Anyone teaching at the U.S. university level for two decades or more may recall when a dramatic change in student classroom behavior first became manifest. A tendency to regard attendance at a given class session as flexible, volitional, variable, and without concern for disruptive side-effects—with respect to each class segment—arose rather suddenly within the last 20 years, and continues. Specifically, for students to casually leave the room during class has become commonplace. Diagnosis of possible cause(s) and motivation for such arbitrary or rude wandering is attempted here, along with tentative prescriptive response. Investigative methods are primarily analytic and exploratory, including hundreds of interviews, augmented by formal survey. The basic finding is that faculty respondents do find the referenced behavior a serious problem. This work-product is apparently the first research to target the designated behavioral change.
- A new form of disruptive student behavior, actually a tectonic discontinuity, has plagued college classrooms in recent years, and needs to be addressed.
- Before behavioral correction can be attempted, broad faculty awareness of the issue must be established. This aim is aspirational because such general cognition does not seem to have been registered.
- The purpose of the following article is to call attention to this operational issue of the higher education classroom, one that has not been taken seriously enough, apparently.
- Yet a plurality of survey respondents at one university identify the focal student behavior as problematic, with literature search results suggesting national scope.
- Evidence suggests absence of legitimate reason for the new behavior pattern, which would elevate the gravity and urgency of faculty reflection and response.
Gaski, J. F. (2023). An enduring college classroom annoyance: The wandering student phenomenon. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 20(1), 8-12. https://doi.org/10.53761/1.20.01.02