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Literature Review

Teachers’ attitude, expectation, behaviour and their relationship with students have always

been considered when evaluating student academic performance. However, some research paper

shows a different perspective of how these factors influence students’ behaviour. For example,

McGrath and Bergen (2015) suggested that a students’ age, gender, temperament, academic ability,

socioeconomic status and cultural background can affect the relationship between the student and

their teachers. A negative teacher-student relationship can influence adversely on students’ school

attendance, attitudes towards school and engagement in class, which eventually leads to misbebavior.

This is also supported by Demanet and Houtte (2012), who suggest that a weak bonding between

students and teachers also lead to an increase in misbehaviour in students. Demanet and Houtte

(2012) also conclude that a school-wide belief that students do not have certain aptitude to be taught

can result in teachers’ low expectation and less time and effort in teaching, which will eventually

cause cause students to feel strained and that they underachieve academically; these elements

eventually result in misconduct. Moreover, Sullivan, Johnson, Owens and Conway (2014) compare

classroom to an ecosystem which involves interactions between a teacher, students, curriculum and

resources, and physical setting. They believe that any factor can make students less engaged in

academic learning which later causes misconduct; it indicates that teachers’ interaction with students

can be part of the reason why students misbehave. Furthermore, some other reasons that result in

student misbehaviour are explained in the following literature; Cothran, Kulinna and Garrahy (2009)

investigate both teachers’ and students’ attribution to students’ misbehavior simultaneously. They

find that teachers believe students misbehave due to their poor home life while student argue that

the reason why they misbehave is because they find the learning experience meaningless and
unrelatable. Lin and Yi (2015) highlight that adolescents tend to have less sleep due to biological

and psychosocial reasons. The insufficient amount of sleep directly leads to youth conduct problems

and also indirectly affect students’ academic performance, level of emotional well-being and defiant

attitudes which result in an increase in the risk of conduct problem.

Interview findings

Before each interview was conducted, consent form was given to interviewee to sign.

Interviews were carried out in the form of conversation. Interviewees’ information are shown below.

A: Female, 18, Bachelor of Architecture, born in Australia

B: Female, 25, early childhood teaching, international student

C: Female, 32, pre-service teacher, born in Australia

D: Male, 23, IT student, born in Australia

E: Male, 40, part time worker and a father

F: Male, 34, pre-service teacher (Migrate to Australia from Korea since 14)

All interviewees’ responses were hand written. Upon analyzing each response, the most

frequent responses given by interviewees were highlighted as common themes.

The common responses given by all the participants in relation to student misbehaviour are

disengagement, attention seeking, internet, and family issue.

All participants responded that disengagement is the main reason for student misconduct,

however, the reason that cause disengagement vary from participant to participant. For example,

Participant A and D, referred to their own experience as a student, stated that boredom and lack of

meaning in learning caused their disengagement. While other participants responded that learning

difficulties, such as Autism, ADHD, English as a second language may hinder students’ engagement
in class. The usage of smart phone, lack of sleep and teacher prejudice are also mentioned by

participants as reasons for student disengagement.

The majority of the participants believe that students’ misbehaviour is due to their needs of

attention; participants B and E, in particular, stated that students seek attention by challenging

authority so they can become the “cool kids” in schools. According to Maslow’s theory, sense of

belonging and acceptance as well as respect by others rank high in the hierarchy of needs so being

seen as a ‘cool kid’ by being rebellious gains respect, which is likely perceived as attention in

adolescents’ domain.

Most of the participants believed that easy access to the internet increases the chances for

students to be exposed to inappropriate and violent online material. Participant F used viral video

as an example; he explained, “… kids do not have the ability to filter what they see, they simply

copy it without any regard to ethical or moral guidelines”. Young children who struggle to figure

out their identity are more likely to act out. This resonates with the point mentioned above in regard

to the issue of seeking attention as copying what they see in the viral videos will likely draw attention.

Family is also mentioned by most of the participants. Participants believe that family issues

such as financial problem, abusive parents, weak bonding between parents and students, and parents’

pressure on students’ academic performance can all result in student misbehaviour. As participate B

stated, “…students whose parents engage in violent behaviour at home tend to act violently at

school.” Similarly, Participant E believed that students who receive overwhelming pressure from

parents are more likely to act out in school as a way to expressing themselves and relieving stress.

As parenting is influential in regard to adolescents’ psychological development, unstable upbringing

will result in misbehaviour due to lack of discipline and guidance.

Compare and contrast

First of all, all participants from the interviewees believe that disengagement is a reason

for student misbehaviour. This point is supported by Sullivan, Johnson, Owens and Conway

(2014) who surveyed a number of 1,750 teachers across South Australia and concluded that

from teachers’ perception, student disengaged behaviour is tremendously widespread. Since the

teacher participants are in the same context where students are, it gives them more insights into

how students behave in the class. Similarly, most of the participants in the interviewees are

students themselves, therefore, they can understand the importance of engagement in relation

to behaviour from their own learning experience. Therefore, disengagement becomes a

common response from both interviewees and researchers.

Moreover, as mentioned earlier, insufficient amount of sleep leads to misbehavior (Lin and

Yin, 2014). Surprisingly, only one participant (F) mentioned this point. In Lin and Yin (2014) article,

they highlight that in Asian countries, such as Korea and China, due to the academic pressure,

adolescents tend to sleep less than their counterparts in Western countries. Coincidentally,

participant F has a Korean background - this might be the reason why he mentioned it when he was

asked about students’ misbehaviour.

