Coping with 7 Disruptive Personality Types in the Classroom



Hi Everyone,

Here is another great resource on how to cope with certain personality types in the classroom. Link:


The typical college professor is bound to run into his or her share of difficult students during the course of an academic career. Some students create nuisances by engaging in annoying behavior, such as interfering with classroom proceedings, making irrelevant comments, and causing noisy interruptions. They may turn assignments in late, disregard the course expectations, and insist on special treatment for themselves. Other students, however, may pose a very real threat to the safety of the professor and fellow students.

Relatively few college professors are trained in how to recognize and respond effectively to these challenging or threatening behaviors. Sometimes, faculty members will have difficulty distinguishing between a student who is a mere nuisance and a student who poses a very real hazard to the community. It is comforting to know that many of the most difficult and disruptive encounters with students tend to fall into predictable, known categories.

This white paper will also help you to set enforceable standards, expectations, and boundaries flexibly with students, depending on the exhibited personality style.

After reading this white paper, you will know how to better manage passive-aggressive behaviors such as sleeping in class, lateness, and procrastination. You will learn essential principles regarding the value of collaborating with on-campus resources to resolve disruptive crises. This white paper also provides guidance to help professors know whether and when they need to report certain disruptive incidents.

Perhaps most important, this report provides the guidance necessary to help instructors and administrators recognize “red flags” that portend physical risk when dealing with potentially dangerous students.

The seven disruptive personality styles are: explosive, antisocial, passive-aggressive, narcissistic, paranoid, litigious, and compulsive.

We will cover each personality style in turn and then look at likely situations in which each could manifest troublesome behavior in the classroom and elsewhere on campus. We will then suggest various ways for instructors to respond effectively to disruptive students according to the students’ personality style.

Before proceeding, a few words of explanation are in order. First, it is important to understand that the personality styles described herein are not clinical diagnoses or psychiatric designations. In other words, there is nothing especially scientific, medical, or


psychiatric in the use of these terms. They are simply imprecise, descriptive terms to suggest certain social personae.

Second, the personality styles in this paper are not pure types or reifications of actual individuals; rather, the styles loosely describe, represent, or match a set of distinguishing personality characteristics that will most likely not precisely describe any single individual. Therefore, as we discuss the various types of personality styles, you will note that they tend to overlap with one another to some degree.

Third, although it will be helpful for instructors to recognize and understand the various personality styles of students in order to respond appropriately to students’ perturbing idiosyncrasies, it is also essential that instructors never address students by using these designations, either in speaking to or about particular students. This is because these words ordinarily have a pejorative connotation, and some students will perceive them as insulting. ”




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