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Asia Pacic Educ. Rev. (2013) 14:371380 DOI 10.


Malaysian primary pre-service teachers perceptions of students disruptive behaviour

Norzila Zakaria Andrea Reupert Umesh Sharma

Received: 5 November 2012 / Revised: 19 May 2013 / Accepted: 11 June 2013 / Published online: 20 June 2013 Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2013

Abstract The purpose of this paper was to investigate Malaysian primary pre-service teachers perceptions of students disruptive behaviour and their self-reported strategies to prevent and to manage such behaviours. Results indicate that Malaysian pre-service teachers understand disruptive behaviours to be those that disrupt the learning and teaching process. They identied the cause of student disruptive behaviour as factors residing within the individual student. Pre-service teachers here reported preventative strategies in terms of changing teaching strategies and threats to use punishment. When addressing students disruptive behaviour, pre-service teachers reported that they would use one-to-one counselling with students and remove tokens or hold back rewards. A discussion regarding the implications for teacher education institutions and future research concludes this paper. Keywords Behaviour management Classroom management Pre-service teachers Malaysia

academic progress and wellbeing. In this article, we dene classroom management as teacher actions that contribute to effective teaching and learning environments (Walker and Shea 1991). While most studies in this area were conducted in Western countries (Giallo and Little 2003; Kaufman and Moss 2010; Kyriacou et al. 2007; Moore 2003; Putman 2009; Reupert and Woodcock 2011; Stephens et al. 2005; Stoughton 2007; Tulley and Chiu 1995), the present study sought the views of Malaysian pre-service primary teachers. Such information may inform teacher education institutions and beginning teacher programmes in Malaysia. Additionally, exploring the attitudes of Malaysian pre-service teachers potentially provides cultural understandings about the way in which classroom management strategies might be valued or promoted in an Asian country.

International perspectives on classroom management Classroom management is an important issue for many teachers in Australia (Little et al. 2000; Reupert and Dalgarno 2011), the USA (August et al. 1996), Pakistan (Syed et al. 2007) and India (Srinath et al. 2005). At the same time, many pre-service teachers report feeling inadequately prepared in classroom management. For example, a study in the USA found that 80 % of pre-service teachers were unsure which strategies to use in classrooms with students with special needs (Moore 2003). Again in the USA, Smart and Igo (2010) found that novice teachers reported being relatively more condent to manage students considered to have mild behaviour problems but not at all condent in managing students displaying aggression, deance and deviant behaviour. In Australia, graduate and pre-service primary teachers indicated being only moderately prepared in classroom management, with over 80 % indicating they

Introduction Classroom management is an essential skill for teachers to acquire, for teachers own well-being and for students

N. Zakaria A. Reupert (&) U. Sharma Faculty of Education, Krongold Centre, Monash University, Wellington Road, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia e-mail: N. Zakaria e-mail: U. Sharma e-mail:



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required additional training in this area (Giallo and Little 2003).

Pre-service teachers and behaviour management Other studies have identied the specic classroom management strategies that pre-service teachers report employing. Atici (2007) interviewed nine pre-service teachers in Turkey, who described using nonverbal messages, such as eye contact, physical proximity and warnings to manage classroom behaviour. From a sample of just over 300 Australian and Canadian primary pre-service teachers, Reupert and Woodcock (2011) found a preference for corrective or reactive strategies such as nonverbal body language and saying the students name as a warning, as opposed to strategies that serve to prevent classroom behaviour problems from occurring. When the two cohorts were compared, they found that Australian preservice teachers employed rewards more often than Canadian pre-service teachers. The authors speculated that this difference might be due to broader contextual factors inherent in the two school systems in Australia and Canada. In another international study about pre-service teachers perception of disruptive behaviour, Stephens et al. (2005) compared the responses of 100 English and 86 Norwegian secondary pre-service teachers and found that the Norwegian cohort was generally more tolerant of student misbehaviour. At the same time, both cohorts regarded aggressive, delinquent and anti-social student behaviour as unacceptable. In another study of the same cohorts, both English and Norwegian pre-service teachers indicated that students were disruptive because of family factors, in particular because parents did not instil proschool values in their children (Kyriacou et al. 2007). The two cohorts also reported that the most frequently encountered behaviour problem was students talking out of turn and the most frequently employed strategy to manage this behaviour was to establish rules. In a similar study that explored classroom management strategies in relation to context, Lewis and colleagues (Lewis et al. 2005) studied teachers in China, Israel and Australia, and found that Chinese teachers were more inclusive and supportive of student voices and were less punitive and aggressive, than teachers in Israel and Australia.