Furthermore, none of the interviewee talked about teachers’ attribution to student misbehavior.

Unlikely, Demanet and Houtte (2012), who conducted a questionnaire of 11,945, Grade 3 and Grade

5 students from 48 randomly selected schools in Flemish, found that students are more likely to

misbehave if their teachers believe they do not have certain aptitude to be considered as “ideal

teachable students”. However, since most of the interviewees are university students, they are less

reliant on teachers. In other words, they are more self-regulated and self-directed. Hence, they might
not be able to see how teachers’ contribution can be a motivation for student to learn.

It is also worth mentioning that most of the participants blame social media for students’

misbehaviour; however, this is not supported by any research mentioned earlier. Taking into

consideration of the fact that most of the interviewees have left high schools at least 10 years ago,

lack of teaching experience and exposure to the new-age culture of adolescents may cause them to

amplify the power of social media. Attention seeking, which is an overlapping concept with social

media, is another common finding from literature review and interviewees. Both literature review

and interviewees hold the same opinion that students seek attention for social purposes. However,

Cothran, Kulinna and Garrahy (2009) also mentioned attention seeking for power. Participants in

this research is physical education teachers, since PE class is usually taken place outside a classroom,

students are more likely to conduce less-disciplined behaviour, therefore it is more likely for PE

teachers to see students using their physical strength to gain attention and power.

At last, family issue is both mentioned in research paper and by the interviewees. However,

participants link family problems directly to student disbehavior, while McGrath and Bergen (2015)

suggest that family background has influence on students’ behaviour indirectly. McGrath and

Bergen (2015) combined 92 studies and 12 review articles to conclude that students who comes

from ethnicity group, low SES family and low learning ability are more likely to experience negative

teacher-student relationship, which leads them to misbehave. It is true that teachers’ prejudice, set

ideas about students and treat them in a particular way and it reinforces the misbehavior.


By looking at the research paper and responses from the interviews, I realized that teachers

play a key role in managing student behavior. By understanding how teachers’ expectations,
attitude and behavior affect the way students behave, I believe it is important for me, as a

teacher, to take ownership in regard to the issues of student misbehavior. Therefore, it is my

priority to create a classroom environment with high expectations and supportive teacher-

student relationship.

What I will do first is to set expectations for student behavior and make sure that those

expectations are clearly communicated and explained to all students. Moreover, I should also be

assertive, but not authoritarian; it means I should always behave in a firm and positive way. For

example, setting up a “No excuse” rule for students, when a student misbehaves, instead of giving

the student punishment and showing the student how disappointed I am. I should tell the student

that I expect more out of him or her and I believe he or she will not do this again. Furthermore, high

expectations for student behavior should not be limited to a classroom. In other words, it should be

viewed as a whole-school approach. When teachers and staff members believe that their students

can behave properly, it helps to promote students behavioral discipline.

Secondly, it is important to build a positive relationship with students at the start of the teaching.

Therefore, on my first day of school, I will greet students at the classroom door, learn their names

and also share my experience with them. In the future teaching practice, I will show my interests in

what they like, I will be a listener, giving students opportunities to talk about what they like and

show my care for their life outside school. Even though it takes time and requires extensive effort

from teachers, I believe connectedness between teachers and students should be developed on a

school-wide base because when all the teachers and school staff members build positive relationship

with students, students will feel confident, safe and they will be more willing to learn and behave

Thirdly, knowing students want to gain attention requires me to create a fair and equal learning

classroom environment where every individual student is treated in a respectful manner. For

students, I will teach them to be supportive to their peers, be good listeners when other students talk.

For me, I will give students as much as attention possible, for example, I will use eye contact, body

language and proximity technique to show students that I am aware of them so that they will feel


It is also worth considering when students display disengaging behaviour in class, it does not

necessarily mean that they purposely misbehave in a particularly way; instead they might be sending

out signals for emotional support or academic help. If I fail to understand their intention, they will

be more likely to express themselves in a way which I consider as misbehavior. Being able to

understand the reasons behind student disengagement allows me to reflect on my own teaching

experience. It is important to let students feel what they learn is meaningful and relevant to their

future so that they will be motivated to learn. I will tell them it is not only about the content that

is taught in the class, it is the skills in relation to the content matters as well. I will also take

into account of their learning ability so that modification of teaching pedagogy can be

developed to better meet individual student learning needs.


In conclusion, this report elaborates the reasons as to why young children misbehave in schools.

It helps pre-service teachers to understand their ownership of student behavior so that they can be

supportive and caring. It also helps teachers to reflect on their attitude, behavior and teaching

practice so that effective teaching strategy can be developed to meet student needs.

Cothran, D., Kulinna, P. & Garrahy, D. (2009). Attributions for and consequences of student
misbehavior. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 14(2), 155-167. Retrieved from

Demanet, J., & Houtte, M. (2012). Teachers’ attitudes and students’ opposition. School misconduct
as a reaction to teachers’ diminished effort and affect. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28(6),
860-869. Retrieved from:

Lin, W., &Yi, C. (2015). Unhealthy Sleep Practices, Conduct Problems, and Daytime Functioning
During Adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 44(2), 431-446. Retrieved from

McGrath, K., & Bergen, P. (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.
Retrieved from

Sullivan, A., Johnson, B., Owens, L., & Conway, R. (2014). Punish Them or Engage them? Teachers’
Views of Unproductive Student Behaviours in the classroom. Australian Journal of Teacher
Education, 39(6), 43-56. Retrieved from;dn=479156672510478;res=IELAPA