Discussion 2: Collaborative Activity 2: Challenging Students

Discussion 2: Collaborative Activity 2: Challenging Students

In the previous Collaborative Activity, you focused on “needy”students and how best to address their specific needs.

In this Collaborative Activity, you will focus on “challenging” students who test you as an instructor in different ways.

Connect with the same partners as last week via e-mail, chat, Skype, telephone, or another mutually agreed upon medium (Synchronous communication is preferred, but not required, for this activity.)

Together with your partners, brainstorm strategies to address each of the three scenarios. Consider which of the scenarios you would like to address in your post.

Scenario 1: In more than one post to the discussion board, Nancy makes clear that she feels the current discussion is not stimulating enough for her.

She begins posting alternative topics and follow up questions, steering interaction away from the initial topic raised by the instructor.

Nancy takes it upon herself to respond to each and every student’s post in that thread. A few students post to the Help Forum asking if they will be graded on their responses to Nancy’s questions or if they should focus on the instructor’s initial discussion prompt.


Scenario 2: In the Help Forum, Edgar asks why the instructor has not responded to a question he posted just two hours ago.

Several students begin discussing what they feel are the appropriate windows of time for e-mail and discussion board responses from the instructor.

The other students disagree with Edgar’s expectations, stating that he is expecting too much and must learn to be more patient. Edgar becomes defensive and the exchange escalates.

Finally, Edgar declares that he is going to file a complaint with the administration about the “lack of timeliness of the responses from the instructor.”


Scenario 3: Charlie’s discussion post this week is just bits and pieces of other students’ posts cobbled together into something seemingly new.

When the other students see this, they immediately call Charlie out for plagiarizing. One student even posts in the Help Forum that she is considering submitting a policy violation with the college for breach of academic integrity.

Charlie becomes defensive and refuses to take responsibility for his actions.


Managing Challenging Learners

While human interactions can be complicated at times, it is easy to predict some behavior.

In classes, there are those learners that are, at times disruptive, rude to fellow students and at times to the teacher. Such action can interfere with the learning process or even be adopted by other students if it goes unchecked (Wang, 2017).

Some learners may act rude to challenge the instructor, show off their ego, or to test their mental muscle as it is with the three simulation scenarios of Charlie, Nancy, and Edgar.

Such behavior is expected if the instructor appears less in command, or the student body feels empowered and aggressive mostly with already work- experienced learners, and lastly outright bullying to given instructors such as the new, foreign, female or by any other presumed character.

In this paper, I seek to review how to overcome challenges from students with constructive consulting from three of my colleagues who we link via skype. The focus will be on Edgar’s case.

One of the roles of the instructor is to be a role model to avoid students emulating an aggressive and argumentative approach to air their concerns.

One colleague suggested that it is best to avoid defensive responses and more so show courtesy to listen to the learner and show interest without pointing out the learner’s weaknesses recklessly as it can discourage the student (Wang, 2017).

It is best to appreciate the learner’s concern by raising an important issue that can be discussed by the group and show them their idea is worthy, this will set a platform with tolerance, and that can be the first step to coming up with a common solution while promoting communism.

My second colleague did also support the aspect of coming out defensively as an instructor but gave a tactful approach as some students can be out rightly rude, and such behavior shouldn’t be let to slide.

The rationality is that it may erode the instructor’s authority in class if the bully seems to have the upper hand.

How the matter will be handled depends on the instructor, nature of the problem, and the appropriateness of the approach (Hopman et al., 2018).

If the problem seems to be prevalent among a few students one may address the class as a whole, if it is individual it is best to call the student aside and discuss the matter amicably, and if it persists one might be pushed to forcefully address the issue through directed but thoughtful comments to the problematic student.

My third colleague did also add that it is appropriate to set the expectations, objectives, and scope of the program, this acts as a fair warning as learners understand what is required and what not (Hopman et al., 2018) is.

It is best to remain nonjudgmental and calm to avoid altercations or power struggle with the challenging student considering the instructor already has authority, and it can be regarded as an abuse of power.

The instructor needs to use less of authority and more of knowledge, logic, and evidence. This will challenge the learner’s mindset and try to use fair judgment.

If that becomes, impossible one can seek help from colleagues or sort the issue at a higher office or authority.

The other idea is to understand the student and assess their character and personality as the agitation and aggressiveness may be a depiction of an inner struggle.

Some students need to be approached carefully and considerately handle their grievances by trying to understand and addressing the source of their frustrations (Hopman et al., 2018).

From the different solutions provided, it is evident there are unlimited approaches to addressing challenges, and it depends on the instructor, the student, and the type of problem.



Hopman, J. A., Tick, N. T., van der Ende, J., Wubbels, T., Verhulst, F. C., Maras, A., … & van Lier, P. A. (2018). Special education teachers’ relationships with students and self-efficacy moderate associations between classroom-level disruptive behaviors and emotional exhaustion. Teaching and Teacher Education75, 21-30.

Wang, F. H. (2017). An exploration of online behavior engagement and achievement in flipped classroom supported by learning management system. Computers & Education114, 79-91.

Also check: Microaggressions and Cultural Sensitivity