The Malaysian education system Of particular relevance to the present study is that the Malaysian education system endorses inclusive education, which encapsulates the full participation of students with disabilities into mainstream settings (UNESCO 1994).

However, there are several barriers to inclusive practice in Malaysia, primarily around the lack of teacher preparedness to teach students with diverse needs (Jelas 2010). A subject around special education is not compulsory in Malaysian teacher education programmes (Jelas 2010). Accordingly, Malaysian teachers reported that the training required for teaching students with diverse needs was inadequate, particularly when dealing with students with challenging behaviours (Bosi 2004; Jantan 2010; Jelas 2010; Lee 2004). As well as in-service teachers, Malaysian pre-service teachers have identied problems addressing classroom management issues (Faizah 2008; Goh and Matthews 2011; Rahman et al. 2011). For example, in a study of 150 Malaysian secondary pre-service teachers, Rahman et al. (2011) found that managing students behaviour was among the main challenges they faced. Similarly, the most pressing concern for Malaysian pre-service teachers, as ascertained from fourteen secondary pre-service teachers reective journals, was managing students behaviour (Goh and Matthews 2011). Another Malaysian study also employed a reective journal, written by one secondary pre-service teacher who was undertaking her teaching practicum in a large class of students with mixed abilities (Faizah 2008). The teacher documents her struggles with students disruptive behaviour and her resorting to yelling at students. Thus, the limited research conducted in Malaysian settings demonstrates that pre-service teachers feel inadequately trained in classroom management (Faizah 2008; Goh and Matthews 2011; Rahman et al. 2011); what we are not able to ascertain are the specic strategies they might employ and the subsequent strengths and gaps in their skill base. With some exceptions as highlighted above (Faizah 2008; Goh and Matthews 2011; Rahman et al. 2011), most studies investigating pre-service perceptions on classroom management are located in Western countries (such as Australia, Canada, Norway, England and the USA). Identifying those classroom management strategies that Malaysian pre-service teachers employ, and those they do not, can inform the development of courses at Malaysian teacher education institutions. Moreover, research examining pre-service teachers perceptions about classroom management from within an Asian context may also shed light on the role of factors that are context specic (for example, based on culture and/or teacher education institutions), with implications for researchers, teacher educators and policy makers. Notwithstanding the importance of ongoing professional development for teachers and the experiences they obtain once in the classroom, one critical period for the acquisition of classroom management skills is during teacher education (Emmer and Stough 2001; Reupert and Woodcock 2010; Sharma et al. 2013;


Students disruptive behaviour


Woodcock and Reupert 2012). Thus, this study will focus on Malaysian pre-service teachers.

Research aims This study aims to explore nal-year Malaysian primary pre-service teachers perceptions regarding classroom management. More specically, the study will investigate: How do Malaysian primary pre-service teachers describe students disruptive classroom behaviour? What do Malaysian pre-service teachers regard as being the cause of students disruptive behaviour? How do Malaysian primary pre-service teachers prevent disruptive behaviour in the classroom? How do Malaysian primary pre-service teachers manage disruptive behaviour in the classroom?

Methodology A qualitative approach to data collection, analysis and interpretation was employed as a means of tapping into pre-service teachers perceptions of classroom management. Within this framework, participants were invited to identify instances of disruptive behaviour, what they saw as being the cause of these disruptive behaviours and indicate how they might prevent and manage such behaviours. An open-ended questionnaire was constructed, based on the literature review and the research questions.

classroom settings. Classroom management is a skill, among several others, that is assessed during the practicum by their supervising teachers. More generally, in Malaysia there are three major cultural groups, namely Malay, Chinese and Indian. Children go to either national primary schools (where everyone might attend) or national-type schools (where a specic cultural group mostly attends). National primary schools (Sekolah Kebangsaan) provides Bahasa Malaysia as the main medium of instruction, while national schools, which include Chinese national-type schools (Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina) and Tamil national-type schools (Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil), employ Chinese or the Tamil language as the main language of instruction. Hofstede (2001) describes Malaysia as an Alpha culture, where inequalities are both acknowledged and required across the three major ethnicities. In such a context, those in a more subordinate position wait for direction, while supervisors or those in charge expect to receive obedience and to be the decision-makers. This means that at home, parents expect children to obey rules, while in schools, teachers exercise full initiative and communicate their knowledge and wisdom (Talib 2010, p. 29).

