Behavioural grades

A professor’s decision to deduct 10 per cent for bad behaviour in class has the potential to be constructive, but treads a fine line.

A rule is currently in place in Professor Jill Jacobson’s PSYC 300 course outlining that any disruptive or threatening behavior, either in class or via email, won’t be tolerated towards a fellow student, TA or professor.

It isn’t clear what constitutes this type of behavior. The rule seems too vague to be fairly enforced.

This sort of ambiguity could be worrisome for students participating in the course.

Instead of participating in class and openly disagreeing with the professor, they may instead choose to keep their opinions to themselves for fear of losing grades.

This could be an infringement on academic freedom if the rule isn’t delineated more clearly to all those in the class.

The premise behind the rule isn’t necessarily a bad one. Students who are disrespectful in class should be reprimanded.

Everyone in class has paid for their education and deserves to learn in a respectful and constructive environment. You shouldn’t be solely evaluated on your academic performance — how you interact with the learning environment you’re in should also form part of your grade.

There are many ways in which these class rules could be established more succinctly for all. A discussion could be carried out at the beginning of each semester with all students present to clearly delineate what sorts of behaviours everyone would consider distracting and disrespectful.

Such rules can be effective in creating a more positive class environment for all students, but

the rules need to be clear and specific in order to avoid infringements on academic freedom.

— Journal Editorial Board

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