Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology

Strategies for Equity and Inclusion in Virtual Instruction: Respond to Behavior that Detracts from Learning

Instructional Continuity

Any one of an array of events can disrupt faculty’s ability to teach courses via on-campus, in-class sessions. Cal Poly’s commitment to students includes making sure that we provide students an opportunity to complete courses despite disruptions, whenever possible. The steady advancement of communication and instructional technologies has greatly enhanced faculty’s opportunities to provide quality virtual learning experiences in these situations. With  planning, training on selected user-friendly technologies, and available mentoring on effective instruction, faculty can be better prepared to continue instruction through many forms of instructional disruptions.

Respond to Behavior that Detracts from Learning in the Virtual Environment

The recent move to virtual learning because of the coronavirus pandemic has presented instructors with new challenges in responding to student behavior that detracts from learning or disrupts an inclusive learning environment. 

This guide provides suggestions for preventing and responding to a variety of situations that instructors may encounter, including: 1) how to communicate expectations and take action to limit the negative impact of offensive behavior in the virtual learning environment, and 2) general recommendations for responding to behavior or words that instructors may find racist (or otherwise oppressive), offensive, and/or detrimental to learning.

Suggestions for Communicating Expectations and Limiting Detrimental Situations in the Virtual Learning Environment

Difficult situations are likely to arise in any learning environment, regardless of how well you plan ahead of time. However, there are a number of proactive steps that you can take to communicate your expectations for student behavior in the virtual environment and to limit disruptions that may be more common in a virtual learning environment. Read about suggestions for communicating expectations and limiting detrimental situations in the virtual learning environment. 

Strategies for Addressing Behavior that is Detrimental to the Virtual Learning Environment

This page considers suggestions and strategies for responding to words or behavior that may be intentionally or unintentionally harmful to the course climate, to the instructor, and to students who are targeted or marginalized by the words or actions of others. Although each situation will be context-specific and require a tailored response, there are some general recommendations that you may apply in variety of scenarios. Included are suggestions for responding to behavior that you feel is offensive, racist, and otherwise detrimental to learning.

In these situations, you can always: interrupt and question the behavior; correct misinformation; communicate your opinion; explain why the behavior may be offensive, hurtful, and/or damaging; and offer support to students in your class who may feel targeted. The suggestions included are intended to be used in either synchronous or asynchronous situations, though they may need to be altered depending on the particular context of the situation. Learn about strategies for addressing behavior that is detrimental to the virtual learning environment.

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