Chapter 2: Literature Review
Poor student development has been established to stem from the inability of teachers to effectively manage classroom behaviour, also stemming from ineffective instructional strategies. As teachers show a diminished capacity to support and respond to students’ needs, student rates of misbehaviour and poor academic performance will continue. The unproductive, unengaged environment of classrooms run by teachers without adequate classroom management skills results in a need to examine the efficacy of classroom management as a practice in addressing these problems. The following literature review examines the existing literature related to classroom management, providing a definition of classroom management, determining its effectiveness, and finding innovative methods and classroom management skills to help address the existing problems in education.
Classroom management is a system of behaviours and teaching strategies meant to address student behavioural and academic problems in the classroom (Giallo & Hayes, 2007). While varied, classroom management essentially hopes to address the issues of bad behaviour and unmotivated students in the classroom, motivating them into good behaviour, greater fellowship between teachers and students, and better academic outcomes by incentivizing them into becoming more involved in the classroom. These strategies are not uniform in nature, and are not endemic to every classroom management environment. However, many recurring trends occur in terms of management goals (such as behaviour management, academic management, and more) (Monteil & Heuguet, 2001). Professional development programs can be used to help instill classroom management strategies and behaviours to the students, allowing teachers to develop their own behaviour management plans (Giallo & Hayes, 2007).
The social context of academic performance necessitates the creation of an environment that is conducive to classroom management (Monteil & Huguet, 2001). According to social psychology, human beings function most directly as social creatures, making it necessary to examine students in their social context in order to learn how best to manage them in the classroom (Monteil & Huguet, 2001). Cognition almost always occurs in a social context, making the need to understand the way students process experiences through memory and behaviour in order to best manage them. The effectiveness of classroom management lies within the concept of social comparison feedback, which Monteil & Huguet (2001) define as “the involvement of an outside agency who evaluates the individual’s performance, competence, or status, thus placing the individual in a situation of comparison to others” (p. 368). To that end, social comparison is one effective method of classroom management, as it forces students to compare their behaviour with that of the teacher and their own peers to determine if their behaviour is appropriate or not.
One potential method of applying classroom management in a student learning setting is a whole-school approach, in which diversity is recognized and the goal is to cater to the needs of all students comprehensively, regardless of disability or special needs (Rogers, 1995). There are typically three layers to this approach: first, all students must receive effective differentiated teaching, applying a basic to learning that is customized to all students, even those who require additional assistance. Next, students receive focused teaching to allow expectations of academic performance to be met with each level of scaffolded instruction (Rogers, 1995). Finally, the most intensive layer involves directed instruction for the remainder of students who perform outside the average expectations for learning areas, whether above or below. By providing this whole-world approach, a comprehensive method of classroom management can be achieved.
For a more specified and targeted approach to students who are not performing up to expectations, the umbrella approach can also be used in a classroom management platform (Stevens & Lingo, 2013). The umbrella approach provides a systematic method of determining how students respond to classroom management routines, allowing the teacher to easily determine who responds to those procedures and who does not. This method is useful, as it functions well as a metric for determining the extent to which these initiatives are successful, thus allowing teachers to adjust their practices as needed (Stevens & Lingo, 2013).
Person-centered classroom management is another facet of the discipline that provides an alternative to the traditional model of classroom management, which primarily involves person-directed discipline instead of this responsibility being solely focused on the teacher (Jerome & Lamb, 2009). This style of classroom management places a large emphasis on social-emotional interactions and a deep connectedness with school culture, as well as a focus on student self-discipline and positive classroom environment (Jerome & Lamb, 2009). With the cultivation of a person-centered classroom, there is a greater focus on high achievement, and a more positive learning environment is found than in traditional teacher-centered classrooms. As opposed to traditional classroom management environments, in which the teacher is the main focus of discipline and control, the teacher facilitates a more social environment that may make students more comfortable and willing to learn.
Data-based decision making (DBDM) is a more empirical approach to classroom management, in which institutional practices and data monitoring is used to determine the effectiveness of classroom management – essentially becoming a more objectively-minded form of the umbrella approach to classroom management (Gage & McDaniel, 2012). The use of DBDM is indicated to be incredibly effective at objectively determine the nature of classroom behavioural problems, thus making it easier to find management solutions and test their effectiveness (Gage & McDaniel, 2012). DBDM can be used in conjunction with the aforementioned methods of classroom management, essentially offer a more data-based approach to determining the efficacy of selected initiatives.
