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102082 Pedagogies for Positive Learning Environments

Assignment 1

Literature Review

Misbehaviour in the classroom is an issue that teachers face everyday and can
have a dramatic affect on overall teaching and learning. Succinct research
suggests that student behaviour can be administered through teachers and
classroom management. Skinner (1992) states that teachers have an influence
on student behaviour through the use of positive and negative reinforcement.
This behaviour can be administered through rewarding positive behaviour and
condemning negative behaviour in the classroom (Skinner, 1992). McGrath &
Van Bergen (2015), emphasise the importance of student-teacher relationships
and the effect that the relationship can have on student learning. Students that
have a positive relationship with their teachers will find it harder to misbehave
in their class and will more likely abide by the classroom rules. On the other
hand, those that have a negative student-teacher relationship will fall short of
discipline in the classroom (McGrath & Van Bergen, 2015). McGrath & Van
Bergen (2015), accentuate that misbehavior is not only at the expense of
teachers and peers, but also puts the student that has a negative relationship
with the teacher at risk.

Skinner (1992) declares that the education system encompasses two main
functions; to encourage interest in instruction for students along side teaching a
variety of verbal and non-verbal behaviours. Conversely, classroom disruptions
can potentially be eliminated through providing extra support for students when
they require help with class content (Oliver, 2011). Similarly, Head (2008)
accentuates that the teacher has the ability to learn, respect and appreciate every
student and their uniqueness in personality along side their academic abilities.
The teacher is responsible in providing diverse students with resources through
a pedagogical approach that can support the range of abilities, and thus result in
a sustained and behaved classroom (Head, 2008). According to Jennings &
Greenberg (2009), misbehavior in some circumstances is due to the student
experiencing difficulties in social, emotional and behavioural issues. These issues
can come from home environments or even issues that arise in the school
playground; nonetheless they have the ability to directly affect their classroom
behaviour (Jennings & Greenberg, 2009).

Methods & Findings

In order to relate the attitudes and beliefs that different people hold in regards to
student misbehaviour, an interview process was organised. There were six
participants that took part in a casual conversation based interview, to
understand the similarities and differences in their opinions on this topic. Each
interviewee was provided with a consent form, which they signed and were
informed about their confidentiality. The interviewees included Person A, who is
a 28 year old professional athlete with no experience in teaching or parenting,
Person B, is a 60 year old parent with 5 children in private schools, Person C & D,
are both in their mid 20’s and are pre-service teachers in their 2nd semester,
Person E, is a 21 year old accountant with no experience in teaching or parenting
and Person F, is a 28 year old experienced secondary educator at a private
school. The interviewees comprised of 2 males and 4 females. The difference in
participants were decided upon to compare the opinions between people that
have experience in a school enviornment (teachers), people who are being
taught about young people in the classroom (pre-service teachers), those that
experience misbehaviour of young people in a different environment (parents)
and those that have no association with teaching or parenting (non-teaching

When each interviewee was asked, “In your opinion, why do young people
misbehave at school”, all six participants posed great similarity in their answers.
Person A, began by identifying that the environment is not fit for the students
personality, and therefore the student creates a situation that fits that need.
Person F supports this ideology by identifying that the students could be
disengaged in the learning content, according to Persons C & D this is due to the
closed environment being “boring”. Persons B, C, E & F also accentuate the
significance of disciplinary issues lacking from home, along side social class and
socioeconomic status that could cause a young person to misbehave at school.
When asked about the role a teacher plays in student misbehaviour, all
participants immediately highlighted the positive or negative effects a teacher
could pose. Person D emphasises that a teacher can reduce or increase student
misbehaviour regarding the response of the teacher. Person B identified that if a
teacher takes an interest in guiding a student to improved discipline, this will
result in a positive response and therefore the reduction of misbehaviour.
Whereas, Person E believes that if the teacher condones and immediately discuss
consequences, the student may not know how their behaviour can affect others,
and therefore instigates behavioural issues. All six interviewees also spoke about
the role peers play in instigating misbehaviour. Persons A & B, identify that a
student may misbehave in front of their peers for a “sense of belonging” and
“acceptance”. Person C stated that students will misbehave because “they have
an audience (peers),” whereas, if there was no one there they wouldn’t
misbehave. Similarly, Person F accentuated “if the instigator is getting a response
form their peers, they will continue to misbehave.” In the concluding stages of
the interviews, 5 out of the 6 interviewees described the affect of misbehaviour
on overall teaching and learning as “disruptive” resulting in “minimised
production of learning” inside the classroom.