Participants From 100 primary pre-service teachers enrolled in a 4-year teacher education programme at teacher training centre in Malaysia, 94 questionnaires were obtained, resulting in 90 completed questionnaires. Pre-service teachers were in their nal year and had completed their nal practicum. Most participants were Malays, and all listed Islam as their religion (see Table 1 for participant demographics). It should also be noted that most participants (91 %) report having prior experience teaching students with disruptive behaviour, with 30 % of those surveyed indicating that their level of success when teaching such students was either good or very good.

Context of the study The study is situated within a primary teacher training centre in Malaysia. At this centre, pre-service teachers undertake a compulsory, second-year subject related to behaviour and classroom management. The subject covers information regarding models of classroom management and the issues involved in working with students with diverse needs, particularly those who have learning difculties. In addition, they also undertake the Guidance and Counselling for Children subject. This subject emphasizes the role of teachers as mentors to students and aims to ensure teachers are able to provide basic counselling for students. Both subjects run for 45 contact hours and are taught over 15 weeks. Additionally, over the course, preservice teachers participate in several school practicums, starting in year 3 (twice) and another one in year 4. The duration of each practicum is 4, 8 and 12 weeks, respectively. The practicum provides opportunities for pre-service teachers to apply their knowledge and skill to

Questionnaire In order to collect data from participants, a questionnaire was designed. Several demographic items were included related to participants age, gender, race, religion and qualications. Additional questions were framed around participants prior experience of teaching students with disruptive behaviour and their reported level of condence and success when teaching such students, in order to ascertain whether these factors might impact on responses. Following these, the questionnaire included the subsequent items:


374 Table 1 Participants demographic prole Demographic Age \25 years Gender Male Female Race Malay Chinese Indian Religion Islam Hindu Buddhist Highest qualication obtained Master Degree Diploma High school Prior experience in teaching students with disruptive behaviour Yes No Reported level of success when teaching students with disruptive behaviour Minimum Moderate Good Very good Condence when teaching students with disruptive behaviour Low Average High 0 (0 %) 48 (53.3 %) 42 (46.7 %) 8 (8.9 %) 47 (52.2 %) 25 (27.8 %) 2 (2.2 %) 82 (91.1 %) 8 (8.9 %) 21 (23.3 %) 31 (34.4 %) 1 (1.1 %) 37 (41.1 %) 88 (97.8 %) 1 (1.1 %) 1 (1.1 %) 88 (97.8 %) 1 (1.1 %) 1 (1.1 %) 54 (60 %) 36 (40 %) 90 (100 %) Frequencies N (%)

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Malay. The questionnaire was then given to a panel consisting of two child psychiatrists, a clinical psychologist and a teacher from Malaysia to obtain feedback on clarity and to ensure that the translated questions matched the research aims. Questions were revised based on their feedback to produce the nal questionnaire employed here.

Procedure With the lecturers permission, questionnaires were distributed during class time and, when completed, participants were invited to return the questionnaire at a box placed at the back of the lecture hall.

Data analysis Once again, the rst author translated Malaysian responses to English, conceptually rather than literally. Participant responses to each of items were analysed using a qualitative approach. Thematic content analysis was conducted, which is a systematic means of describing and analysing phenomena, and is considered to be a useful process for the exploratory phase of broader research tasks (Anfara et al. 2002). In this process, the rst author read participants responses for each item and developed labels based on these responses that were then conceptualized into a theme. For example, in response to the question Why do you think children are disruptive in the classroom? some participants wrote, a students lack of respect, students emotional and other health problems and students wanting attention; these were grouped under the theme student factors. Sometimes the label itself became the theme, for example, in response to the question List three things you would do to prevent disruptive behaviour some wrote change teaching strategies and others wrote increase attractive learning strategies. The nal theme here was change teaching strategies. After the rst author identied themes, across participant responses, she met with the second author (native English speaker) to further clarify and elaborate an identied theme, in English. After themes were identied, responses were counted, to show the frequency counts presented here. Frequencies in relation to gender were also determined. Given the small sample size in some of the demographic groups, further analysis of the data based on participant demographics was not conducted.


