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Teaching and Teacher Education 24 (2008) 715724


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Students reaction to classroom discipline in Australia,


Israel, and China
Ramon Lewisa,1, Shlomo Romib,, Yaacov J. Katzb,2, Xing Quic
a

School of Educational Studies, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Vic., Australia


b
School of Education, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
c
Department of Psychology, Sichuan College of Education, Sichuan Province, Chengdu 610041, PR China
Received 6 November 2006; received in revised form 19 April 2007; accepted 16 May 2007

Abstract
This study investigates the extent to which students from Australia, Israel, and China report that their teachers classroom
disciplinary behaviour affects their attitudes towards schoolwork and the teacher. They also report how justiable a teachers
intervention appeared. In all three settings, both punishment and aggression relate signicantly to the level of students distraction
and negative affect towards the teacher. Teachers recognition of responsible behaviour and discussion with students relate to less
distraction and greater belief that the intervention was necessary. Hinting and the involvement of students in classroom discipline
decision making relate to a stronger belief that the disciplinary actions taken are warranted. Implications are discussed.
r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Classroom management; Teacherstudent relationship; Students reaction

1. Approaches to classroom discipline


Without effective behaviour management, a
positive and productive classroom environment is
impossible to achieve. Finding the most effective
techniques for producing behaviour change and
preventing the development of classroom discipline
problems is a moderately stressful part of the
professional lives of many teachers (Fields, 1986;
Hart, Wearing, & Conn, 1995; Johnson, Oswald, &
Adey, 1993; Lewis, 2001; Oswald, Johnson, &
Corresponding author. Tel.: +972 35318710.

E-mail addresses: r.lewis@latrobe.edu.au (R. Lewis),


romish@mail.biu.ac.il (S. Romi), katzya@mail.biu.ac.il
(Y.J. Katz), Xingqiu168@126.com (X. Qui).
1
Tel.: +1 61394792611.
2
Tel.: +1 972 3 5418709.

Whitington, 1997). Some report it as a major


concern for teachers, administrators, and the public
(Hardman & Smith, 2003; Macciomei, 1999) and a
major reason for job dissatisfaction (Liu & Meyer,
2005). Part of the teachers concern relates to
uncertainty as to what approaches are most reasonable and effective. The need for condence regarding the impact of particular strategies is important
to teachers given that the ability to manage students
effectively is a critical component of their sense of
professional identity (McCormick & Shi, 1999), and
that disciplinarian ranks third, after leader and
knowledge dispenser in the metaphors teachers
provide for their work (Goddard, 2000).
There are at least three main approaches to
classroom discipline, each advocating particular
techniques (Lewis, 1997; Wolfgang, 1995). Some

0742-051X/$ - see front matter r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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R. Lewis et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 24 (2008) 715724

educationalists argue that in order to promote


responsibility in children, teachers need to develop
clear expectations for student behaviour and then
judiciously apply a range of rewards and recognitions for good behaviour as well as punishments for
misbehaviour (Canter & Canter, 2002; Swinson &
Melling, 1995; Swinson & Cording, 2002). Others
argue that the aim can only be attained by less
emphasis on student obedience and teacher coercion, and more on student self-regulation. This is
facilitated by techniques such as negotiating,
discussing, and contracting (e.g., Freiberg, 1996;
Pearl & Knight, 1998; Schneider, 1996; Vitto, 2003;
Wade, 2000). The third orientation favours group
participation and decision making, whereby the
group takes responsibility for ensuring the appropriateness of the behaviour of all its members
(Edwards & Mullis, 2003; Glasser, 1984; Johnson &
Johnson, 2006; Schneider, 1996).
In practice, however, most programmes addressing classroom behaviour management combine
techniques from all three approaches, with varying
emphases. Even a behavioural programme such as
Assertive Discipline, as it has developed in schools,
has incorporated counselling techniques (Canter &
Canter, 1976, 2002). Similarly, a heavily negotiation-oriented programme such as Stop, Think,
Do includes the options of logical consequences
(Beck & Horne, 1992).
Recent research addressing classroom discipline
suggests that there are a number of discipline
strategies which students perceive to be more
common in classes containing greater numbers of
misbehaving students (Lewis, 2001). Some of these
strategies, however, such as the application of
punishment, which increases in severity when resisted
or ignored, appear to be of limited usefulness in
promoting responsible student behaviour (Lewis,
2001). One tactic, namely teachers aggression,
comprising group punishment, humiliation, and
yelling in anger, even appears to be associated with
more student misbehaviour and higher levels of
negative student attitudes towards learning. These
techniques have similar effects in classrooms in
Israel, China, and Australia (Lewis, Romi, Xing, &
Katz, 2005). In contrast, there are strategies that may
be more productive, resulting in less misbehaviour
and more responsibility. These include recognition of
responsible behaviour, discussions with misbehaving
students about the impact their behaviour has on
others, and hints that identify the existence of
unacceptable behaviour but do not demand improve-

