How to marking essays? #writing #education @TomorrowsProf

Very useful tips from a veteran teacher (Brian Martin).

Marking (Grading) Essays: Making it Easier and More Fun

It’s worthwhile discovering methods to make marking more enjoyable. The same methods can be used to tackle other dreaded tasks.

Sitting on your desk is a pile of essays that need to be marked. There might be just 10 or 20, or maybe 50, 100 or more. For most teachers, this is not an eagerly awaited task. Is there some way to make marking easier and more enjoyable?

I’ve been marking undergraduate essays for over 25 years and have tried out various methods to make the task less onerous. Gradually I’ve discovered ways that work well for me. You may or may not want to adapt these for your own circumstances. In any case, I encourage you to undertake your own search for better methods. If you’re looking ahead at 25 years of marking, surely it’s worthwhile to explore better ways to go about it.


Because marking is generally seen as unpleasant, it is very common to postpone starting. Doing other things, such as reading a book, checking emails, searching the web or even doing housework, suddenly seems more appealing. After all, it really won’t matter much if you start tomorrow. Days and sometimes weeks go by until it becomes urgent to do the marking. Then it becomes a matter of long exhausting hours of mental labour. It seems like a marathon, and only goes to prove that it really was something to be avoided.

The habits of procrastination and bingeing are deep-seated. Most teachers learned them when they were students, cramming for exams or doing all-nighters to write essays.

The solution to the syndrome of procrastination and binge marking is simple: tackle just a few essays each day. If I have 80 essays and need to finish marking them in two weeks, I set myself a target of six every day. Six essays seem much less daunting than 80.

The hard part is getting started. It’s best to begin marking the very first day or, if some essays come in early, before the due date.

Robert Boice researched the habits of highly productive new academics, and found the secret of success was working in moderation. Academics who did a little every day – research, writing, class preparation – were vastly more productive than those who waited for big blocks of time to complete tasks in lengthy sessions. Furthermore, the ones who worked in moderation were less stressed.

I can’t tell you how to change habits of procrastination and bingeing; you can learn a lot from various self-help books. All I can say is that it’s one of the most important things you can do to make marking easier.

Staying fresh

My goal is to approach each essay feeling fresh and positive. Doing only a moderate number of essays per day helps. So does taking breaks. After marking one or two essays, I’ll take a break: a stretch, a snack, some research work, some reading, perhaps the dishes.

If I’m doing only an hour’s worth of marking per day, a break may not be needed. For anything longer, breaks are vital.

Marking requires mental effort, and the mind behaves like a muscle. Do too much and it gets tired and cries out in pain. Do the right amount and it gets stronger day by day. This is another reason for pacing: marking gradually becomes easier. So often it’s better to start with a few essays on the first day and increase the daily target later.

Going faster

How long does it take to mark an essay? A few teachers I’ve met may spend an hour or more, reading and rereading the essay, writing lengthy comments and agonising over the mark. My goal, though, is to go faster while maintaining quality.

Many people read at 200 to 300 words per minute. Yet it is possible to read several times this fast while maintaining comprehension. To do this requires practice, going a little bit faster until it seems natural, and then pushing to go faster still.

Going faster is similar to progressive training of the body, with greater speed or strength developing over time. It’s also similar to typists who train so they can achieve amazing speeds with great accuracy.

My aim is to be fresh and to maintain concentration so I need to read an essay only once and retain a short-term memory of it, perhaps jotting down a few notes along the way. I then type all my comments. If I feel a need to read the essay again, it usually means I haven’t maintained concentration. Time for a break.

Marking less

Even the most efficient marker can be daunted by the prospect of hundreds of essays. If you have some control over assessments, then there are ways to cut back on the marking load.

One option is to simply reduce the number of assignments. Students are often overloaded with work, and could do a better job on fewer assignments, putting more effort into each one.

Another option is to mark some student performance during class. I used to have students do short oral presentations. With a simple template, I would scribble feedback on a sheet of paper and give this to the students at the end of the class. One advantage for students was getting feedback promptly, which seldom happens with essays.

