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Definition and management of pupils’ problematic behaviours: A teacher focused approach

KIDD-SMITHERS, Rachel (2016) Definition and management of pupils’ problematic behaviours: A teacher focused approach. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.

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Current school guidance and policies from central government place behaviour as a key priority. Historically, governments have also placed behaviour at the forefront. Recently, for example, the 2010 White paper, Department for Education (DfE) ‘Behaviour and Discipline in Schools’ guidance (2011), and Education Minster Nicky Morgan’s appointment of a behaviour tsar (Tom Bennett) tasked with advising policy on how to raise standards of behaviour in schools (2015) confirms this emphasis. Even though regulatory bodies recognise the importance of schools managing ‘problematic behaviours’ there appears to have been a failure to explicitly define what constitutes a problem behaviour in schools. However, this is not surprising given the continuing controversy regarding how ‘behaviour’ (and particularly, ‘problematic behaviour’) should be characterised and defined. To date the support for schools and teachers to better understand ‘behaviour’ characteristics and more importantly ‘difficult behaviours’ is limited. Thus, the issue of behaviour and its management in schools is a longstanding concern. This raises the issue of how schools can continue to raise standards when no clear definition is offered to guide leaders and teachers to better understand ‘behaviours’.
This thesis addresses these concerns in a systematic attempt to promote understanding of the following key areas:
1. How teachers define ‘problematic’ classroom behaviours and their reasons for this.
2. How teachers respond to such ‘problematic’ behaviours in classroom settings.
3. The extent to which teachers reflect upon such ‘problematic’ behaviours and the impact their responses have on the learners previously identified as exhibiting ‘problematic’ behaviours.
This work incorporates a comprehensive review of how schools have historically managed pupil behaviours with reference to biological and sociological influences. For the purpose of this study, the ways in which relevant ideas and their boundaries are formed held particular interest. Hence, the methodology incorporates a heuristic approach. There was a primary interest in reviewing how teachers define and respond to behaviours deemed ‘problematic’. The methodological approach allowed both the researcher and research respondent to discover if factors such as gender, length of service, or subject area helped to define and shape teacher definitions. A key aim was to understand how teachers respond to those defined behaviours by identifying and analysing: a) What types of non-verbal and verbal communications do teachers use and why?
b) What sanctions/ rewards do teachers use and why?
c) To what extent do teachers use their classroom environment to respond to behaviours, i.e., seating arrangements, behaviour rules displayed?
d) How and when do teachers use support networks in the management of behaviours?
e) What heuristics do teachers employ in relation to their decision around defining learners’ ‘problematic’ behaviours?
The research project concluded by examining the extent to which teachers reflect upon problematic behaviours, considering the possible impacts that their responses have towards pupils displaying ‘problematic’ behaviours.
This main issue identified in this study was teacher congruency, i.e., how what teachers say and do when defining and managing pupils’ problematic behaviours differed. It is those observed differences in teachers’ consistency which was of most interest. The disparity in the ways different teachers identified and responded to ‘problematic’ behaviours was considered against the national backdrop, in which new benchmarks for behaviour have been produced (2015 Ofsted framework).The NFER 2012 findings, which identified pupils’ problematic behaviours as a contributing factor for teacher stress and teacher recruitment, especially within the secondary sector, provided an important context for this work while also highlighting the potential importance of enhancing understanding in this area. The study argues that teachers and education settings could benefit from understanding how teachers’ definition and management of pupils’ problematic behaviours might be influenced by factors not necessarily directly linked to those behaviours. By better understanding the processes involved in the identification and management of pupils’ and their problematic behaviours more parity between what teaches do and say may be achieved.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Education
Depositing User: Jeffrey HENSON
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2017 12:16
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2017 12:16
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/3674

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