I have a student who keeps answering other students' questions before I could even start explaining. What should I do in this case? Should I ask them to come meet with me? If so, how should I convey that it is not ok and it is not their job.
This would, I think, depend a lot on how the "answering" student goes about it. Just interrupting a request to the professor is disruptive, but some people do this sort of thing by reflex. But yes, a quiet word is in order. Ask them to meet with you. But decide first on what you would like them to do to correct the action.
If the answers they give are generally correct then it is a different situation than if they are mostly irrelevant, I think.
One thing that such a student fails to understand, of course, is that often the best answer is a minimal answer. An answer that lets students develop insight, not just get answers. Saying too much in answering a student question may be worse than saying nothing.
One option is just to require them to remain silent, but another is to ask (require) them to raise a hand before saying anything and first getting permission. But yet another, that might be useful, depending on the student, is to require them to write out an answer when they feel the need, rather than to blurt it out verbally.
But the behavior can be a symptom of many things. Some are insecurities on the part of the student; a need for affirmation. Some would just be showing off for the professor. Without knowing what it is, it is difficult to formulate an exact solution.
You have a right, of course, not to have your course disrupted by outbursts, but think a bit about whether the disruptor has needs that also need to be met. So, as part of your quiet word with them, ask first why they think it important to do that. Depending on your view of the student, the question might be direct, or you might want to be a bit more subtle about it.
And sometimes it is actually useful to have students volunteer answers to the questions of others as long as you maintain control over the process. If one student is dominating a conversation, it might be counterproductive for others.
There are two main components to be handled:
- The question
- The answer
For (1), you can either choose to say
Please ask your question after I finish this part
or take the question right away.
For (2), I usually prefer to ask the classroom
Is there anyone who wants to answer this question?
If someone volunteers, and in your case someone always does, then I let the one who asked the question listen to the answer. Then, the important part comes:
Did you understand the answer?
or rather, as @Bob Brown pointed out,
Is there anything I should explain in more detail?
If the answer is understood, then everyone is happy. If not, then I proceed to explain the answer in my own way.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that the students understand as much as they can, regardless of the person explaining. Of course, it is sometimes annoying for a student to interrupt your answer arrogantly. But you can always turn this situation into your advantage. Remember that there will be a question where someone else wants to answer, and then your lecture becomes interactive. Interactive lectures, in my opinion, are the best to follow and the most enjoyable ones.
In many classes, there are a few students who participate way more than others. I would recommend doing two things in this case.
Have times when it is appropriate for students to answer each other's questions. It wasn't clear from your question whether your class has that, but if it doesn't, consider adding it. Everyone benefits -- some students get their questions answered, others get to think through the material more deeply, and everyone realizes that they can think and learn on their own, without everything coming from you.
Make the student into an ally. Pull them aside after class and say that you appreciate their enthusiasm and engagement. Then, make your request -- in your case, say that you need a chance to answer student questions without them jumping in. Don't sound like you're asking for a favor, just making a polite request, preferably with a reason. "I need you to not jump in when another student asks a question. It's important that I can address some subtle issues that can arise." End on a positive note, maybe appreciation or recognition of their interest.
There's not enough information in the OP to know if this is the case, I'm adding my answer in case it may help others.
I was forced to take a class for a subject in which I was already proficient (introduction to programming). As the course progressed, I noticed my teacher would answer other students' questions with answers that were correct, but long-winded with lots of background that ended up confusing some of the other students.
E.g. on a question about why 3 / 2 returns 1 (instead of 1.5), he began talking about floating point numbers, and how because of the way they're represented in memory, you can end up errors, including a tangent on binary numbers (which wasn't on the syllabus). While it was interesting context, he never ended up answering the original question, nor explaining what the student could do to solve the problem. We'd often run out of time in class.
Some of the students would ask me the question again in private, confessing that they didn't understand his response. Even though I knew it was rude to do, I'd sometimes interject before he had a chance to respond so that I could explain the concept to the whole class at once, instead of multiple times individually.
A very convoluted way to agree with @user2768's comment that sometimes a fellow student is a better judge of the level of knowledge the other students have. It might be worth paying attention to the answer they gave compared to the answer you gave / were intending to give.
In my situation, I did try to talk to the teacher about it, but he was adamant that there wasn't a problem.
I used to be that student. @Buffy's answer covers most of it, but one scenario she has not mentioned is much simpler, and was the reason I did this: impatience.