Yet another option is to have frequent small assignments, but only mark some of them. For example, in one class students had to write eight mini-essays, one per week. However, only two these were marked, in weeks chosen randomly after weeks four and eight. Some students complained that they wanted all their submissions marked; I responded by saying that marking just two of them was equivalent to having an exam in which only two of eight possible questions were asked.

Another source of essay marking overload is writing too many comments. I discovered that some students were discouraged by too much red ink. Others never bothered to read my comments at all. In one case a student – one of the weakest in the class – glanced at the mark and immediately deposited the essay in the rubbish bin. All the effort I had put into commenting on strengths and weaknesses was for naught.

For final assignments, some of my colleagues have a policy of asking students to say in advance whether they want comments. Students who don’t ask just receive a mark.

Years ago, I used to correct spelling and grammar as well as give comments on content. But I don’t teach English composition, so why become a proofreader? So I stopped giving detailed feedback on expression, and concentrate on content.

My current system is to write brief comments on each assessment criterion, mentioning strengths and ways to improve, and to supplement this with “general comments” that are generic for the whole class. The general comments explain my expectations and elaborate on how essays could be better. I say in my feedback that if my specific comments don’t say anything about a particular aspect of the assignment, then the student should look to the general comments. This approach avoids the need to write the same comments on essay after essay.

Varied assignments

Monotony is a great source of pain in marking. If there are 50 essays each answering the question “What are the factors behind the rise of social media?” the task quickly becomes tedious. If you are marking essays for someone else’s class and have no control over essay questions, you have my sympathies. Luckily, I’ve usually been able to set my own assignment topics. One of my goals has been to make it interesting for me to mark essays – even the ones that aren’t so good.

Thinking up assignments that are stimulating for students to carry out and for me to mark is not easy, but it has been worthwhile. Two ways of doing this are to give students quite a bit of choice in their topics and to invite or require them to use unconventional formats.

In an environmental politics class, we covered a series of topics such as sustainable development and the precautionary principle. Each week I asked the students to write a comment on that week’s environmental topic using a randomly chosen political, economic or other theory or framework, such as liberalism, militarism, feminism or Buddhism. Then for the final assignment, students had to write a dialogue between two characters, as in a script for a play, with footnotes as appropriate. Each character had to represent or embody some theory, for example Mao Tse-Tung for Marxism and Gandhi for pacifism. The characters had to discuss some environmental topic. So one possible dialogue would be between Mao and Gandhi discussing sustainable development.

For marking purposes, this assignment was delightful. Every submission was different, and many students were creative in their choices. One student crafted a discussion between Thomas the Tank Engine and Percy the Small Engine. Percy was a Rastafarian and used rasta slang; footnotes explained unusual terms.

When designing such unorthodox assignments, it can be challenging to explain to students exactly what is expected. I’ve found a fairly good method: with students’ permission, I post top assignments from previous years on my website. These show the format expected, for example a dialogue, and by demonstrating really good work can provide an inspiration to do well.

Designing an assignment that is interesting to mark has a spin-off effect. It can change the mode of covering the content. In many cases, I’ve found it effective to let students investigate topics themselves rather than me delivering lectures. For the environmental politics class, we had an excellent textbook for the environmental topics, and I let the students (many of whom were doing an environmental science degree) look up topics like liberalism and Buddhism on their own.

To some, this might seem to be abdicating a teacher’s responsibility to provide authoritative perspectives on content. For me, it is part of encouraging students to learn on their own, including finding relevant readings, understanding concepts and applying them to case studies.

In making marking more enjoyable, I also hope to make learning more enjoyable for students. By getting students to do more work on their own and tackle unorthodox assignments, I hope to encourage student creativity and initiative. I remind myself that for the teacher to work hard often is not all that relevant to student learning. Students learn more when they work hard, and they are more likely to work hard on an interesting assignment. When the assignment is interesting to both students and the teacher, it is a win-win solution.

Other applications

If marking can be made reasonably enjoyable, what about other dreaded tasks? What is dreaded depends on the person, and might be paperwork filing, housework, gardening, tax returns or practising the violin. Often it’s whatever you’re avoiding. Whatever the challenge, the same sorts of principles can be applied.

