn’t had to deal with student problems and problem students. Sooner or later you will have to deal with a student who has a problem or a student who is disrupting your teaching, so it’s better to be prepared. There are three common problems that higher education teachers face:

Students with academic problems

Some students may be aggressive or may challenge the materials presented in class. This is a good opportunity to delve further into the subject matter and to teach the student how to approach the subject in a critical fashion.

Some students seek the “truth” because they see the world divided into true and false statements. This is a good opportunity to guide these students into the complex pathways of the subject matter, arriving at various conjectures and competing hypotheses and presenting a set of ideas upon which the profession may agree.

Continue reading


The why and how of making accommodations for students with disabilities

by Kevin Hull
PhD student, University of Florida

While there are a multitude of different skills a new instructor must learn when entering the classroom, there may be none more important than dealing with students with disabilities.  If not addressed correctly, both the teacher and the institution could face some heavy penalties from the government.

Simply put, teachers need to know the correct way to accommodate students with disabilities because it is the law.  A law passed in 1973 states:

No “otherwise qualified” individuals, solely by reason of their disabilities can “be denied the benefits of, be excluded from participation in, or be subjected to discrimination” in (secondary institutions).

The main point of this law is that students with disabilities need to have the same opportunities to succeed as others in the classroom.

This should be achieved through inclusion.  Students with disabilities should not be singled out, and instead should be treated as equals to their classmates.  Instructors will be provided with a listing of the accommodations that must be followed for the individual student.  The instructor should meet with the student so they can come to a determination together about what will work best for the semester.

Here at the University of Florida, the Disability Resource Center is available to help answer many questions to ease concerns.  Their website is:

The DRC can help with testing accommodations, supplying note-takers, and creating a positive working experience between the student and the faculty.  Please check with them if you have any questions or concerns regarding a student with a disability in your classroom.

Kevin Hull is a student in Mass Communication Teaching.

The power of classroom delivery for promoting student learning

by Kortni Alston, MBA
PhD student, University of Florida
Graduate Teaching Assistant

The desks are narrowly placed though out the classroom, students are starting to arrive, and the teacher is waiting for the audio-visual equipment to warm up.  It sounds like a typical day in any classroom across the country, but there is one factor that differentiates some of the classrooms: the best teachers stand out simply with classroom performance or delivery.  How a teacher performs in the classroom can enable student engagement and ignite passion in a fairly listless subject matter.   Extraordinary teachers understand the value of bringing a lesson to life and using themselves as a conduit to share knowledge and experiences.

Ron Clark has proven that you don’t have to be a college professor to inspire educators.  Clark is the co-founder of the Ron Clark Academy (RCA), the non-profit middle school in Atlanta, Georgia that serves as a training ground for teachers. Clark and Kim Bearden, the co-founder and executive director of RCA are educating teachers from around the world more than 13,000 from all levels of education make the pilgrimage to their training facility to learn best practices from Clark, Bearden, and their team.  Their approach exemplifies passion in the classroom that values student engagement.  To see the school in action visit:

Continue reading

Being aware of your own learning style preferences as a teacher and your students’ learning style preferences can help you design more effective instruction

by Lauren Bayliss
PhD student, University of Florida

As teachers, we come to the classroom with a lot of preconceived notions regarding what good teaching is.  We have taken classes throughout our lives, and we know what helps us learn.  However, recognizing that what helps one person learn may not help every person learn is important when preparing lesson plans.  Teachers need to recognize both their own natural preferences in the classroom as well as the preferences that been cultivated by the dominant teaching culture.  Both influence teaching preferences, but may not prepare teachers to teach to the majority of students.

Learning styles provide one way to consider these issues.

Before you read on, find out your own learning style to give context:

Learning styles:

Learning styles can be described in many ways but commonly are broken down to three preferences: auditory, visual, and tactile (also called kinesthetic).

Continue reading