ment. Unfortunately, however, the ndings of these


studies (Lewis, 2001; Lewis et al., 2005) have been
based on correlational analyses. Correlational studies
do not generally permit the interpretation of causal
relationships. Consequently, the ndings reported
could be interpreted either in terms of teacher
strategies inuencing student behaviour or teachers
selecting particular discipline strategies in response to
the levels of misbehaviour or the responsibility
displayed by their students.
2. Purpose of study
The impetus for the present research was the
reporting of students reactions to classroom
discipline in Australia (Lewis, 2006). In an attempt
to examine the extent to which the relationships
reported for Australian students applied to students
from varying cultural settings, replication studies
were carried out in China and Israel. China and
Israel were selected because, whereas Australia is a
typically western country, China is a typically
eastern country, and Israel is somewhere in
between. These differences provided the opportunity to examine students reactions to various
discipline strategies in systematically varying national settings. The researchers from China and
Israel were senior, very experienced faculty members who had been involved in teacher training for
many years. Given their interest in replicating the
Australian study, the assumption was made that
classroom discipline and students reactions were
issues of relevance to schools in their respective
environments, as was the particular research design
of the initial study (Lewis, 2001).
3. Sampling
The three samples utilized in this study were
restricted to students in grades 712 in coeducational schools. Although the sampled schools were
not representative, they were chosen carefully to
ensure that the sample included both larger and
smaller schools, located in a range of socioeconomic
and geographic areas. In addition, schools that were
judged by the researchers to be atypical were not
included (e.g., extremely large, small, or isolated
schools, or those that selected students on the basis
of sex or ability). Despite the care taken to see that
the sampling was not obviously biased, issues of
small samples and lack of representativeness preclude generalizations related to national differences.

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R. Lewis et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 24 (2008) 715724

In Australia, all secondary schools in the northeastern region of Victoria and a small number in the
Melbourne metropolitan region were invited to
participate in the study. The response rate was
70% and reects the importance attributed to the
topic of classroom discipline in secondary schools.
In Israel, a sample of four high schools (grades
1012) and eight junior high schools (grades 79) in
central Israel were invited to participate in the
study, and all accepted. In China, the sample of
students was drawn from eight schools in the
Chengdu region, Sichuan Province. In each Chinese
and Israeli school, a random sample of classes in
grades 712 were selected. A research assistant
administered questionnaires to the classes, and all
students completed the questionnaire.
As argued elsewhere (Lewis et al., 2005), measuring constructs such as classroom discipline strategies
and students reactions to them in three national
settings was problematic. Constructs measured in
Australia cannot be assumed equivalent to those in
Israel or China. Although it would have been
possible to apply structural modelling to statistically
examine the extent to which one particular conceptualization applies equally to all settings, the
main purpose of this study was to examine relationships that existed between disciplinary techniques
and students reactions in each setting. Had
different measures been utilized in different countries, comparisons would have been methodologically prohibited. Consequently, it was determined to
proceed with the comparisons, using a translated
questionnaire comprising identical items in each
setting. This was done despite our awareness that
students interpretations of the meaning of a
questionnaire item may vary by national setting,
in part systematically related to respective cultural
understandings. Nevertheless, given the ready acceptance of the items utilized in this study by senior
teacher educators in each national setting, it was
assumed that the use of the agreed items permitted
useful comparisons. However, further research
needs to be done to gain insight into variation in
students conceptualization of both discipline practices and their responses to them in differing
national settings.
4. Instrumentation
To measure classroom discipline, a shortened,
24-item version of the 35-item questionnaire used by
Lewis (2001) was administered to students in China

