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Section One:

Management of student behaviour is pervasive throughout education. The following

essay proposes concepts to greater understand adolescent student misbehaviour, and further

provide foci on strategies for development and management. Literature denotes vastly

different influences on student behaviour in a multitude of contexts.

An analysis of interviews with individuals (n = 6; 3 male, 3 female), will encompass a

range of variant perspectives to develop themes relevant to the analysis. Contemporary

research in the field of secondary student misbehaviour will then be utilised to formulate

implications for praxis at an individual and whole school level.

Alter, Walker and Landers (2013) considered the predominant challenging behaviour

was student’s being ‘off-task.’ Contrastingly, the least problematical behaviour was ‘isolation

and/or no social interaction.’ This indication is compartmentalised within the teaching strata.

Crawshaw (2015) reviewed teacher perceptions of student misbehaviour and identified

recurrent talking out of turn was the most consistent discernment. These studies however,

have been limited in ascertaining why students misbehave.

Teaching factors pertinent to student misbehaviour are categorised by ineffectual

educative practices and apathetic implementation of instructional approaches (Sueb & Izam,

2016). Demanet and Van Houtte (2012) evaluated whether student outcomes corresponded

with teacher expectations. The research identified there was a perceived parallel between

student deviancy and teacher expectations. Students’ cognitive outcomes are adversely

affected as teacher associations coincide with student feelings of perceived support and

futility. Subsequently supporting Demanet and Van Houtte (2012), research by McGrath and

Van Bergen (2015) indicated the importance of the teacher-student relationship on aspects of
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social, academic, emotional and behavioural development. The factors surrounding

relationships were most salient in influence of student outcomes.

Cangelosi (2013) made the distinction that the “misbehaviour, not the student, is the

problem.” Although seemingly inconsequential, student perception of themselves as a

“behaviour problem” will characteristically protect their self-efficacy with this label.

Ultimately, the literature has mostly affirmed teaching limitations as requisites to

student misbehaviour.

Section Two:

All interviewee’s were willing participants. To allow for informed consent, respondents

were not expected to sign the participant consent form until they had read and considered the

potential implications before data collection could begin. Participant anonymity will be

maintained throughout, with pseudonyms for analysis reference and utilisation of private

areas for questioning.

Table 1: Interviewee participants

Participant Gender Age Perspective

A Male 24 Pre-service teacher

B Male 34 Parent

C Male 46 Teacher

D Female 21 Nurse Cadet

E Female 29 Physiotherapist

F Female 51 Learning Support Officer


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The prevalent themes of the interviews were: attention seeking, disengagement and

teaching factors.

Theme One: Attention Seeking

Aspects of attention seeking were dominant in five out of six interviews (A; B; C; D; F).

“C,” a teacher, implied attention seeking can causally be related to avoidance of work. This

refusal was also inferred as a link to cognitive ability: “some kids just can’t be bothered doing

their work, [so they] then carry on disrupting others. It’s more of an excuse than actually

admitting they need assistance.” Participant “F,” a learning support officer, supported this

claim: “… often students will act out if the work load becomes too intense … it’s basically a

defence mechanism to admitting they can’t handle the work.” The suggestion of a lack of

cognitive ability proposes an affect upon engagement.

Theme Two: Disengagement

Within four out of six interviews (A; C; E; F), the concept of disengagement was

presented. Participant A, a pre-service teacher, made an inference based upon professional

practice in a secondary high school: “… it was difficult to understand why the teacher had

one activity planned for the lesson, students were misbehaving halfway through, and

unfortunately, it was the students who were reprimanded, not the teacher’s failure to

prepare.”
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Theme Three: Teaching Factors

Half of those interviewed (A; C; F) implied the teacher-student relationship as a critical

factor in student behaviour management. Participant “F” stated: “… students misbehave, but

they can be redirected… Particular students will only respond [change negative behaviour] to

certain teachers purely because they like them.” This was further reiterated by participant “C”

as students with negative relationships with him, were often the ones who misbehaved. This

connotation came with numerous examples: “… [I] built a rapport with a group of year nine

boys, they were good kids… they weren’t performing in assessments, so it [schooling policy]

meant I couldn’t take them to football carnivals, they didn’t want much to do with me after

that.”