How do you dene students disruptive behaviour in the classroom? a. Provide three examples of behaviour that you consider to be disruptive.

2. 3. 4.

Why do you think children are disruptive in the classroom? List three things you would do to prevent disruptive behaviour in the classroom. List three strategies you would do to respond to disruptive behaviour in the classroom.

Results The results are presented according to the four research questions of this project.

The rst author, who is Malay, translated the questionnaire, conceptually rather than literally, from English into


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375 Table 4 Reason for students disruptive behaviour Why students misbehave Student factors Family and parenting issues Teacher related factors Media Total No. 74 48 40 1 163 Male 39 26 25 0 90 Female 35 22 15 1 73

Pre-service teachers denition of disruptive behaviour Participants responses to the question How do you dene disruptive behaviour? primarily centred on those student behaviours that interrupted the teaching and learning process, and those behaviours that disturbed others (see Table 2). Four participants described disruptive behaviour as any unpleasant behaviour and given the nebulous nature of this response (in Malaysian and English), these responses were removed. When invited to provide examples of disruptive behaviour, participants described various behaviours that were grouped under the following themes: making a noise, disturbing peers and not doing school work (see Table 3). The making a noise theme included responses such as talking to peers, singing and shouting. Many participants provided the response disturbing peers, so this was grouped as a theme. The not doing school work theme included responses such not handing in assignments, being uncooperative and not giving attention. It is acknowledged that many of these themes overlap. Causes of students disruptive behaviour In response to the question regarding why students might be disruptive, most participants attributed disruptive
Table 2 Dening disruptive behaviour Themes Interrupt teaching and learning Disturbing others Disturbing teachers Total No. 62 23 1 86 Male 29 16 0 45 Female 33 7 1 41

behaviour to student-centred factors, which included responses such as a students lack of respect, students emotional and other health problems and students wanting attention (see Table 4). The second most frequent response pertains to family and parenting factors, such as a lack of discipline at home and the child is too pampered by parents. A sizable minority reported that teacher factors contributed to student disruptive behaviour with representative responses including unattractive teaching and learning activities and teacher provides less attention to these students. One participant indicated that the media was responsible for students disruptive behaviour. Strategies to prevent students disruptive behaviour When asked to identify the ways they might prevent disruptive behaviour in their classroom, a total of 255 responses were provided (see Table 5). The most frequently reported theme was to change teaching strategies; this theme included strategies such as increase attractive learning activities and use better teaching aids. Another theme labelled threaten or warn students included responses such as warn students about time out and threaten students with the cane. Another group of responses was labelled reinforcements with responses involving a token- or merit-based system. Another significant group of responses was categorized as instil good values in students, which encompassed the provision of moral, ethical and/or religious education to students. Strategies to manage students disruptive behaviour Finally, participants were invited to identify ways in which they would respond to students disruptive behaviour in the classroom. Responses were identied under the category of provide counselling, which included reports that they would counsel the student, advise the student and give the student a motivational talk. Another category involved holding back rewards or withdrawing tokens for disruptive behaviour. Being positive with students included giving the student more attention, communicate with the student more, get to know the student more and give

Table 3 Examples of disruptive behaviour Disruptive behaviours Making a noise Disturbing peers Not doing schoolwork Moving around Aggression/ghting Disrespectful attitude to teacher Interrupting the teacher Destroying things Nonattendance Bullying Spitting Sleeping Total No. 71 52 22 16 13 12 9 5 5 4 2 6 216 Male 46 38 12 15 4 7 5 3 5 2 1 3 141 Female 25 14 10 1 9 5 4 2 0 2 1 3 75

Note that the frequency count here is greater than the sample size, as participants were asked to provide three examples


376 Table 5 Preventing disruptive behaviour Preventative strategies Change teaching strategies Threat/warn about punishment Reinforcements Enforce rules Being positive with students Provide counselling Seating rearrangement Instil good values Constant monitoring Referral to counsellor Report to parents Total responses No. 60 51 45 31 12 25 11 7 3 6 4 255 Male 29 33 25 22 10 18 6 2 3 6 3 157 Female 31 18 20 9 2 7 5 5 0 0 1 98

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Table 6 Responding to disruptive behaviour Responding to disruptive behaviour Provide counselling Tokens are removed or rewards are held back Being positive with student Change teaching strategies Make changes to the seating arrangement Specic individual behaviour strategies Punish (unspecied) Discuss with parents Enforce rules Monitor behaviour Total No. 47 29 29 23 14 12 11 10 5 5 185 Male 40 10 25 14 9 3 8 9 3 2 123 Female 7 19 4 9 5 9 3 1 2 3 62

encouragement. Participants also described changing teaching strategies when dealing with disruptive students, for example create attractive activities, involve students in all activities and use teaching aids (Table 6).