717

and Israel (Lewis et al., 2005). Rather than identify


individual teachers, questionnaires specied one of
six subject areas (English [Chinese, Hebrew],
Science, etc.). Students were then requested to
concentrate on one class in that subject area when
completing the questionnaire.
As explained elsewhere (Lewis et al., 2005), the
original 35 items were reduced to 24 by including
only those accepted by all three authors as culturally
relevant to the measurement of six frequently
discussed discipline techniques. These six include
rewarding, punishing, involvement in decision
making, discussion and negotiation, hinting, and
aggression. Combinations of one or more of these
strategies comprise most of the available approaches to discipline (Charles, 2004; Lewis, 1997;
Tauber, 2007; Wolfgang, 1995).
Students were asked to indicate the extent to
which their teachers:







recognize appropriate behaviour of individual


students or the class (e.g., reward individual
students who behave properly),
punish students who misbehave, increasing the
level of punishment if necessary (e.g., increase the
level of punishment if a misbehaving student
stops when told, but then does it again),
discuss with students the impact of their behaviour on others, and negotiate with students on a
one-to-one basis (e.g., discusses students behavior with them to allow them to gure out a
better way to behave in future),
involve students in classroom discipline decision
making (e.g., organize the class to work out the
rules for good behaviour),
hint about students unacceptable behaviour
without making a demand (e.g., describe what
students are doing wrong, and expect them to
stop and
use aggressive techniques (e.g., yell angrily at
students who misbehave).

Each of the 24 items required a response on a


6-point scale to indicate how frequently the teacher
acted in the described manner when trying to
deal with misbehaviour. Responses ranged from
6Nearly always to 1Never. The answers reected students perception of their teachers use of
each classroom discipline strategy. However, as the
teacher was identied only in terms of the subject
taught, his or her anonymity was preserved.

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R. Lewis et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 24 (2008) 715724

718

The introduction to the questionnaire was brief


and indicated that the questions to follow focused
on classroom discipline and how you feel about
it. There was no indication as to the research
questions being addressed.
To assess students reactions to their teachers
classroom disciplinary practices, a questionnaire
used in a recent study (Lewis, 2006), was translated
into Chinese and Hebrew. The items were then
considered by the colleagues in China and Israel for
relevance to their respective students. All were
agreed on by the three researchers as providing a
potentially culturally relevant measure of students
reaction to discipline in each respective country and
were therefore included in the research questionnaire. Students were asked to report how they feel
when your teacher deals with misbehaviour in
class. Two of the 10 items comprising the
questionnaire required students to report negativity
towards the teacher (Annoyed at the teachers, Sick
of the teacher picking on kids). Two others focused
on how often they felt the teachers behaviour was
justied (The students deserved it, It was necessary)
and a group of six items assessed how often they felt
distracted by their teachers discipline strategies
(e.g., Not able to get on with my work properly, Put
off my work). Students indicated how often they felt
the way described in the questionnaire item when
their teacher dealt with misbehaviour in class. Five
alternative responses were provided. These were
Nearly always, Most of the time, Some of the time,
Hardly ever or Never and were coded from 5 to 1,
respectively.

6. Measuring students reactions to classroom


discipline
As explained above, some of the data required to
permit the analysis proposed for this study have
recently been published (Lewis et al., 2005). These
were derived from the scales assessing students
perceptions of teachers usage of punishment,
hinting, involvement of students, rewards and
recognitions, discussion, and aggressive classroom
management techniques. In general, as reported in
Lewis et al., although there was some concern about
the low internal consistency of responses to items in
two of the scales (Involvement and Hinting), all six
scales were utilized to permit replication.
As explained earlier, the scales used in the current
study to assess negativity towards the teacher,
justication of the teachers intervention and
distraction associated with the teachers disciplinary
behaviour were derived from those used in a
previous study (Lewis & Lovegrove, 1987) and
employed again in a more recent study (Lewis,
2006). The purpose of using equivalent scales was to
allow for the discussion of replicated ndings.
Table 2 reports the number of items in each scale
(n), the scales average item means, standard
deviations of the average item means and a
coefcients of internal consistency.
Inspection of these results show good internal
consistency for the rst scale in each country, and
although the reliability gures are low for the 2-item
scales, it is partly a function of small-scale length.
These scales were therefore still used to examine

5. The sample

Table 2
Reactions to classroom discipline

Table 1 records the number of students in grades


78, 910, and 1112 for the three participating
countries. Of the total of 5521 students, the
percentage of males was 48%, 52%, and 51% in
Australia, China, and Israel, respectively.