Section Three:

The predominant theme was ‘attention seeking.’ Most participants, either directly, or

indirectly, implied attention seeking as a catalyst to student misbehaviour. The literature

presented (Demanet & Van Houtte, 2012; McGrath & Van Bergen, 2015) has tended to

denote attention seeking as merely a contributor to student misbehaviour; rather than

recognising this as a façade for an underlying issue relevant to potential cognitional inability.

Insisting Alter, Walker and Landers’ (2013) findings of students becoming “off task” was

relevant in the interview responses. Results insinuated Cangelosi’s (2013) distinction of

problematic behaviours as being extrinsically justified. Participants suggested that

misbehaviour was a direct relation to an inability to complete the classwork presented.

Justifiably, the onus of dual-responsibility by both the teacher and student is paramount to

student management (Cothran, Kulinna & Garrahy, 2009; Sullivan, Johnson, Owens &

Conway, 2014). In this context, students must attempt to administer forms of assistance
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before going “off task,” whilst connotatively, teachers must aim to manage student

interaction with the curriculum. Student engagement is largely dependent on task difficulty

and appropriateness of skill level (Shernoff, Csikszentmihalyi, Schneider, & Shernoff, 2014).

Critically however, the research denotes that the teacher must determine the appropriateness;

rather than provide a method of identifying the degree of student skill.

The approach of ‘affective education’ by Watkins (2006), explores the’ affect’ as a

facet of Deluzian/Spinozistic view of force and capacity. Within education, this pedagogical

concept explores Spinoza’s (Jonas, 1965; 1986) psychophysical parallelism and Vygotsky’s

‘zone of proximal development’ (Wass & Golding, 2014; Velasquez, West, Graham &

Osguthorpe, 2013). Watkins (2006) concept of psychophysical parallelism, where cognitive

and physical dimensions of learning occur simultaneously, as a necessitation in understanding

student misbehaviours related to intellectual ability. Vygotsky’s ‘zone of proximal

development’ additionally concurs within affective education as it posits what a learner can

do without assistance, contrasting with what a learner cannot do. Participant “A’s” personal

account of working in school’s: “There was one fella [boy] who would just talk non-stop in

class … and he was struggling with the classwork , but because of his behaviour the teacher

almost refused to help him … counterproductive to what the misbehaviour was for…”

Disengagement and its effects on behaviour was the second key theme retrieved from

the interviews. Montuoro and Lewis (2017) identified the malleable nature of student

engagement. The research emphasised how personal responsibility is inversely associated to

behavioural disconnection. Haydn (2012) identified boredom as the major contributing factor

to disengaged students. The recommendation presented was to integrate a differentiation for

diverse learning needs. Participant “E,” a physiotherapist, noted boredom in the statement:

“[maybe] they’re just bored? … They’re not doing what they find fun, so they find something
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different to do.” This expression identified the concept of applicability within disengagement.

If the student does not find the relevance in the learning intentions, they will thus become

disengaged (Montuoro & Lewis, 2017; Macklem, 2015). Montuoro and Lewis (2017) suggest

that student misbehaviour, linked to the attribution of boredom; aims to alleviate the tedium

by instigating the fun the curricular choices failed to provide. By extending this, the research

states that misbehaviour is a societal construct to increasing popularity among peers.

The third theme of teacher factors mainly surrounded the teacher-student relationship.

Rogers’ (2015) research highlighted student misbehaviour as being dependent upon the

teacher. Student misbehaviour, as indicated by participant “C,” can be subjected to negative

connotations if an experience, or relationship has been affected.

A notion centred on student-teacher relationships by Kit, Liem, Ang, Chong and

Huan, (2016) provides emphasis of teacher characteristics of encouragement and care,

facilitates the students’ individual expectations of success; whereas, if a teacher presents

negative or critical feedback, a students’ adaptive functioning is hindered. Davis (2003)

extends this finding by correlating positive relationship between teachers and students

permits a greater degree of emotional, social and cognitive self-regulation skills. No

interviewee’s suggested any form of impact upon positive teacher and student interactions.

Contextual impacts such as occupation derived the most corresponding responses as

participants who intend, or currently work within the education system have been able to

elicit similar responses to the literature.


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Section Four:

The analysis identified three contributing factors to student misbehaviour. The themes

included: attention seeking, disengagement and teaching factors. All themes were broad

terminologies that encapsulated connotated aspects.