1. Work in moderation, a little bit each day, rather than procrastinating and bingeing.

2. Remain fresh and alert by taking breaks when needed.

3. Practise going a bit faster while maintaining quality.

4. Aim to do what’s good enough, not at perfection.

5. Redesign the task to make it more interesting.

Brian Martin

Further reading

Robert Boice, Advice for New Faculty Members: Nihil Nimus (Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2000): on moderation as a philosophy for academic work.

Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (New York: Random House, 2012): a fascinating account including advice on changing habits. (See Brian’s commentary.) subject outlines and outstanding student work illustrating unusual types of assignments.

Acknowledgements Thanks to Paula Arvela, Don Eldridge, Kathy Flynn and Anne Melano for helpful comments.

Términos relacionados con el temido ébola

La Fundéu nos recuerda qué términos y expresiones son correctas y adecuadas al tratar del virus ébola.

Con motivo de la expansión del virus del Ébola, se ofrecen las siguientes claves para una buena redacción de las noticias relacionadas:

1. La palabra ébola se escribe con inicial minúscula cuando se emplea de manera informal para hacer referencia a la enfermedad causada por el virus del mismo nombre, tal y como indica la Ortografía académica.

2. Para denominar al virus, se recomienda escribirlo con artículo determinado en masculino y con mayúscula inicial (virus del Ébola) por tratarse del nombre propio del río en el que se aisló por primera vez. A veces, por influencia del inglés, aparece sin la preposición (virus Ébola), uso que se desaconseja en español.

3. Antiébola, junto y sin guion, es la forma apropiada para referirse a los tratamientos, vacunas o protocolos empleados contra este virus, ya sea para evitar su propagación o para tratar la enfermedad.

4. Viral y vírico pueden utilizarse indistintamente, ya que se consideran sinónimos. En caso de aludir al tratamiento que se utiliza para combatir el virus, tanto antiviral como antivírico, ambas escritas sin guion, son las formas adecuadas que recoge el Diccionario de la lengua española.

5. EPI, en mayúsculas, es la sigla que hace referencia a los equipos de protección individual que están utilizando los sanitarios que tratan a pacientes infectados.

6. Esclusa, y no exclusa, es el término apropiado para denominar la zona que existe entre la habitación del enfermo infectado y la zona no restringida, y en la que los sanitarios se ponen y se quitan los equipos de protección individual.

7. La técnica sanitaria es el femenino adecuado de el técnico sanitario, para hacer alusión a la auxiliar de enfermería contagiada de ébola en España.

8. Suero hiperinmune, junto y sin guion, es una construcción válida para referirse al tratamiento experimental que se está empleando para combatir la enfermedad infecciosa y que contiene anticuerpos obtenidos de personas cuyo organismo ha creado una respuesta inmunitaria. Este suero se obtiene del plasma de la sangre de un paciente que ha superado la enfermedad, por lo que es frecuente encontrar ejemplos en los que se hace referencia a él simplemente como plasma.

9. Diagnosticar una enfermedad a una persona es una expresión más apropiada que diagnosticar a una persona de una enfermedad, que resulta inadecuada de acuerdo con el significado de este verbo.

10. El término mortalidad hace referencia a la tasa de muertes en un tiempo dado, mientras que mortandad es una gran cantidad de muertes causadas por epidemia u otro desastre. Aunque la expresión tasa de mortalidad es válida, se recuerda que puede hablarse simplemente de mortalidad, ya que su significado lleva implícito que se trata de una tasa.

11. Epidemia y pandemia no pueden utilizarse como sinónimos, se considera que una epidemia se propaga por un país durante un tiempo, mientras que una pandemia se extiende a otros países, tal como señala el Diccionario académico.

12. El verbo cursar, en el ámbito de la medicina, se refiere a la enfermedad o a sus síntomas, no al enfermo.

13. Sacrificar es un término más adecuado que eutanasiar para referirse al perro de la paciente contagiada en España. Aun así, eutanasiar puede considerarse un verbo bien formado y con cierto uso en el ámbito veterinario.

14. Alta va precedido por el artículo el si funciona como sustantivo («el alta médica»), mientras que, si se emplea como adjetivo, lo apropiado es anteponer la forma la («la alta fiebre»).

15. Dar de alta y dar el alta son expresiones que se construyen con diferentes pronombres: lo(s) y la(s) en el primer caso («La/lo dio de alta») y le(s) en el segundo («Le dio el alta»).