Scale

Table 1
Study sample
Country

Australia
Israel
China

Respondents
Year 78

Year 910

Year 1112

Total

1713
261
159

1624
334
147

846
241
196

4183
836
502

No. of
items

Ave.
item
mean

Ave. item
std. dev.

Israel (n 826)
Distracted
Action justied
Negativity to teacher

5
2
2

2.3
2.9
2.8

.9
1.1
1.0

.82
.63
.64

Australia (n 4644)
Distracted
Action justied
Negativity to teacher

5
2
2

2.9
3.3
2.9

.7
.6
1.0

.82
.67
.76

China (n 503)
Distracted
Action justied
Negativity to teacher

5
2
2

2.7
3.6
2.2

.9
1.1
1.0

.81
.63
.63

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R. Lewis et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 24 (2008) 715724

students reactions as a way of comparing data from


China and Israel with those previously reported
from Australia (Lewis, 2006).
Examination of the scale means indicates a
similar pattern of results in different settings. For
example, students in China and Australia are, on
average, a little more than some of the time
convinced that their teachers disciplinary actions
are justied, and are distracted by the teachers
behaviour a little less than sometimes. In contrast,
students in Israel report comparatively less justication and less distraction. In addition, whereas
students in Israel and Australia sometimes feel
negatively towards the teacher when he or she deals
with misbehaviour, Chinese students report that
they hardly ever feel this way.
To further understand the extent of the adverse
impact of teachers classroom discipline on students,
it was decided to inspect the proportions of students
who were at least sometimes distracted, perceiving the teachers behaviour as unjustied and feeling
negative towards the teacher. For these three
measures, the Australian samples respective gures
are 39%, 23%, and 32%. These appear to vary a
little from the data of year 9 students gathered 2
years earlier, of 35%, 42%, and 42%, respectively
(Lewis, 2006). The inclusion in the current sample of
year 7 and year 11 students may explain the
differences to some degree. The proportions of
students more than sometimes distracted, seeing
the teachers behaviour as unjustied and feeling
negative towards the teacher are 17%, 40%, and
29% in Israel, and are 30%, 17%, and 17%,
respectively, in China. In general, these proportions
are substantial, and indicate that a sizeable number
of students in all settings are adversely affected by
witnessing or experiencing the way their teachers
handle students misbehaviour in classrooms.
Before examining national differences in the
amount of student distraction, negativity, and
feelings of justication, it was decided to consider
the relationships between these three reactions to
teachers classroom disciplinary strategies. Table 3
below records the relevant intercorrelations.
The data reported in Table 3 show that in all
settings a substantial relationship exists between the
likelihood of students being distracted from their
work as a result of experiencing or witnessing their
teachers disciplinary strategies and their dislike of
the teacher. This nding may indicate either that
students who do not like their teacher become
distracted, students who are distracted by their

719

Table 3
Relationships between reactions to classroom discipline
Setting

Israel

China

Australia

Justication-negativity
Distraction-negativity
Justication-distraction

.29
.57
.08

.09
.56
.08

.26
.59
.01

teacher resent it and consequently do not like their


teacher, or both. Negativity also relates signicantly, but less substantially to students belief in
whether the teachers intervention was justied in
both Israel and Australia. All other inter-relationships were insignicant.
In order to conduct comparisons of students
reactions to classroom discipline, based on national
settings, a decision was taken to statistically control
a number of variables that appear to have the
potential to independently inuence the impact of
such reactions. These included year level (78, 910,
or 1112), the gender of the student, the gender of
the teacher, and the extent to which the respondent
reported he or she misbehaved in class. To measure
the extent of misbehaviour, students were asked to
focus on the teacher they were describing and
address the question How often do you misbehave
in this teachers class?. Responses were rated on
the scale, Almost never, Only a little, Sometimes,
and Often, coded 14, respectively. A 5-way
MANOVA was conducted in which the six disciplinary strategies served as the dependent variables and year level, student gender, teacher sex
(gender), extent of misbehaviour, and national
setting acted as the ve independent variables.
The analysis indicated a total of ve statistically
signicant effects. Since the analysis investigated 31
predictors (main effects and interactions), a conservative probability level of .001 was utilized for
statistical signicance. Table 4 reports the multivariate F values (Pillais trace) for the signicant
analyses.
Inspection of the data in Table 4 shows three
main effects and three interaction effects that were
statistically signicant. All of these produced
signicant differences between groups at the .001
level.
Inspection of univariate F values and associated
post hoc analysis (Sheffe) indicated that students in
Australia reported being signicantly (F 17.84,
p .000) more distracted by their teachers use of
discipline strategies (mean 2.95) than did those