Attention seeking was thematically presented as a factor of misbehaviour. However,

as the analysis suggests; attention seeking is manifested in variant justifications such as

cognitive inability and social status. Alter, Walker and Landers’ (2013) definition of “off

task,” by means of attention seeking behaviours as a means to avoid classwork as this merely

identified the behaviour, and did not extend into an associative justification as to why; which

is inconsistent with Carr and Durand’s (1985), and Montuoro and Lewis’(2015) research in

the same area. Cangelosi (2013) extended this justification, by correlating choices to

misbehave with an inability to complete set tasks.

In relevance to the findings, having an awareness of the reasoning behind attention

seeking behaviours will be an influential factor in classroom management. Teacher benefits

of understanding classroom ecology (Sullivan, Johnson, Owens & Conway, 2014) is

influential on student engagement and therefore, behaviour; as an alternative to ‘fixing’

unproductive behaviours.

Effectual teaching practice and administration of differentiated learning strategies to

cater to diversified learning needs can be implemented. For example, if task avoidance

persists, identify the students’ cognitive level. If the course work is too difficult, aim to

simplify, or modify the teaching strategy i.e.: create visual aids for visual learners, or,

implement movement and practical tasks for kinaesthetic learners.


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A whole school approach embodies all facilitating aspects within the school. The

application of diversified learning strategies might have its complexities across the schools

population. Therefore, implementation of student support officers for students with task

avoidance will be beneficial.

Attribution of increased social status derives potential misbehaviour actions

(Montuoro & Lewis, 2017). The instigation of becoming disengaged as a way to alleviate

boredom among peers extrinsically motivates students. Berger and Palacios (2014) refer to

Machiavellianism as a characteristic of individuals engrossed in their personal interests, that

they will dissuade others in order to accomplish this objective. The intrinsic increase of self-

esteem further drives students to offset completing tasks and disrupting the classroom (Gest,

Madill, Zadzora, Miller & Rodkin, 2014; Berger & Palacios, 2014).

Subsequently, students who experience boredom are more likely to exhibit negative

behaviours. Boredom can be minimised if the student comprehends the learning intention.

Montuoro and Lewis (2017) and Macklem (2015) respectively identified misbehaviour as

being connotated with incapacity to identify the relevance in learning schemes.

To manage this explicitly, teachers must introduce the learning intention at the onset

of the lesson – to enable students to progressively comprehend the learning process.

Furthermore, teachers who experience “off task” as a result of boredom can implement task

based learning strategies to attempt to limit deviance by implementing Kahoot Quizzes, or

other forms of cooperative learning such as group tasks and presentations.

Reflective practices are the onus of the educator, as reflecting upon positive and

negative lesson activities will ultimately quantify which activities to apply, and which to

avoid in impending teaching directions. A whole school endeavour would be to suggest an

intervention program for teachers who focus on analysis and problem solving during the
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initial stages of instruction, and the utilisation of diverse instructional learning formats in

order to increase student engagement and teacher professional development (Gregory, Allen,

Mikami, Hafen & Pianta, 2014).

Teaching factors such as the teacher-student relationship are persistent in educational

contexts. The relationship itself is an amalgamation of external contact and an awareness of

inner processes. As Korthagen, Attema-Noordewier and Zwart (2014) acknowledged, the

process of external contact must be perceived as self-reinforcing and reciprocal. The two-way

interactive process influences student and teacher emotional, cognitive and behavioural

responses (Wilkins, 2014; Furrer, Skinner & Pitzer, 2014).

A teacher’s capability to attend to, analyse and respond to student interactions

internally and externally from the classroom will amplify the teacher-student relationship

(Barnhart & van Es, 2015). If capable, a teacher will be able to accurately acknowledge

student ability and therefore cater the lesson appropriately (Mcgrath & Van Bergen, 2015).

The suitability of pedagogy is heavily reliant on a teachers’ ability to understand student

ability and necessitation of learning diversification in maintaining engaging lessons.

As a whole school, adhering to the AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching and

School Leadership) guidelines is paramount. The Professional Standards for Teachers

comprise of elements directly related to teacher interactions which are inclusive of, but not

limited to: knowing students and how they learn and knowing the content and how to teach it

(AITSL, 2014). Adherence can be proactively focusing on an inclusive curriculum, where

students present a larger likelihood of engagement if instruction is targeted and linked to

academic outcomes.
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