The findings that were established based on the interviews held, found very
similar results to academic literature. As soon as the question “Why do young
people misbehave at school?” was asked, there was a vast sense of similarity in
the interviewee’s responses. Initial responses began with students being
disengaged with learning content due to “the environment being unfit” for the
misbehaving students personality. Kulinna’s (2007) research shows that
students that misbehave are disengaged, however they are disengaged because
they do not understand the class content and therefore lose interest and begin to
become restless in the classroom. Person F stated that if a student does not
understand class content, they will cause a divergence through misbehaviour in
order to deter their peers from knowing that they aren’t understanding. This
concept was only mentioned by Person F, who is an experienced secondary
educator, and therefore might have relevance to the reality of a classroom.
However, another factor for misbehaviour due to disengagement could be
boredom. Two interviewees (C & D), both highlighted that students can act out
due to being “bored”. The article ‘Attributions for and Consequences of Student
Behaviour’ (Cothran, Kulinna & Garrahy, 2009) supports the perception that
being “bored” in the classroom can lead to students misbehaving for peer and
teacher attention. Five out of six interview participants (A, C, D, E & F)
specifically mentioned that misbehaviour is conducted for attention of some sort.

Another evident concept that was brought up by all six interviewees was the
influence that a student’s home environment has on their discipline in the
classroom. Persons E & F positioned this concept as a major role in student
misbehaviour by including that if a student’s family life involves violence,
frustration, problems or merely the inability to have access to basic resources,
these factors can be associated with a youth’s behaviour. Christenson, Rounds &
Gorney (1992) support this notion and further describes that a students external
environment and family are further factors that can hinder or help flourish a
students academic success. Cothran, Kulinna & Garrahy (2009) heightens that
poor communication with parents can also be an underlying factor for student
misbehaviour. Thus it is evident that a student’s social class and socioeconomic
background cooperates with a student’s discipline in the classroom and can be a
major factor that should be addressed (McNeal, 2001).

All six participants stated in their interviews that they believed that peers play a
vast role in instigating misbehaviour in the classroom. Person C put great
emphasis on students wanting to impress their peers through misbehaviour and
gaining attention, however Person A highlighted that sometimes students might
misbehave for a “sense of belonging”, rather than lack of discipline. Claesen,
Brown & Eicher (1986), identifies that students that have discipline and are
academically interested, at times can misbehave due to adhering to subconscious
peer pressure that allows them to feel a sense of acceptance. Teachers can have a
pre-fixed ‘idea’ that students that are intelligent are the so-called “good”
students, and those who aren’t high achievers, are “bad.” However, this is not the
case and according to Person D, this pre-fixed notion can cause damage to a
student’s education due to the subliminal neglect from the teacher affecting their
overall teaching and learning.

The most common theme in the interview process was the influence that a
teacher can have on misbehaviour. There were three apparent roles teachers
have on students: a positive role, a negative role or an indifferent role. A teacher
has the power to deal with misbehaviour in the classroom correctly and continue
her lesson as planned, however this all comes down to how the teacher
approaches the situation (Skinner, 1992). Person B affirms that a positive
approach would include taking an interest in guiding and assisting a student to
better behaviour and discipline, similar to person C, who identifies that the way a
teacher approaches their students affects the way a student behaves in the
classroom. Person D highlights that if a teacher is “gentle and nice” towards the
student and shows interest in addressing the problem, there will be a reduction
in overall misbehaviour (Head, 2008). Conversely, according to Person B, if a
teacher provides a negative approach towards a student’s misbehaviour through
punishing them without good reason and punishing them disproportionately to
their misbehaviour, this can cause further disruptions and is unfair to the
students wellbeing. Similarly, Person E states that if a teacher immediately
condones and talks about consequences only, the students may never learn how
to change their behaviour or know the affect it has on others. Lewis et al. (2005),
asserts the negativity behind immediately punishing students and the affect it
can have on their educational growth. Skinner (1992) identified that when a
student misbehaves, positive reinforcement can be more effective in progressing
through misbehaviour, than consequences. This can be successful through
teachers identifying areas that students need assistance in and providing them
with additional support through pedagogical differentiation (Head, 2008 &
Oliver, 2011).

