PIDP 3250 Dealing with students who come late to class.

A question recently posted on the forum is “How to deal with students who come late to class?” I am certain this is a common problem faced by all instructors. It was informative to read the many ideas and responses that arose from this question.
I work in the Middle East and have been abroad for some time. Our student population is composed of students of many different backgrounds. Culturally, for some students, coming late for class does not seem to be an issue (to them anyway.) When students come to class late, it can disrupt the flow of my lecture or discussion, distract other students, and impede learning. I often wonder if students fail to realize the level of disruption that coming in late creates for their fellow classmates and for me.I have learnt that I need to clearly and unequivocally articulate my policy about lateness in my syllabus and on the first day of class. I realize the importance of explaining my policy in relation to standards of professionalism that students will need to meet when they enter the work world. I believe that it is important for an instructor to have consequences for lateness. There are a number of ways to penalize lateness. From the forum postings some examples include: Some instructors institute a lateness policy along with their attendance policy (e.g., two late arrivals counts as one absence). Some simply draw attention to the behavior or register disapproval when a student enters late (e.g., pausing, frowning and making a pointed comment, or posting a sign on the door such as “You’re late; please be quiet when you enter”). Another way to handle lateness is to give short quizzes at the beginning of class; students who come late will miss the quizzes and lose the points. I am constantly encouraging communication from my clinical students. The clinical students know it is their responsibility to communicate with me if they are experiencing a legitimate problem that will cause them to be late or otherwise miss clinical time. A key point gained from the forum postings is the need to explain the educational and social impact of lateness to the students. I need to explain to students that coming late has both intellectual and social costs. I must impress upon students that when they arrive late, they detract from their classmates’ learning and interrupt my train of thought. Often this occurs at the beginning of class, when the instructor is making connections to previous materials and framing the day’s content in terms of key questions or points. When students come in late they not only miss that important framing information, but the distraction they create may cause their classmates to miss it too. In addition I understand the need to explain the social impact of lateness. I (and many instructors) interpret lateness as disrespect.
I strongly believe that students need to understand the importance of being on time, not only in college but in their future life. Finding what works best for each individual student is part of managing a class effectively. I think it is important that students understand that coming into class late can have consequences on their grade. In addition, I think it is key to use consistent consequences. Students will respect you and your rules more if you apply them consistently. If you have created a policy that includes specific disciplinary actions for tardiness, these should be followed at all times.


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