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R. Lewis et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 24 (2008) 715724

720

sampled from China (2.77), who were more


distracted than those in Israel (2.35). The Chinese
students reported the least negative affect towards
the teacher (2.20) and the most belief that their
teachers disciplinary action was justied (3.53).
Although the Australian and Israeli students did
not differ in negative affect towards teachers, the
former reported a stronger belief in the justication
of the teachers action (3.32) than did students in
Israel (2.94).
There were two other main effects. First, students
at year levels 7 and 8 reported signicantly less
distraction associated with the classroom disciplinary behaviour of teachers (2.77) than did students in
year levels 9 and 10 (2.87), or 11 and 12 (2.88)
(F 5.20, p .000). A deeper understanding of
this nding is gained by inspecting interaction
effects. For example, the interaction effects for
national setting by year level indicated that it is
largely the Australian and to a lesser extent the
Israeli data that provided the main effects for both

Table 4
Signicant predictors of classroom discipline strategies
Independent
variable

F-value

National setting
(NS)
Year level
Student
misbehaviour
NS  year level
NS  year 
teacher sex

20.14

9762

.000

5.20
11.03

6
9

9762
14646

.000
.000

3.94
3.02

12
12

14646
14646

.000
.000

Hyp
df

Error
df

Signicance
level

Distraction and Negative affect towards the teacher.


In Israel, the differences associated with year level
were quite small. In China, year levels 9 and 10
report to a lesser degree both reactions than did
other students. The three-way interaction effect of
national setting by year level by teacher gender
further explicates the ndings for negative affective
responses to classroom discipline by showing that
for the Chinese respondents, students of male
teachers provide data very similar to the Australian
students. That is, those with the most negative
emotional response to classroom discipline are in
year levels 9 and 10. In contrast, Chinese students in
year levels 7 and 8, with female teachers, report the
greatest negative affect towards teachers classroom
discipline.
As might be expected, there was a linear relationship between increasing levels of student misbehaviour and the likelihood of their being distracted
(F 9.30, p .000), perceiving the teachers behaviour as unjustied (F 9.06, p .000), and feeling
negatively towards the teacher (F 24.84,
p .000).
7. Students reactions to teachers disciplinary
techniques
The nal stage of the analysis examined the
relationship between the discipline strategies perceived by students and their reactions to them.
Table 5 reports the relevant correlations. Two
correlations are reported for each strategy. First,
the raw correlations reect the overall relationship
between strategies and students reactions. In
addition, partial correlations, in parentheses, which

Table 5
Simple and partial correlations between discipline techniques and reaction to discipline
Punishment

Discussion

Recognition

Aggression

Involvement

Hinting

Israel
Negativity to teacher
Distraction
Justication

.29 (.15)
.25 (.04)
.03 (.00)

.27 (.10)
.17 (.08)
.20 (.04)

.32 (.20)
.22 (.20)
.26 (.15)

.39 (.24)
.43 (.30)
.05 (.07)

.06 (.00)
.05 (.10)
.23 (.17)

.04 (.06)
.02 (.07)
.17 (.08)

China
Negativity to teacher
Distraction
Justication

.29 (.11)
.28 (.13)
.10 (.13)

.16 (.06)
.13 (.03)
.23 (.06)

.17 (.12)
.15 (.13)
.24 (.11)

.40 (.29)
.35 (.24)
.01 (.08)

.15 (.08)
.07 (.00)
.25 (.12)

.10 (.03)
.05 (.01)
.14 (.02)

Australia
Negativity to teacher
Distraction
Justication

.19 (.08)
.18 (.08)
.05 (.02)

.24 (.12)
.13 (.06)
.24 (.07)

.26 (.14)
.15 (.07)
.23 (.10)

.51 (.41)
.39 (.28)
.17 (.14)

.04 (.06)
.01 (.03)
.17 (.01)

.07 (.04)
.01 (.02)
.17 (.06)

