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Recognizing a Disengaged Scholar

Student scholars can exhibit a variety of behaviors to indicate disengagement in the classroom. To assist you in recognizing a disengaged student scholar, the Office of the Provost has developed a summary of characteristics and resources to support you and the student scholar.

Disengagement can manifest in multiple forms. Pay special attention to changes in behavior, including:

  • A change in attitude from being highly engaged and active to quiet and disengaged
  • Body language, such as not focusing on the class, being distracted by their phone or another device, repeatedly turning off their camera on Zoom
  • Changes in energy level and late arrivals to class
  • Late assignments
  • Missed classes and appointments including office hours
  • In-class disruptions or inappropriate behavior
  • Negative interactions with peers
  • Signs of violence, aggression, or withdrawal

Pathway Forward—Offer Support
If you recognize any of these behaviors, first contact the student scholar to discuss what support and class accommodations you can offer to help their engagement and success.

As a reminder, student scholars who become disengaged could be reacting to:

  • Individual, family, or peer health issues, including physical, mental, and emotional challenges
  • Financial insecurity
  • Food or shelter insecurity
  • Unemployment
  • Domestic violence or abuse
  • Learning difficulties

If further action is needed, refer student scholars to or contact the appropriate campus department for additional support and assistance:

  • Academic Success Center – academic, attendance, or student engagement concerns; academic alerts; and referring student scholars to the ASC
  • Center for Care & Resilience – support for student scholars in distress is available 24/7 by calling 865-974-HELP (4357)
  • Dean of Students – assist student scholars with well-being and emergency support resources such as Big Orange Pantry and Big Orange Meal Share
  • Student Counseling Center – UT’s primary resource for mental health care and support
  • Student Disability Services – provides accommodations and support to student scholars for equitable access