Need for Classroom Management
The need for classroom management is great when considering the negative effects of poor classroom management on both students and teachers. Poor student behaviour can lead to reduction in student learning opportunities and lesson delivery in students, and also cause greater teacher burnout and low morale within the classroom environment (Giallo & Hayes, 2007). Of crucial importance is evidence-based practices for classroom behaviour management, as they provide some of the most effective measures for affecting positive changes in classroom environments (Poduska & Kurki, 2014). Currently, many students suffer from deficits in behaviour and academic outcomes due to a variety of factors, including gender-divided reading preferences and attitudes, as well as poor incentive for citizenship education due to social factors (Griva, Alevriadou & Semoglou, 2012). These students particularly suffer from a challenge to authenticity in classroom environments, not relating to teachers as authentic human beings but as strict taskmasters dedicated to following curricula and not adequately considering student’s preferences and barriers to entry (Griva, Alevriadou & Semoglou, 2012). To that end, the need for proper classroom management is great.
There are even greater sociopolitical ramifications to an unengaged student body outside the classroom – democratic citizenship is another vital component of education that can only come from a properly engaged classroom. Classroom management can provide students with the ability to learn about civic engagement, politics and democratic education that they may not receive otherwise (Harriger & McMillan, 2008). This occurs through two major methods – moderator training, in which the importance and benefits of mental and cognitive deliberation are instilled in students by instructors, and framing, in which issues are placed in proper sociopolitical contexts, making them more relatable for the students as a whole (Harriger & McMillan, 2008). Cultivation of these two skills occurs largely in the classroom for many students of college age, as it provides an avenue to practice deliberation skills in a safe space before taking them into the public sphere. Therefore, it is of central importance to teachers that they use classroom management skills to cultivate this sense of democratic citizenship, as they carry a vital role in instilling these values to their students.
Behaviour management is one of the fundamental aspects of classroom management, itself being a psychological method to use techniques of ‘rational choice’ to lessen instances of classroom conflict (Funnell, 2009). Order and discipline in school classrooms is a high priority for teachers, as students with behavioural problems can significantly interfere with the proper operation of a classroom setting (Giallo & Hayes, 2007). Poor behaviour in students is specifically identified with several symptoms, including (but not limited to) an inability to concentrate, calling out, noncompliance, poor listening, being inattentive in class, providing disruption of class activities and responding negatively to reprimanding (Giallo & Hayes, 2007).
Teaching and Implementation of Classroom Management
In order to provide classroom management skills for teachers, a number of methods can be reliably used and have been tested in the field of education. One of the most intriguing and common is peer coaching, in which two or more teachers collaborate and discuss their current practices, provide instruction and mentoring for each other, and work together to solve classroom behavioural problems and develop new skills in the workplace (Arslan & Ilin, 2013). This provides a concrete, systematic approach to allow colleagues to help each other with their professional development, particularly in terms of developing the skills, techniques and strategies needed to better manage their classrooms. Peer coaching offers feedback that comes from a person of equal importance within the school environment, making teachers more receptive to these teaching as they are allowed to mentor and critique their fellow teachers as well (Arslan & Ilin, 2013). Skills referenced in peer coaching often involve lesson design, cultivating positive atmospheres in the classroom, time management and improving student participation in class activities (Arslan & Ilin, 2013).
Peer coaching and teaching, and the use of self-study, has been proven to be a common method of classroom management education (Garbett & Ovens, 2012). Self-study involves the shifting of the researcher’s perspective from the external study of practice to investigation of one’s own practice, with the goal of offering “a means to consider the tacit and personal practical knowledge that is central to an individual’s knowledge and understanding of teaching” (Garbett & Ovens 2012, p. 44). Self-study and peer-teaching provide effective avenues for discussing issues of authenticity and safety, as teachers learn to treat their students with a greater sense of equality and honesty (which then makes them more receptive to classroom activities and less likely to commit bad behaviour) (Garbett & Ovens, 2012).
Implementing specific strategies to classroom management has been found to have tremendously positive outcomes in academic and behavioural categories. Poduska & Kurki (2014) demonstrated the efficacy of a training/support model for the Good Behaviour Game (GBG), which provided a more controlled classroom environment. Implementing the GBG in an elementary school setting proved to have substantially positive outcomes for these students up to young adulthood – improvements included lower drug and alcohol use, less reliance on school-based mental health services, and fewer attempts and ideation of suicide (Poduska & Kurki, 2014). Teacher evaluation of progress in classrooms is equally as important as studying student behaviour. Finding observational assessments and metrics by which the classroom instructional and behavioural management practices of teachers are evaluated is decidedly crucial to determine whether or not instructors are utilizing sound classroom management strategies to influence their students’ behaviour (Reddy et al., 2013).
