I stumbled across an article from the Chicago Tribune that deals with classroom etiquette.  According to the article, “Rude Behavior in College Classrooms Is Often a Matter of Course,” professor’s find that students are less courteous and respectful now than in the past. It includes some quotes from professor’s who suggest that times have changed. For example, they say students are more likely to interact with professors in informal ways, to manifest unruly classroom behavior, to wear inappropriate clothing, etc. The article also raises the question of the degree to which technology contributes to this supposed shift. For example, the article quotes Professor P.M. Forni as saying:

The prestige of the teacher and the professors as providers of knowledge and wisdom has decreased as the importance of the information technology has increased.

Then the article adds an interesting tidbit:

Although the decline in classroom manners has not been documented in evidence-backed research, Forni said, the “anecdotal evidence is so massive it becomes rather reliable.”

While I don’t know for sure if no research exists on the topic, I do think it makes for an interesting study as an individual or class project, perhaps including surveys or interviews with professors.

I also think it would be interesting to have a classroom discussion to see what students think are appropriate classroom norms. What do students think should be appropriate norms regarding classroom behavior and interacting with professors? How many students think it’s OK to text during class? To eat during class? To refer to professors informally by first name (e.g. “Hey, Lee”)? How do students enforce norms among themselves? How might norms vary based on factors such as classroom size, discipline, school, gender,  etc.?  What role do students think professors should play in enforcing norms?

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