De nuevo, la poderosa fuerza de la coma (ejemplos y ejemplos).

El verbo “rehúyen” lleva acento

Antes de destar un acalorado debate en el aula, el Diccionario Panhispánico de dudas nos recuerda que algunas formas del verbo “rehuir” llevan tilde:

rehuir. 1. Verbo irregular: se conjuga como construir (apéndice 1, n.º 25). En cuanto a la acentuación de la secuencia vocálica /eu/, sigue el modelo de rehusar (apéndice 1, n.º 15), esto es, la -u- es tónica en las formas de este verbo que llevan el acento prosódico en la raíz; por lo tanto, en estos casos, la u debe escribirse con tilde para marcar el hiato ( tilde2, 2.2.2b): rehúyo, rehúyes, rehúye, rehúyen; rehúya, rehúyas, rehúyan. Las formas rehuísrehuí llevan acento gráfico, porque son bisílabas agudas terminadas en -s y en vocal, respectivamente. Por el contrario, el participio, rehuido, se escribe sin tilde (tilde2, 2.1.1 y 2.1.2).

Una palabra castellana: deleznable…

Hace ya unas semanas, la Fundéu señalaba que no era rechazable un nuevo significado de una palabra preciosa: deleznable.

En el Diccionario de la Real Academia constan estas acepciones:

1. adj. Despreciable, de poco valor.
2. adj. Poco durable, inconsistente, de poca resistencia.
3. adj. Que se rompe, disgrega o deshace fácilmente.
4. adj. Que se desliza y resbala con mucha facilidad.

La Fundéu apunta:

Según el Diccionario académico, esta voz significa sobre todo ‘de poca importancia’, ‘que se disgrega’ o ‘escurridizo’, razón por la cual este nuevo sentido ha sido censurado a menudo; sin embargo, lo recogen diversos diccionarios descriptivos, como el Clave, que señala que se puede aplicar a personas o acciones ‘que son reprobables, despreciables o viles’.

Dado su amplio uso, la propia Academia en su Diccionario del estudiante ya valida este significado y ofrece los siguientes ejemplos: «El terrorismo le parece deleznable» y «Deleznable comportamiento».

Vistas estas definiciones, no son rechazables frases como las siguientes: «Actitudes deleznables como el racismo han enturbiado el expediente», «El personaje es un hombre deleznable y capaz de todo» o «Ha cometido un acto deleznable políticamente como es intentar comprar a un concejal».

“Dealing with Disruptive Student Behavior” posting by Rick Reis

Very interesting and useful!


The posting below, a bit longer than most, gives some useful tips on dealing with disruptive student behavior. It is from, Chapter 6 – Dealing with disruptive students, in the book, Making Teaching Work: ‘Teaching Smarter’ in Post-Compulsory Education by Phil Race and Ruth Pickford. SAGE Publications Ltd. 1 Oliver’s Yard. 55 City Road, London EC1Y 1SP. © Phil Race and Ruth Pickford 2007 [‎] Reprinted with permission.



Rick Reis



Tomorrow’s Teaching and Learning

———- 2,944 words ———-

Dealing with Disruptive Student Behavior

Of course, even when you take steps to prevent disruptive behavior you can never guarantee a disruption-free class. Generally, it is as well to give any sort of disruptive student the minimum attention necessary because time focused on disruptive behavior is time that is not being spent on facilitating learning. Also, there is a danger of drawing other students into the situation who will then escalate the disruption. The golden rule of dealing with disruptive behavior is never to do anything that will make the situation worse. Below are suggestions for dealing with the most common types of disruptive behavior.


Dealing with noisy students


Students holding side conversations, using mobile phones or MP3 players can be quite off-putting for you and for other students. A direct approach of “Please don’t use your mobile phone” can often be the most effective. Consider starting the class with something like “Please switch all phones off, we’re about to start.” This not only sets the ground rules but also clearly indicates that the session has begun. It’s not a good idea to embarrass students who are talking or assume that their conversation isn’t related to what is being discussed in class. You may therefore wish to avoid direct confrontation, in which case the following are often successful.

