DL & Group Work: How to Address Problematic Student Behaviors

Concurrent Session 3

Brief Abstract

The mention of group work in DL environments can evoke feelings of resistance in students and educators alike. The presenter will explore the differences between normal anxiety and more persistent behavior concerns and how-to manage both.  Unpack a tool box of behavior management skills, best practices, sample rubrics to measure professional behaviors, and more. Leave with strong skills that foster professional growth for all students.


Dr. Kozlowski earned her undergraduate BS degree from Montana State University. She earned her MS in Counseling and Development from Texas Woman’s University and her PhD from Texas A&M University, Commerce. Dr. Kozlowski began her career as a counselor educator as an adjunct instructor for one year at both Texas A&M University- Commerce, and Tarleton University. In addition she was a tenured faculty member for four years at BGSU prior to joining the core faculty at Walden. While at BGSU she served as a course designer, program director and recruitment and retention coordinator. She has taught courses online, face to face, and hybrid courses in play therapy, group counseling, internship, practicum, statistics, research methods, school counseling, theories, implementing school counseling programs, crisis, leadership, and diversity. Dr. Kozlowski has been designing flipped classrooms for the past six years. She specializes in using web tools to create active learning environments both online and face to face. Her research agenda focuses on using technology in teaching practices. She has published numerous articles on the topics of technology in education, training faculty to use technology, and technology based counseling. In addition she has presented trainings and workshops at the local, state, national and international level on these same topics. Licensed as a school counselor and professional counselor in both Ohio and Texas, Dr. Kozlowski is fully committed to leadership in the counseling profession. She has served as the Treasurer for North Central Association for Counselor Education & Supervision; the President of Northwest Ohio Counseling Association; President of the Ohio Association of Group Workers; Co-Chair of the Ohio Counseling Association’s Professional Identity and Ethics Committee; and on the editorial board for the Journal of Counseling Practice. Further, Dr. Kozlowski has received a number of awards, including the following: both a Presidential Fellow and Emerging Leader Fellow for the Association of Counselor Education & Supervision; Counselor Educator of the Year from the Ohio School Counselor Association; Counselor Educator Fellow for the American School Counselor Association; and Emerging Scholar from the Association of Specialists in Group Work, Texas School Counselor of the Year, ACA’s Ross Trust recipient, CSI fellow; North West Ohio Supervisor of the Year; Bayard Friedman Community Hero Award in recognition of her research in online group counseling and others. Currently she is organizing the RMACES conference.

Extended Abstract

Learning objectives

1. Participants will be able to normalize and manage initial student resistance to group projects in DL environments and identify the more problematic professional disposition concerns that may emerge, as well as explore their own resistance to utilizing group work in DL environments.

2. Participants will explore how to utilize gate keeping skills to address concerning behaviors that emerge from collaborative group work expectations in DL environments to help all students gain self awareness, insights that lead to growth as professional counselors.

3.Participants will learn strategies to implement early in the course to clarify expectations, address student anxiety, as well as how to utilize gate keeping skills to address persistent professional disposition behaviors that emerge when collaborating with other students to complete group projectsThe number of distance learning or online programs continues to rise. The integration of technology into instructional design may complicate some educator functions such as managing student behaviors.  Distance learning formats may make it more difficult for educators to identify problems with professional competence and increase challenges to addressing the problems once they are identified.

Behavior concerns and remediation are critical functions of educators in both face to face and online environments.  In their roles as educator, instructors are tasked with evaluating students in terms of professional competence and intervening when difficult behaviors arise (Brown-Rice & Furr).  Foster and McAdams (2009) defined gatekeeping as the responsibility of all educators, to intervene with students who engage in inappropriate behaviors.  Problems behaviors include inadequate skill development, inadequate ethical decision-making competency, and lack of appropriate personal functioning including the development of empathy and awareness of impact on others (Vacha-Haase Davenport, & Kerewsky, 2004). Unfortunately, data show that gatekeeping functions are met with roadblocks and challenges, even when educators are trained in this role (Brown-Rice & Furr, 2016).  Such challenges include emotional struggles on behalf of the educator, worries around the perception of cultural competence, fear of allegations of discrimination or recrimination after a gatekeeping function was executed (Brown-Rice & Furr, 2016).

The goals of this presentation are to begin a conversation around the performance of gatekeeping and remediation functions in distance learning/online education courses and programs.  The presenters will provide an overview of the gatekeeping functions and professional expectations, discuss how distance/online learning may complicate these roles, and offer suggestions that may assist counselor educators who teach in a distance learning format.

The presentation will be built around the presenters and participants own experiences to personally connect content to learning.  Presenters will share real life blunders and solutions throughout. In addition, participant’s own resistance will be explored. A tool box of best practices from the field of higher education, sample rubric to quantify professional behavior, how to frame expectations that empower students and more will be shared. Finally, presenters will move participants from resisting to embracing the role of gate keeper in DL environments.


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