Discussion This study explored nal-year Malaysian primary pre-service teachers perceptions regarding students disruptive behaviour and the classroom management strategies they report employing. Malaysian primary pre-service teachers described disruptive behaviour in terms of hindering the

teaching and learning process, with specic examples including students making a noise and disturbing peers, as well as students not doing their school work. Predominately, pre-service teachers indicated that children are disruptive because of factors related to students, though there was some acknowledgement that behaviour was also the result of family and/or teaching factors. The strategies that pre-service teachers would utilize to prevent disruptive behaviour were to change teaching strategies, threaten students with punishment (such as a caning) and reinforce positive behaviour. On the other hand, the strategies participants indicate they would employ to respond to student disruptive behaviour were to counsel or advise the individual student, to withdraw tokens and generally be positive with a student. Similar to the ndings of this study, Atici (2007) found Turkish pre-service teachers described students disruptive behaviour in terms of students disturbing the lesson and hindering their peers. In Australia, Arbuckle and Little (2004) found that early childhood, primary and secondary teachers also described disruptive behaviour in terms of interrupting the learning of others. Thus, it might be said that for many pre-service teachers, student disruption is closely related to hindering the teaching and learning process, as opposed to major violent behaviour, or in terms of problematic interpersonal relationships between students, such as bullying. Additionally, according to the Malaysian pre-service teachers surveyed here, students misbehave primarily because of student-centred factors or because of a students own emotional issues. The second most frequently reported reason for student disruption, identied by those surveyed here, was related to family and parenting factors, while the nal reasons related to teaching practices. In comparison, pre-service teachers in Turkey (Atici 2007), Norway and England (Kyriacou et al. 2007) regard family background as the primary reason for student misbehaviour, as opposed to teacher and/or student factors. This difference of attribution might be linked to the diverse training and practicum experiences across the UK, Norway and Malaysia and the ways in which behaviour management is taught. Additionally, or instead, the difference might be the result of the authoritarian culture prevailing in Malaysia in which there are clear authority gures that, for many, must be obeyed (Kesharavarz and Baharudin 2009). Accordingly, disobedience might well be the fault of the student, rather than the type of upbringing he or she has experienced or the tasks the teacher has asked the student to do. Nonetheless, that many Malaysia pre-service teachers in this study attribute disruptive behaviour to students, as opposed to teaching or family factors, has implications for their motivation to address behaviour issues in the classroom. McCready and


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Soloway (2010) argue that that student misbehaviour is adaptive and a result of interactions between students, teachers and environment. Accordingly, preventative and reactive behavioural strategies need to be based on the reasons students misbehave or disrupt the teaching and learning process (Reupert and Woodcock 2011). Interestingly, even though Malaysian pre-service teachers primarily attributed disruptive behaviour to student-centred factors, the most commonly reported preventative strategy (namely, to change teaching strategies) targeted the teachers own behaviour. Such a stance demonstrates awareness that it is their responsibility to engage students with appropriate academic tasks, in direct contrast to their view that student misbehaviour is the result of factors pertaining to the student. Teachers are held in high esteem in the Malay community, typied by their title, Cikgu (teacher), which they retain after retirement. It could be that teachers high status means that they blame the student for any disruptive behaviour while at the same time taking responsibility for ensuring that behavioural issues are prevented. Follow-up interviews are required to further clarify such a result. Even though the rst preventative strategy identied in this study was to change teaching strategies, pre-service teachers here also reported warning or threatening students with punishment, for example letting students know that they could be caned or sent to time out. The third preventative strategy was to provide some form of reinforcement or reward for positive behaviour. Warning students and the use of rewards are both indicative of a teachercentred classroom, in which the teacher is responsible and in control, cognizant with an authoritarian approach to teaching and learning. In terms of responding to students disruptive behaviour, Malaysian pre-service teachers indicate that they would primarily talk to students individually, to advise, counsel, or have a motivational talk about how they should behave in the classroom. The next response was to employ a reinforcement system, but by taking tokens away and nally by being more positive with students. So, while preservice teachers here report preventing behavioural disruptions by changing teaching strategies and warning students with the cane, when students are actually disruptive they would prefer to talk with the student one to one and be positive, by building a relationship with the targeted student and getting to know him or her better. In other words, the pre-service teachers here are full of bark but have no bite, namely threaten with the cane but they dont actually follow through (even though they do describe removing tokens for student misbehaviour). It should be noted though that only specialist teachers in Malaysia are actually permitted to cane students, so pre-service teachers are not in a position to actually follow through on this threat. In this