* Stop talking in mid-sentence and look in a non-aggressive way at the student making the noise. Peer pressure may  quieten them.

* Try speaking more quietly. This causes the noisy students to become more obvious in contrast and other students may ask   them to quieten down.

* Make direct eye contact with the student/s so that they know you can see them.

* Direct a question to the area in which the noisy students are sitting. This focuses attention on that area of the class.

* Try physically moving to the part of the room where the students are and continue to lead the class whilst standing next to them.

* If you hear a student make an interesting comment you could respond to it, thereby encouraging comments from other students.

* Consider legitimizing the chatting by breaking the class into mini-discussion groups.

Dealing with inattentive students

Students who don’t pay attention are not necessarily disruptive and you should weigh up the benefits of interceding before acting. If you decide you would like to increase a student’s attentiveness it is a good idea to try to make eye contact with them. You may also find that students are suddenly more attentive if you ask them a question, if you explicitly relate the topic to assessment or keep them active.


Dealing with late arrivers

This is one of those matters which is high on most lecturer’s list of problems. How you handle late-comers will be one of the things that sets the whole tone of your classes. The following suggestions may help you to weigh up the pros and cons of a variety of tactics, and to choose what will work best for you.

Don’t forget that sometimes students have good reasons for being late. There may have been a transport problem. They may have just come from a previous lecture on a distant part of the campus – or another campus altogether. Their previous lecture may have over-run – this isn’t their fault. Avoid saying anything irretrievable. It could be that this was the first time ever that the late-comer had been late and/or it might have been unavoidable, but they still plucked up the courage to come in. Remember that the late-comer has at least got to you.


If you are too hard on late-comers, they may well decide simply not to come at all next time they’re late for your sessions. This may well cause you more problems, not least that regular late-comers who become regular absentees are much more likely to fail your course or module, and this reflects on you even when it’s not your fault. Recognize that at least some disruption is inevitable. It’s usually best not to simply carry on as though no one was making their late way into the class. At the very least some of the other students may well miss something you said, distracted by the late-comer’s entrance. Sometimes it’s best simply to pause till the late-comer is settled in. In any case, a few extra moments to gather your own thoughts can often be useful. When there are repeated disturbances through the arrival of successive late-comers, the majority of the students often have their own ways of showing their disapproval concerning the disruption, sparing you from having to do anything.


If students are habitually arriving late for your class and distracting students who arrive on time, then let students know that the first five minutes of each class will cover material relating directly to the assignment. You don’t then need to make special efforts to brief late-comers about what they may have missed – and indeed if those without good reasons for being late begin to realize that they are missing useful things, they will tend to try to be more punctual in future.


Dealing with early leavers

This same approach of including something relevant to assessment can be applied to the last five minutes of class to encourage students not to leave early. If students see the value in being there they are more likely to make the effort. If this doesn’t have any effect on persistent early leavers (or late attenders) then you need to tread carefully. You may wish to state clearly your expectations for attendance, but equally you may wish not to risk alienating the students. Whatever you do, don’t waste time at the beginning or end of the session discussing excuses as this is unfair to the rest of the class and is unproductive.


Dealing with domineering students

Some students can overpower the group and inhibit the contributions and learning of others. It’s your responsibility to manage the group, without alienating these students or disrupting learning. In a small group, make eye contact with the domineering student and then thank them for their contribution. Then try asking someone in another part of the room to speak. If the student persists in dominating the discussion summarize their point and ask others to speak, or indicate that you are ready to move on by starting to prepare for the next activity.


Dealing with rambling students

Some students can regularly wander around and off the subject. Clearly this can detract from the learning experience of other students. It is important to try to refocus the student’s attention by restating relevant points and asking the student to summarize their main point. Try directing questions to the group, perhaps using visual aids to bring the discussion back on track.


Dealing with distressed students

Whilst it is good to be empathetic, it is not appropriate for you to become a student’s counsellor. It is not your responsibility to offer therapy but to manage the situation to enable the rest of the class to get on with their learning. Refer students with emotional, psychological or financial trouble to the appropriate counsellors.