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remove any explanatory variance shared with the


other strategies, are also reported. This allows a
determination of the extent of unique relationship
between each of these strategies and student
reactions. Although correlations as low as .1
may be considered statistically signicant (po.05)
in all three countries, only correlations of at least .15
will be considered as indicating a relationship
of note, and only patterns of relationships will
be addressed, given the low correlations being
considered.
As can be seen, with some small variations, the
pattern of correlations within data collected from
different national settings is very similar. Firstly, in
all three settings, both punishment and aggression
have a reasonably strong association with distraction and negative affect towards the teacher. In
Australia, aggression also associates with a students belief that the teachers disciplinary action
was unjustied. Secondly, in all three settings, the
use of recognitions and discussions with students,
were found to relate to less distraction, greater
liking of the teacher, and a greater belief that the
intervention was necessary.
Finally, more hinting and involvement of students in decision making related to a stronger belief
that the discipline actions taken by a teacher are
warranted. In the data sampled from China, there is
some evidence that teachers who use more hinting
and involvement appear to be more warmly
perceived by their students. In general, the raw
correlations for punishment, discussion, recognition, and aggression are substantial.
Inspection of the raw correlations in Table 5
shows that they are substantially higher than the
partial correlations. This is due to teachers using a
combination of disciplinary techniques. The stronger the association between disciplinary strategies,
the less likely their respective partial correlations
with students reactions will reach signicance.
This overlap may explain why only teachers
use of aggression displays substantial partial correlations with the three responses to discipline
scales. Unlike recognition, discussion, hinting, and
inclusive techniques, which each associate substantially (r4.4) with at least three other techniques,
teachers aggression relates substantially only to
punishment (r .41). Overall, the partial correlations highlight the signicance of the positive
impact of recognition, particularly in Israel, and
the negative impact of teachers aggression in all
three countries.

721

8. Discussion
As mentioned in the introduction to this paper, it
is important for teachers to have condence in the
disciplinary techniques they select for use in classrooms. The results of this study demonstrate that in
terms of students attitudes to their classroom work
and to their teacher, two strategies appear very
productive, two somewhat productive, and two
could be characterized as counterproductive. These
ndings apply equally to students sampled from
Australia, Israel, and China. In reaching these
conclusions, it is important to restate that representational sampling was not undertaken and there
were concerns about the cultural relevance of survey
items in different national settings. Nevertheless, the
robustness of the patterns of relationships augurs
well for cross-national comparisons in the area of
classroom management. The similarities in these
patterns of ndings, however, do not remove the
need for further research into variations in students
conceptualization of both disciplinary practices and
their responses to them in differing national
settings.
The most useful techniques for generating positive reactions are recognition and reward for
responsible behaviour, and discussions with students where a negotiated outcome is achieved.
The success of the latter technique is not surprising.
Many educators and researchers argue that inclusion of, and negotiation with, students increases
their sense of competency and belonging, which
in turn leads to a decrease in misbehaviour
(Anderman, 2002). However, according to Beck
and Malley (1998) many conventional classrooms
do not afford enough appropriate teacherstudent
interactions to provide for a sense of belonging
for students. This is most noticeably the case
for students at risk (Beck & Malley, 1998) and
more challenging students (Ellis, Hart, & SmallMcGinley, 1998).
Given the extent to which recognition and reward
related positively to all three student reactions
investigated in this study, teachers would do well
to praise both individuals and the class, and to
utilize personal and group rewards. Such a recommendation would also appear consistent with the
views of a number of other researchers who suggest
that teachers recognize students appropriate behaviour (Buisson, Murdock, Reynolds, & Cronin,
1995; Cavalier, Ferretti, & Hodges, 1997; Swiezy,
Matson, & Box, 1992).

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R. Lewis et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 24 (2008) 715724

