Prof deducts grades for bad behaviour

Students warned they’ll lose 10 per cent of final mark for being disruptive in class

The AMS is raising questions over a civility clause for PSYC 300 which deducts marks for bad behavior.

The clause stipulates a 10 per cent deduction from a student’s overall mark for distracting, discriminatory, threatening or disruptive behavior in person or via email towards a professor, TA or fellow student.

The penalty will be enforced on the first violation, according to the course’s syllabus, and students who behave inappropriately in person will be removed from the class.

This is the first year the full-year course has included a civility clause in its syllabus.

The course’s professor, Jill Jacobson, said she created the clause to help facilitate critical inquiry in a respectful manner.

“When I want to start the class, it starts,” she said.

“I don’t have to fight or ask them more than once and generally complaints have never been more professionally addressed.”

Jacobson, who has been teaching at Queen’s since 2001, said she derived the idea from a number of different universities in North America who impose similar clauses in their classrooms.

She received approval from the department’s undergraduate chair prior to including the clause in the syllabus.

“Inappropriate language, threatening, harassing behavior and disruption, can really make a situation quite uncomfortable for the other students and make it difficult for the other students to learn,” she said.

Despite this, no students have violated the clause since it was presented to her class in September, she said.

AMS Academic Affairs Commissioner Isabelle Duchaine said she thinks the clause violates a student’s freedom in the classroom.

“Tying your ability to speak in class to an academic grade can restrict what constitutes as academic freedom and integrity,” Duchaine, ArtSci ’13 said.

“It also actively discourages critical inquiry, which is the foundation for a quality undergraduate education.”

Punishing a student for inappropriate behavior isn’t up to the professor, she said, but the department and faculty.

She plans on meeting with members of the Faculty of Arts and Science in an effort to try and get them to rethink the necessity for the clause.

Heather Lawton, ArtSci ’14, is in PSYC 300 and thinks students should be spoken to individually about their violation in order for the clause to be effective.

“She put this policy in place because she was trying to prevent people from lashing out against the TAs or the prof or other students,” she said.

“As long as she talks to people about it and she identifies the problem and lets the person know, I believe that’s how the policy [should] work.

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