Dealing with challenges to your authority

Some students may make a habit of disagreeing with everything you say. You should consider recognizing their opinions, pulling out any valid points and restating them before moving on, perhaps drawing the rest of the group into the discussion. It is important not to be sidetracked or to enter into an argument. It may be best to arrange to discuss the issues with the student out of class time. Be willing to explain, but not necessarily to defend, your position.


Dealing with disruptive students online


Possibly because of the difficulty in interpreting emotions, disruptions to online classes can be challenging to manage. Disruption can be direct such as abusive emails, or less direct such as a student posting material which offends some others. Following are some methods for dealing with disruptive students online:

* Delete any inappropriate postings on the discussion board.

* Phone or email the disruptive student and objectively inform the student of the problem and how they were disruptive.

* Explain what the possible consequences will be if they continue to be disruptive.

* For a persistent offender consider blocking the student from posting in a forum or removing that student from the group.

* Save any postings for future reference.


Ineffective ways to deal with disruption

Most of us learn the hard way that there are some avenues which are NOT advisable when dealing with disruption in class.

  1. Reacting aggressively. Although you may find that in the short term shouting at students works, in the longer term students may lose respect for you if the only way you can maintain control of a class is by losing control of yourself. It is not a good idea to try to intimidate students as this may lead to a stand-off where students not wishing to lose face may challenge you further. At the very least you are likely to reduce their engagement.


  1. Ignoring the disruption. It is inadvisable to ignore or give in to unacceptable behavior as you may find that the disruption increases and you risk losing control of the class. It’s also not generally a good idea to resort to sarcasm or embarrassing students, as you may harm your credibility and lose respect.


  1. Punishing the non-disruptive students. If you refuse to carry on until a couple of chattering students quieten down then this penalizes the non-disruptive students. Equally, locking the door five minutes into class time stops the chronic late comers but also penalizes the student who may have an unavoidable reason for being late.


A far better way to deal with disruption is to focus on maintaining control without resorting to aggression or sarcasm.


Don’t let a crisis turn into a drama!

This is the golden rule in dealing with disruptive students, particularly in large-group contexts like lectures. This is perhaps best illustrated by a case study.

One Thursday, Dr. Smith was lecturing to a large class in a research-led university. He was teaching a rather difficult (and not particularly interesting) mathematical area of an engineering topic, and his students were getting fed up, both with Dr. Smith and the subject.   Dr. Smith himself was rather more interested in his research than his teaching at the time of the incident and was somewhat stretched by also getting a funding bid in on time, so his patience was not at its optimum.

When he turned to the board to write a rather cumbersome equation for the students to copy down, a student whistled. He turned round but could not see who had whistled. When he returned writing the equation, the whistle was heard again. He again turned round, but still could not distinguish the culprit. He turned round quickly enough at the next occurrence of the whistle, and caught the student who had whistled. He was quite cross at this point, and asked the student to leave the lecture. The student refused.

As you may imagine, this crisis had turned into a drama. There was no going back. In fact, Dr. Smith had to be taken off the course concerned, as uppermost in the minds of that set of students would be the incident from that Thursday. The pivotal point was Dr. Smith asking the student to leave – and the student refusing. This was an irreversible step. In an instant, even many of the students who actually found the whistling juvenile and irritating tended to side with the offender. If the student had left, the incident may have receded away from the consciousness of the student group over time, but the student still remained. Short of getting the university’s security staff to take the student away there was no turning back, and that in itself would have constituted an irreversible step.

It is not surprising that something rather dramatic, such as the incident above, is likely to be considerably more memorable to the students than the rather dry and boring topic that was being covered in the lecture. The fact that the result was for Dr. Smith to be taken off the course was naturally taken as a victory by the students, even though most of them had little time for the offending student’s behavior that day. Perhaps the most important learning point from this story is that it only takes a second or two to get into an irreversible drama with a large group of students.


A ten step approach for dealing with disruptive students

  1. Don’t take the disruption personally

Focus on the distraction rather than on the student and don’t take disruption personally. Students are often unaware that they are being disruptive. Your attitude will come across to your students so it is important that you remain positive and give students the benefit of the doubt. By remaining objective and not taking the situation personally, you can respond in a calm manner.