study, we found that pre-service teachers advocate building a relationship and being positive, though some also (or instead) reported removing tokens or holding back rewards as a corrective classroom management strategy. The comparatively softer approach advocated by Malaysian pre-service teachers may have been acquired while completing the compulsory subject Guidance and Counselling for Children, which emphasizes the role of teachers as mentors. Therefore, counselling might be considered a legitimate way of addressing behavioural issues in the classroom. However, Talib (2009) highlighted the heavy teaching workload of many Malaysian teachers coupled with other time-consuming administrative demands. Thus, given time constraints, the provision of counselling as the primary corrective management strategy is problematic, especially when there are other strategies, such as selective ignoring and signalling that are potentially more effective in addressing the immediate and low-level types of disruptive behaviour described here (see, for example, Rogers 2007). The preference for one-to-one discussions with students, rather than the fore-mentioned other corrective strategies highlights a potential professional learning issue for the Malaysian pre-service teachers surveyed in this study. Talib (2010) points out that Malaysians value harmony, where most prefer compromise to confrontation. It might be said that for the Malaysian pre-service teachers surveyed, a students disruptive behaviour needs to be handled as courteously as possible, such as via one-to-one discussions or counselling. Similarly, the Alpha cultural context of Malaysia means that not only do supervisors (and so, one would assume, teachers) expect to be obeyed, but those very supervisors are obliged to provide patronage. The supervisor must protect and guide the subordinates (Ansari et al. 2004, p. 115). This paternalistic form of authoritarianism, coupled with their reluctance to confront, might explain Malaysian pre-service teachers preference for providing one-to-one discussions with students, rather than comparatively more direct corrective strategies. As well as providing counselling and advice to students, other reactive or corrective strategies reported by Malaysian pre-service teachers include removing tokens or holding back rewards, becoming more positive with students (encouraging, providing more attention) and changing teaching strategies. It needs to be noted that the latter two of these strategies are normally considered to be strategies employed to minimize or prevent problems from occurring in the rst place rather than to correct behaviours after they have occurred. As reported earlier, Rogers (2007) advocates a range of strategies to address immediate, low-level disruptive behaviour, which serve to minimize disruption to learning and the potential for the behaviour to escalate. From this study, there is no indication that pre-service teachers are employing such strategies.



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Overall, in the present study, the rst preference among Malaysian pre-service teachers to prevent behavioural issues from occurring was to change teaching strategies, while their second preference was to threaten students with the cane or time out. At the same time, they indicate that in response to students disruptive behaviour, they would not necessarily follow through with these threats but would instead engage in counselling students, remove tokens and be more positive with students. The use of the cane (even if to threaten students) is of interest. According to Busienei (2012), the use of corporal punishment, such as the cane, has ancient historical and religious roots, though he contends that its modern-day practice violates the rights of the child (according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child). Kiprop and Chepkilot (2011) point out that corporal punishment is not only ineffective as a discipline strategy, but can trigger students unrest and make their behaviour worse. Further investigation as to how corporal punishment is regulated, sanctioned and understood in the Malaysian educational system is required. It is interesting to note that 91 % of participants claim prior experience in dealing with disruptive behaviour and over 80 % of participants report having moderate or better success at managing behaviour, especially given that some of the strategies identied in this study are not necessarily supported in the literature as evidence based. For example, while threatening students with the cane was a strategy identied by some to prevent behavioural disturbances, we would strongly dissuade its use. Teacher educators might need to spend some time with pre-service teachers discussing what is meant by an effective classroom management strategy, in conjunction with a close reading and discussion of the relevant research literature. Even though pre-service teachers might perceive an action as being effective, ongoing discussions about what this means for students and the teaching and learning process might be required. This study has several other important implications for Malaysian teacher education institutions as well as Malaysian schools working with beginning teachers. Research conducted, albeit predominately in schools located in Western countries, clearly demonstrates the value of proactive behavioural strategies and plans, which serve to prevent or lessen the likelihood of disruptive behaviour, as opposed to reactive strategies, that are delivered as a consequence of a students disruptive behaviour. As Clunies-Ross et al. (2008) point out, reactive strategies are primarily remedial in nature. A substantial body of literature supports the use of preventative strategies, such as providing praise and an engaging curriculum and pedagogy (for selective examples, see Burden 2003; Charles and Senter 2008). Similarly, it has been argued that when teachers employ positive, preventative strategies,