Student behaviour has proven to have many factors that affect it and ultimately
can only be successful in overcoming through the teachers approach. It is evident
that a positive teacher-student relationship can change the way misbehaviour
might affect overall teaching and learning. De Jong (2005) proposed a holistic
perception revolving around discipline in the classroom and the way programs
can be put in place in order to support inquiry-based learning through a student-
centred approach. This approach involved all students and accounts for the
diverse needs of students, allowing for students to focus on their level of work
rather than feel “bored” or uncomfortable (De Jong, 2005). From a theoretical
perspective, the psycho-educational theory and choice theory affirms that
students are in most circumstances well disciplined and their misbehaviour
occurs when their needs aren’t being met (McDonald, 2010). Whereas, if their
needs are being met, students find a physiological comfort in the classroom and
are able to grow academically as individuals (McDonald, 2010).

The behavioural perspective identifies that students are easily distracted when
there is “action outside the classroom” or when activities are less interactive (De
Nobile, Lyons & Arthur-Kelly, 2017, page.146). This notion is supported by the
cognitive behaviour theory, stating that behaviour is affected by internal
emotions (McDonald, 2010). Lyfords behavioural theory highlights that in a
classroom students begin to accept misbehaviour from their peers as a “social
norm” (McDonald, 2010). Therefore, as mentioned in the literature review,
positive reinforcement from the teacher towards student can result in a positive
learning environment. Nonetheless, a teacher is responsible to correctly
approach a student’s misbehaviour by taking into consideration factors that are
affecting them. The goal and choice theory identify that students misbehave in
order to achieve specific needs that aren’t being met (De Nobile, Lyons & Arthur-
Kelly, 2017, page.223). As previously mentioned, many students misbehave for
many reasons, and these can be social or emotional factors that can have affect
on their behaviour. Implications for improving teacher practice, is based around
teacher-student communication. Teachers should inform students when their
misbehaviour is an issue, that way students will start to identify that they need
to improve, rather than punishing students without the concept of
communication (Lewis et al. 2005).

In conclusion, it is evident that there are many opinions on misbehaviour, along

side varied research that identify factors that affect student behaviour, however,
it is important that the teacher puts the students wellbeing first by making the
student comfortable. Once the student is comfortable, the teacher can approach
the underlying issue of their behaviour and work towards better discipline.
Teachers also have the power to avoid misbehaviour through working with
adolescent attention spans, creating breaks, continuously changing activities and
having a student-centered pedagogical approach. If done correctly, teachers can
overcome disruptions in the classroom and benefit from a constructive overall
teaching and learning environment.

Christenson, S. L., Rounds, T., & Gorney, D. (1992). Family factors and student
achievement: An avenue to increase students' success. School Psychology
Quarterly, 7(3), 178.

Claesen, D. R., Brown, B. B., & Eicher, S. A. (1986). Perceptions of peer pressure,
peer conformity dispositions, and self-reported behavior among
adolescents. Developmental psychology, 22(4), 521-530.

Cothran, D. J., Kulinna, P. H., & Garrahy, D. A. (2009). Attributions for and
consequences of student misbehaviour. Physical Education and Sport
Pedagogy, 14 (2). 155-167.

De Nobile, J., Lyons,G., & Arthur-Kelly, M. (2017). Positive Learning Environment:

Creating and Maintaining Productive Classrooms. Victoria, Australia:
Cengage Learning Australia.

Head, R. (2008). The Developmental Management Approach to Classroom

Behaviour: Responding to individual needs. Victoria : ACER Press.

Jennings, P. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (2009). The prosocial classroom: Teacher

social and emotional competence in relation to student and classroom
outcomes. Review of educational research, 79(1), 491-525.

Kulinna, P. H. (2007). Teachers' attributions and strategies for student

misbehavior. The Journal of Classroom Interaction, 21-30.

Lewis, R., Romi, S., Qui,X., & Katz, Y.J.(2005). Teachers’ classroom discipline and
student misbehavior in Australia, China and Israel. Teaching and Teacher
Education, 21(6), 729-741. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2005.05.008.

McDonald, T. (2010) Classroom management: Engaging students in learning.

Sydney: Oxford University Press
McGrath, K. F. and P. Van Bergen (2015). "Who, when, why and to what end?
Students at risk of negative student–teacher relationships and their
outcomes." Educational Research Review 14: 1-17

McNeal, R. B. (2001). Differential effects of parental involvement on cognitive

and behavioral outcomes by socioeconomic status. The Journal of Socio-
Economics, 30(2), 171-179.

Oliver, B. (2011). Will the Net Generation use personal devices and social
software for supplementary learning experiences? Teaching and Learning
Forum 2008, Perth, Western Australia

Skinner, B. F. (1992). Verbal Behaviour. Massachusetts: Copley Publishing Group.