  1. Stay calm

It is a good idea to take control of the situation before you become impatient, upset or irritated. You will be much more authoritative when you are perceived to be dealing with the distraction in a composed manner and when students believe that you like them. Don’t become angry or sarcastic as this will make the situation worse. Save your energies for your teaching.


  1. Decide when you will deal with the situation

It is very important that you allow students to save face where possible. The class will not always respond well if you put students down in front of others. If the nature of the disruption requires you to have a lengthy discussion with the student, then arrange to meet after class. However, it is best to address most disruptive behaviors quickly and immediately as they arise.


  1. Be polite

Don’t get into an argument. It is far better to say “I’d like to continue with the class” or “It is important that you concentrate for the next few minutes” than “Don’t talk when I’m talking.”


  1. Listen to the student

Really listen to what a disruptive student is saying. Where it is practicable let them finish and don’t interrupt them. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand what is lying behind the disruption.


  1. Check you understand

Ask questions until you have enough information to understand the situation.


  1. Decide what you’re going to do

Think win-win but always prioritize the learning experience of the non-disruptive students.


  1. Explain your decision to the student

Tell the students what you have decided, explain your rationale and check they understand.


  1. Follow through – You must do what you said you would do!

Don’t threaten actions you are not prepared to carry out or that you are not able to ensure are carried out. Only in the most drastic of situations should you ask a student to leave the class – what will you do if a student refuses to leave? Only as a very last resort should you leave the class yourself. Don’t threaten to do these things unless you are prepared to follow through on them.


  1. Document your decisions

Where the disruption has resulted in significant action it is a good idea to document the nature of the disruption, your actions and the rationale for your decision. This will help you to reflect and evaluate.



No two classes are alike. Each class has its own personality and how you deal with disruptive behavior may differ between classes. It’s really helpful if you know all of your students’ names because students are less likely to be disruptive if they know that you know them. Where you have tried unsuccessfully to resolve an issue in class it is usually best not to escalate the issue but to attempt to resolve it at a later time outside the classroom. If you are available to students outside class time and if you invite students to contact you with concerns and questions, both these actions can prevent many problems arising in class time.

Deal with each distraction objectively. If you’re the only one who’s being irritated by a particular behavior, such as a student falling asleep, then that behavior is only disruptive if you let it be. If you do anything in class to address a non-disruptive behavior, you transform it into a disruption. You could therefore choose to ignore the behavior. If the behavior seriously annoys you, you could approach the student outside class and ask why they are doing it.


All the guidance in this chapter has been directed at dealing with non-threatening disruptive behavior. However, should an incident occur in your class that causes you to fear for your safety or that of your students:

* Stay calm.

* Do not turn your back on the student.

* Do not touch the student.

* Call security.

Although incidents of this type are rare you never know when they might occur, so it is a good idea to always carry a mobile phone and to ensure that you know how to contact security.

Whilst it is useful to consider how you might deal with disruptions when they arise it is important not to worry overly about maintaining control. Interaction in a session is actually quite a good thing and the unpredictability of each class can enrich the students’ and your experience. Although this chapter offers a range of suggestions for how to cope with different types of disruption, often the best course of action is the simplest; to ask the disruptive students to stop what they’re doing. Finally, remember that most students are polite and helpful and want to learn!

Hispana supera los 5 millones de recursos digitales

Originalmente publicado en Investigación científica en abierto:

Hispana, el agregador de recursos digitales de la Subdirección General de Coordinación Bibliotecaria ha alcanzado los 5 millones de objetos digitales, que proceden de 207 repositorios. El proyecto se puso en producción a principios de 2005 con 25 repositorios y cerca de 120.000 objetos digitales.

En cuanto a la tipología de los repositorios que recolecta hay que señalar, en primer lugar, por su número los repositorios institucionales de las universidades. El segundo grupo, que aporta el mayor volumen de registros,  es el de las bibliotecas digitales de las CCAA, del propio Ministerio y de las más importantes instituciones de memoria como Reales Academias, ateneos, fundaciones, etc. Entre los recursos patrimoniales que incluye Hispana se encuentran también los de la Biblioteca Nacional de España, tanto los fondos de la Biblioteca Digital Hispánica como de la Hemeroteca Digital. El tercer grupo lo constituyen 39 museos que forman parte de CERes, la…

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