Book By: Braxton, John M. and Bayer, Alan E. (Eds.)
Review By: Denise Yacullo Rodak
Center for Academic Advising and Adult Learning
Montclair State University
Students often indicate that their poor classroom performance is the result of the professor’s teaching ability/style. Advisors find that addressing this accusation is difficult because students could be denying accountability and blaming professors when in reality they simply did not do the work. Or, student performance could be the result of disorganized professors who did not establish a classroom climate conducive to learning.
Addressing Faculty and Student Classroom Improprieties examines how the classroom dynamic relates to students’ intellectual development, and offers a number of suggestions on how both parties, the students and the faculty, can be held accountable for their actions. Organized into three parts -- background, faculty improprieties and remedies, and student rights and improprieties -- the text presents “theoretical and conceptual frameworks from which to view the dynamics of both faculty and student incivilities as they may affect both the teaching and learning process” (p. 4). The editors contend that the actions of both parties do not exist in a vacuum, but rather impact upon each other to ultimately determine the classroom climate.
What constitutes faculty improprieties? In the past, much of the focus on faculty impropriety has been linked to indiscretions outside of the classroom (p.89). Through research directed to the formal teaching and learning environment, one study identified in the text found that inadequate course preparation, a condescending and demeaning attitude, and particularistic grading “hampers the academic and intellectual development of students” (p. 44). To combat these and other issues, the editors strongly recommend that a “code of conduct for undergraduate teaching” be ratified by the appropriate faculty governing body as a way to “communicate to the lay public the high value placed on undergraduate students as clients of teaching by the institution” (p. 54). Editors devote an entire chapter to explaining what should be included in such a code and to the steps for its implementation.
The editors address the formalization of students’ rights and expectations through two vehicles: the student handbook and the course syllabus. They provide detailed examples of both and cite the importance of providing procedural guidelines for student reporting any instances of classroom improprieties.
This book should serve as a retention resource for advisors, department chairpersons, deans, student government representatives, and those involved in developing new faculty training programs. The editors contend that “curbing student classroom incivilities can have a positive, direct effect on subsequent commitment to the institution” (p. 72). Although many advisors will not be a part of the development a code of conduct for faculty members or rewrite the student handbook, they can use the principles set forth to help students understand their rights and responsibilities in the classroom.
Addressing Faculty and Student Classroom Improprieties: New Directions for Teaching and Learning, No 99. (2004). Book by Braxton, John M. and Bayer, Alan E. (Eds.). Review by Denise Yacullo Rodak. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 120 pp. Price $29.00. ISBN #0-7879-7794-2.