It needs to be noted, however, that there are


numerous research studies that have highlighted
negative effects associated with the use of recognition and reward (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 1999a,
1999b, 2001; Kohn, 1993, 1996). According to the
critics of the use of reward and recognition, if
students were to be recognized for responsible
behaviour, their sense of competence and commitment could be undermined. Consequently, their
desire to act responsibly would decrease once the
motivators ceased.
Nevertheless, a recent comprehensive empirical
examination of the claims for and against the use of
reinforcements (Akin-Little, Eckert, Lovett, &
Little, 2004) indicates that there is almost no
down-side to the use of extrinsic reinforcements,
especially when they are verbal and make reference
to a students competence. It appears, therefore,
that reinforcement of appropriate behaviour may be
most effective for students who have some doubt
about their competence. Such students are often
among those more difcult to manage. Consequently, teachers should be encouraged to provide
reinforcement for students responsible behaviour,
particularly for students who tend to misbehave
more frequently. In addition, they should be
prepared to discuss with such students the negative
impact their behaviour has on others. As part of this
process, the students perspective would be explored
and claried, and, if necessary, confronted. Moreover, students should be encouraged to negotiate
more appropriate ways of behaving in class.
Two techniques, hinting and involvement, appear
moderately successful in all three national settings.
Both relate to students views that the teachers
disciplinary intervention was justied. However,
given the importance attached to student involvement by those who argue for inclusive discipline
(Edwards & Mullis, 2003; Glasser, 1984; Johnson &
Johnson, 2006; Schneider, 1996), it is of interest to
note that involvement does not appear to inuence
the extent to which students are distracted from
their work, or their regard for their teacher, when he
or she attempts to manage classroom misbehaviour.
Having identied effective disciplinary techniques, it is instructive to consider the two that are
not effective, namely punishment and aggression.
In contrast to the positive ndings reported
above, aggression (yelling in anger, group-punishment, and the use of sarcasm) and, to a lesser extent,
punishment impact negatively on the attitudes of
students to their teacher and to their schoolwork in

all three countries. There is a lesser but signicant


negative association between teachers aggression
and perceived justication for the teachers intervention in Australia, but not in the other two
countries. These ndings are not surprising. The
impact of aggressive or conict-inducing strategies
by teachers to maintain classroom control has been
recently examined with the resulting observation
that When students perceive their teachers as
misbehaving several negative outcomes can occur.
Mainly, there are three categories of negative
effects: Educational, psychological, and somatic
outcome (Sava, 2002, p. 1010). The most relevant
of these is a general lack of motivation (Gorham &
Christophel, 1992) and a specic negative affect
toward course material (Wanzer & McCroskey,
1998). Similarly, Fraser and others, in a series of
studies, demonstrated that students who perceived
their teachers as admonishing and strict had more
negative attitudes towards the subject being taught
(e.g., Fisher, Henderson & Fraser, 1997; Henderson,
Fisher, & Fraser, 2000). Savas results (2002)
reinforce these ndings, he concludes that
The above data bring us to the conclusion that
4450% of the total explained variances of
educational and psychosomatic outcomes depend
on co-operative vs. conict-inducing attitudes of
teachers. Hence, conict-inducing attitudes from
teachers will lead to educational and psychosomatic complaints in pupilsy (p. 1018).
As noted by Pierkarski (2000), teachers aggression towards students is one of the most common
stressful school situations for students. The survival-coping strategies adolescents employ to deal
with such stress can have a range of short-term and
long-term negative consequences, including exclusion from the classroom, absence from school,
withdrawal or suspension, increased smoking, and
drug or alcohol abuse. Australian studies, for
example, have shown that 15-year olds absent from
school have higher levels of psychopathology (Borg,
1992), and engage in more frequent high-risk
behaviours (Handelsman & Gupta, 1997). Disengagement from schooling, frequent referrals out of
class and absence or exclusion from school have a
signicant impact on future opportunities for
education or access to employment. Consequently,
teachers use of aggressive disciplinary techniques is
a cause for concern.
In light of the ndings reported above, it is of
interest to reect on some recent ndings reported by

ARTICLE IN PRESS
R. Lewis et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 24 (2008) 715724

Lewis et al. (2005). They note that the disciplinary


techniques seen by samples of Australian, Israeli, and
Chinese students to be used at least sometimes by
their teachers are punishment, recognition, discussion, and hinting. The latter two techniques are used
most frequently. Student involvement was seen to
occur a little less than sometimes, as was the use of
aggression in Israel or Australia, although aggression
was perceived as occurring only a little more than
Hardly ever in China. These data indicate that
teachers generally implement constructive techniques
to deal with student misbehaviour. Nevertheless,
there would appear to be two areas needing
improvement. The rst is the opportunity for more
recognition of appropriate behaviour and the second
is a reduction in the use of teacher punishment and
aggression in Australian and Israeli classrooms.
These recommendations need to not only be
implemented by practising teachers and but also be
a focus of in-service education. There may be more
value in making teachers-in-training aware of the
benets of recognition and relationships before bad
habits become established practice.
Acknowledgement
The research project reported in this paper was in
part sponsored by the Institute for Community
Education and Research, School of Education,
Bar-Ilan University, Israel.

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