students disruptive behaviours will be eliminated or minimized (De Jong 2005; Simonsen et al. 2008; Tulley and Chiu 1995). Houghton et al. (1990) noted that student ontask behaviour increased when teachers employ preventative strategies, as opposed to when teachers use private reprimands of disapproval. Thus, the importance of positive and proactive strategies as a means of preventing behavioural issues needs to be stressed to pre-service and beginning teachers. Many of the behaviours described by the pre-service teachers in this study might be aligned to teacher-centred, as opposed to student-centred, teaching and learning practices. For example, pre-service teachers here reported a preference for employing reinforcements and threatening students with a cane or time out, strategies that might be considered to be teacher-centred, as opposed to student-centred, approaches. The research on the efcacy of student- versus teacher-centred classrooms is less than clear; our reading of the literature would indicate that views on this topic tend to be based on philosophical ideology, as opposed to evidencebased research. Malaysia has a long history of authoritarianism, where an authority gure such as a teacher is respected and obeyed and thus appears to be closely aligned to the teacher-centred approach described here. Accordingly, without disrespecting or disregarding these values, pre-service teachers need to learn the importance of a positive approach to classroom management, which incorporates both proactive strategies as well as reactive strategies. Given the strong emphasis on teacher control, Canters Assertive Discipline model (Canter and Canter 2001) might be one approach that could be usefully applied in this Malaysian teacher education institution, with adaptations made for local contextual issues. This model might serve to provide an alternative to the one-to-one counselling approach, indicated by many here, to deal with students disruptive behaviour but at the same time still incorporate a proactive approach within a teacher-centred framework. At the same time, however, it is important to note that we are not necessarily justifying or advocating a teacher-orientated approach to classroom management for Malaysian preservice teachers. Indeed, we are strongly advocating for a positive, proactive approach to working with students, employed within evidence-based framework, but, at the same time, an approach that is sensitive to the cultural milieu of those involved. Developing an evidence base for classroom management in different cultural settings is an obvious area for future research. There are limitations to this study, which future research might consider. As the study was implemented in one teacher preparation institution, future research might be conducted in other institutions in Malaysia. In addition, the open-ended nature of the questionnaire, which was useful to generate themes at a broad level, requires follow-up


Students disruptive behaviour

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interviews to further clarify and extend the results found here. Similarly, some of the questionnaire responses were difcult to dene and require further investigation. Given the reliance on self-report used in this study, future studies might incorporate classroom observations. Further research is also required to ascertain those models of discipline that might be effectively adapted for Asian contexts. This study adds to the literature on Malaysian pre-service teachers experience and perceptions on students disruptive behaviour. In summary, the present study demonstrated that Malaysian pre-service teachers primarily attributed the cause of student disruptive behaviour to student-centred factors, but at the same time owned some responsibility for preventing behavioural issues from occurring by indicating that they would change teaching strategies. Another strategy to prevent behavioural issues from occurring was to threaten students with time out or the cane. Conversely, when responding to students misbehaviour, pre-service teachers indicated that they would work closely with students on an individual basis and remove tokens. The stance being advocated by the preservice teachers here might be aligned to a teacher-centred approach, in which the teacher makes decisions about discipline, pedagogy and relationships. Future training in classroom management might well need to be respectful of such a stance, in the acknowledgement of both proactive and reactive elements of classroom management plans and the cultural context in which such training occurs.

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