Cookie policy: This site uses cookies to simplify and improve your usage and experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information on how we use and manage cookies please take a look at our privacy and cookie policies. Your privacy is important to us and our policy is to neither share nor sell your personal information to any external organisation or party; nor to use behavioural analysis for advertising to you.

Lecturers forced to use red cards on rowdy students

Academics turn to primary school tactics to quash bad behaviour, study finds

Man holding soccer red card

Source: Alamy

Seeing red: lecturers have resorted to a technique used in primary schools

Students’ in-class behaviour is sometimes so bad that lecturers are resorting to a red and yellow card warning system – a technique sometimes used by primary schoolteachers.

Undergraduates would “push the teacher as much as they could” so lecturers were having to police their behaviour in ways “you wouldn’t even expect in secondary school”, according to a study of “laddism” among sports science students.

Carolyn Jackson, a professor in the department of educational research at Lancaster University, observed lecturers and interviewed students and academics at a large post-1992 institution in the south of England between 2011 and 2013.

“Laddish” behaviour included “talking and generally being loud (which disrupted classes); being a joker; throwing stuff; arriving late; and being rude and disrespectful to lecturers”, according to her paper, “ ‘Lad Culture’ and Learning in Higher Education”.

“Some lecturers told alarming stories of aggressive and very antagonistic confrontations between lecturers and male students,” it adds.

Presenting her paper at the annual conference of the Society for Research into Higher Education in Newport, Wales, in December, Professor Jackson said lecturers had to use “shocking” behaviour management techniques, such as the card system, something one “wouldn’t even expect in secondary school”.

One student, Pete, described how the lads in his first year would indulge in “loudness, messing about, giggling, laughing in classes and trying to get away with stuff and push the teacher as much as they could”.

Other students would chastise the “lads” for their behaviour, Professor Jackson’s research found. One lecturer, John, recalled a “very strong lass” turning to the lads and saying: “will you shut the fuck up, I’m trying to learn”.

“And they did…peer pressure gets them a lot more because suddenly they’re made to look fools by a girl,” the lecturer said.

Another lecturer said the card system was used “because football students understand this rule very well”, Professor Jackson recalled.

But the paper suggested that after the first year, the most disruptive students had been “weeded out” as many failed their first-year exams.

Last year the National Union of Students published That’s What She Said, a report on women’s experience of “lad culture” in universities, which documented boorish, heavy drinking, misogynist and homophobic behaviour by male students.

However, Professor Jackson’s research found almost no evidence of sexual harassment or “rape-supportive attitudes” by lads, and homophobia was “rarely mentioned”.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

Rate this article  (3.33 average user rating)

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Readers' comments (2)

  • Unfortunately 'red card behaviour' also occurs in sixth form college and is a cause of great concern regarding the next generation of health and social care professionals. In the face of implied threats many students are afraid to challenge their classmates and often either struggle with their own learning or opt out of some lessons.
    However, academic performance and poor work rate by the end of the first academic year is usually very telling. Many of the 'lads' and 'ladettes' often realise too late that their career choices become greatly restricted. Hopefully, colleges will be supported in the recruitment process to ensure that potential health and social care professionals possess the right attributes to begin training for this extremely important vocation/career.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • What a sexist, one-sided article, I'm a university student and girls are as bad, if not worse than guys, especially when it comes to arriving late and chatting with each other and disturbing others during lectures, but interesting to see how this article makes it look like it's just guys causing the problem.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

Remember you need to be a registered THE member and logged in to comment on stories. Please read our terms and conditions for posting guidance.

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comments (2)
  • Rate
  • Save
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comments (2)
  • Rate
  • Save