When the question was trivial and the answer obvious, I wanted to move the course along so I would blurt it out in hopes to nip it in the bud.
Of course I now know how misguided that behavior is, but it seemed logical at the time.
I have had this problem, and I was vaguely warned beforehand. Nevertheless it came as a surprise that the pupil was one I knew before. She still hadn't got a job. No wonder why. And the warnings were about "being too talkative", "taking over class discussions", "irritating the other pupils".
So, here it goes, refering to this pupil of mine: Your student may be "on the spectrum". Highly intelligent, with a dash of Asperger. Brain the size of a planet. A know-it-all who can behave in an unknowingly arrogant manner. (And "Hi IQ Aspians" are often likely to have an uneven study motivation). However, unlike others they may be more receptive to getting the situation if you describe it not as a struggle for being the top dog, rather "I prefer you let me lead the lessons, as you interfere with the other's learning process by taking over both student and teacher role. I know you know this subject by now, so just let's just roll through this course".
There's nothing wrong with students answering each others' questions. It helps them "own" the subject rather than see it as something you dispense. However in this case it seems to be unhelpful to the other students as well as to the teacher.
The disruptive student seems to be frustrated that the pace of the class is too slow for her. She seems to be well above average ability and quite capable of studying on her own, and may have failed the class first time because of boredom.
I would set her some extension work to do during class, with a view to entering for the examination early or entering at a higher level.
I would compliment her grasp of the material during class. This acknowledges the effort she has made and lets other students know that her answers are reliable.
I remember a situation where this happened in class. The teacher put down the interrupting student in class for everyone, rather angrily. He told the student something along the lines of "Sure, you might pass the class without problems, but that doesn't mean everyone here will".
I think a more charismatic, friendly approach could work, even if you do it publicly in class. Let's take a very structured nonviolent communication approach: 1) Observation: Hey , i can't help but notice you keep answering questions i pose to other people. 2) Feelings: I understand this feels like you are showing commitment, but to others, including myself, it can come across as disruptive 3) Needs: Other students need to be allowed to take the time to process questions, because that is a vital part of their learning process. If one person answers everything, this doesn't benefit the course. 4) Request: So while I appreciate your active participation in class, can you please try and tone it down a little when I ask questions to other people?
If you feel like this type of issues is something you have difficulty with in your class, I recommend trying to find a NVC course in your neighbourhood.
I have been a teacher in university, so I completely understand what you are saying. And I have also been the average student annoyed by "that kid" who is always showing off and answering everybody else's questions to the teacher. I would have loved if someone made that kid shut up. So please, do something about it, not only for you sake, but also for the happiness of everyone in your class. One way to approach this is talk to the student privately and ask her/him to, instead of talking, first raising her/his hand and ask: "Professor, may I answer this?". So each time you can make the decision.
Recruit them as extraofficial help. Task them with answering questions in the online fora (official or non-official). Talk to them and work out some etiquette on answering questions in class: give others time to think the problem through, let others answer first, in general, be polite to co-students.
There are a few things that one can do live, in the classroom setting, to mollify this situation; these are things that I do with success.
One is that in certain situations where it is natural to do so, you can direct your question, and your attention, to a specific student. Your eager student may want to jump in, but when your attention (i.e. your line of sight) is directed to a specific student, it may be more obvious to the eager student that they should hold back. If this is too subtle for the eager student to perceive, you can also be ready to glance at them and, with a friendly expression, make a little hand gesture requesting that they hold back for a bit. As this scenario progresses, it may well happen that no-one else can come up with an answer, and then you can redirect the question towards your eager student.
Another issue here is that directing questions to specific students can be done in a way which makes it really obvious that THAT student has the floor. For example, perhaps you first say to the students "Which problems on the homework assignment do you want to hear about?" And after Joe Schlobotnick says "problem number 1 please", during the discussion of problem number 1 you can direct your questions to Joe: "What would happen in this step if you tried that?" Your eager student might still try to jump in, so you might want to be prepared with the "glance-smile-hand gesture" strategy.
Ask them/ tell them to sit at the back of the room.
It's always more effective to change the situational dynamics rather than to try to change the person. Some people will automatically try to join a conversation if they are in the middle of it. When out of the line of sight, they are less likely to interrupt.
It doesn't always work. But telling people to be silent doesn't always work either: this is an alternative strategy.