June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.1282.1 - 14.1282.8
Troubled, Emotionally-Challenged, and Difficult Students: Perspectives, Interventions, and Resources in Engineering Technology
Recent tragic, news-worthy events of troubled, emotionally-challenged, and difficult students on campus have reinforced to faculty the potential risks, resources, and responsibilities they face in the teaching and learning process. Most faculty engage in the teaching-learning process because they are passionate about their subject matter. Indeed, it is often a shock for new professors to realize that not every student shares their enthusiasm for the discipline. Even more shocking for these faculty, however, are the nature and types of student issues and behaviors they must mitigate in the classroom.
Few faculty are afforded the type of training and development to ensure an effective response to troubled, emotionally-challenged, and difficult students. Some faculty choose to confront the behavior directly, with mixed results. Others pass along the information to department chairs, deans, and other administrators, who may or may not document and make appropriate and timely interventions. Finally, some faculty members simply choose to ignore signs of trouble, in the hopes of avoiding escalation or by developing coping mechanisms designed to serve them well through the end of the semester. Faculty often report a desire to know how to handle situations early, and to be aware of the warning signs, institutional resources, intervention strategies, and appropriate boundaries to handle challenging student circumstances. Thus, the time has never been better to equip faculty with information designed to enhance their effectiveness around these matters.
This paper defines these student characteristics, identifies appropriate warning signs, discusses faculty interventions and obligations, explains legal and institutional options, and recognizes the often competing-and-coexisting tensions faculty members face in wanting to be a helpful educator while necessarily establishing and safeguarding boundaries with students. The following perspectives from one Engineering Technology’s schools’ experiences on dealing with difficult students will be shared: advisor and administrative assistant viewpoint; faculty member viewpoint; and department chair/administrator viewpoint. Successful strategies, best practices, lessons learned, and pitfalls-to-avoid in shaping and managing the teaching and learning environment in this context will be shared.
Who Are Troubled, Emotionally-Challenged, and Difficult Students and Why Are They Important?
To be fair, a large majority of students at every institution and in all disciplines, including engineering and technology programs, persist to degree completion without incident. They are the students who perform within the prescribed policies and expectations, get along with their peers and professors, and rarely cause trouble. This “silent majority” can sometimes be forgotten when faculty and administrators must deal with issues from students who, while a small minority, consume a tremendous amount of institutional time, energy, and effort. These are often referred to as troubled, emotionally-challenged, and difficult students.
Hundley, S., & Worley, W., & Talbert-Hatch, T., & Bannatyne, M., & Walter, S., & Wager, E. (2009, June), Troubled, Emotionally Challenged, And Difficult Students Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/4607
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