Distressed and Disruptive Students Presentation Assessment
One of the goals for the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards is to provide outreach and support for faculty and staff. One of the ways that we go about providing this outreach is through presentations to incoming graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) about the ways that they can recognize, interact with, and help distressed and disruptive students in their classes. This presentation is also given to faculty groups who request the information and often includes additional information from the Dean of Students Office, CAPS, Public Safety, DAS, and Student Health Services.
As part of our 08-09 assessment plan we decided to survey the incoming graduate students about their experience and learning during the presentation. We utilized Student Voice in order to do this survey and I am linking the skeletal outline ddsuvery that I created for them to use when creating our online survey. The goal of the presentation is to make instructors feel more comfortable and prepared to recognize and address disruptive and distressed students as well as more knowledgeable about the resources and support systems available to assist them in these situations at OSU. As such most of the questions pertained to finding out whether these learning outcomes were met. Given that we are always looking to improve the presentation and gain a new understanding of the up and coming challenges that instructors face we made sure to ask them what else they would have liked to hear about.
Dan and/or I gave the presentations to approximately five different groups of twenty incoming GTAs in mid-September 2008. We collected email addresses from participants and told them that we would be conducting a survey at the end of the term and would appreciate their feedback. The original hope was to provide GTAs with enough time to have potentially come in contact with a distressed or disruptive student and therefore have a greater context with which to answer the survey questions. I sent out an initial email with the survey link and had 9 respondents. I sent out a second email and also received a bit of support from one of the GTA supervisors in order to increase my numbers and in the end had 23 respondents, approximately a 25% completion rate.
The results from the first five questions were quantitatively positive. Over 90% Strongly Agreed or Agreed with the survey statements. As is to be expected the open-ended questions were a bit harder to lump together. When asked what parts of the presentation were most useful GTAs responded in three somewhat distinct ways: they were either glad to have information and resources to turn to, glad to hear that these students exists and that their actions are often not a result of poor teaching, or had not experienced any incidents yet and therefore did not comment on the most effective components. In regards to additional resources, a few GTAs recommended having some way of providing new and updated information to them regarding these types of issues throughout the year. One GTA suggested brochures, one a basic contact card (similar to the one we gave out), and one a website where they could find “tips” on handling distressed and disruptive students. The most frequent additional comment was that the presentation had been a long time ago and therefore the GTAs could not remember everything from it.
In terms of analyzing the results, it became clear that having a more ongoing and easily accessible way for staff and faculty to access this information would be helpful. We already have brochures and contact cards that we provide to people and there is a bit of information on the Dean of Students website that addressed distressed and disruptive students. However, it may be valuable to scan these documents onto our website for easy access and update them when necessary.
The one sure thing that we are going to change based on the survey data is the way in which we go about administering the survey. Next year we are going to get all of the GTA supervisors involved in helping us encourage people to respond to the survey. This should help to increase the number of respondents. In addition, we are going to send out a reminder to GTAs about the upcoming survey and get it to them a month after the presentation is given. While this may still not be enough time for them to have had many experiences with distressed or disruptive students, it will not create such a large lag time between presentation and assessment and this will hopefully lead to more accurate results.