One particular challenge to teaching proper classroom management involves the common misconceptions many teachers have about the practice, which can negatively affect classroom outcomes. First, while management is an important part of teaching, it is not more important - effective teaching requires effective management skills, used in tandem to reinforce each other (Englehart, 2012). Furthermore, there is not an entirely subjective assessment of what works for each individual teacher; effective teachers and managers all have some basic common traits, such as healthy emotional intelligence and a general sense of stable self-image. Just reinforcing boundaries and clearly communicating is not enough, as students often lack the social skills to fully recognize the consequences of their actions. Relationships are important to successful teacher-student interactions, but they are not the sole, ultimate requirement for effective classroom management (Englehart, 2012). Furthermore, it is always possible to change a student’s behaviour, despite many teacher protestations that students’ poor home lives irrevocably damage student behavioural norms (Englehart, 2012). Dispelling these many myths about classroom management is necessary to successfully teaching instructors how best to use these skills in a positive way in the classroom.
Effectiveness of Classroom Management
The effectiveness of classroom management varies by degrees based on many factors, including the audience, student body, and education/capabilities of the teacher in question (Hochweber, Hosenfeld & Kleime, 2014). Classroom management strategies have been shown to be largely effective in managing behaviour and increasing academic outcomes, though much more for teachers than students (Giallo & Hayes, 2007). Research indicates that the application of behaviour management strategies based in professional development lead to a perceived increase in teacher understanding of child behaviour and behaviour management, as well as provides greater self-reflection to let the teachers more concretely examine their own behaviours. However, while teacher confidence and morale may improve with the application of behaviour management skills, these changes may not lead to equivalent improvements with students (Giallo & Hayes, 2007). To that end, teacher satisfaction may be an inadequate indicator of successful classroom change; however, the improvement in teacher skills is still admirable, particularly when professional development and classroom management skills are provided with a component to permit teachers to self-reflect.
Some research argues that the implementation of behaviour management can be ineffective, and actually lead to exacerbated instances of misbehaviour; according to Funnell (2009), behaviour management on its own results in a further lack of respect for teachers by students, as poor educational outcomes and high emphasis on behaviour control leads to a culture in which students are encouraged to misbehave. In order to best facilitate proper classroom management, Funnell (2009) notes the need for the consideration of three factors: the vehicle of classroom interaction, how learning disengagement affects the institution, and the way this leads to the conflicting expressions of order from the official rule of the school and the student. This can be actualized in either proactive (positive) or reactive (negative) strategies; classrooms in which reactive strategies were used for problem behaviour resulted in the teachers having a lesser disposition to change their classroom management strategies to stave off problematic behaviour in the classroom (Shook, 2012).
In order to address the ongoing problems of lack of motivation and discipline within classroom environments, several solutions have been shown to be effective in the realm of classroom management. Improvement in teacher qualification has been shown to be incredibly important; by improving teachers’ qualifications and training in classroom management, they are thought to be more helpful and effective in implementing management within their classroom settings (Ergodan et al., 2010). The structure and place of the course in curriculum is also incredibly important, as is organizing motivational activities for students to increase their investment in the learning process (Ergodan et al., 2010). Implementing software that controls computer usage in lab and computer settings permits greater management of student behaviour and focus on tasks, and classroom sitting plan reorganization can help to maximize student attention and limit the possibility of inter-student interference during lessons (Ergodan et al., 2010).
One significant factor that is difficult to control is parental education, which has been shown to have a large degree of significance to determining student grades outside the classroom – classroom management itself then becomes a moderating factor between those students with high and low levels of parental involvement in their education (Hochweber, Hosenfeld & Kleime, 2014). Furthermore, coordinating with parents and collaborating on effective study skills and behaviour management has been shown to have a more effective outcome on student engagement than teacher-only classroom management strategies (Ergodan et al, 2010). Ways to incorporate parental involvement whenever possible in the classroom management process, therefore, is stressed as a way to maximize its effectiveness.
Based on the existing research, classroom management is an extremely flexible system of instructional and behavioural management strategies which help to address problems with student engagement and behaviour based on a variety of techniques. Umbrella, person-centered and whole-school approaches have been shown to be particularly effective, as they respectively provide quality control for teachers engaging in classroom management, offer individual assistance to struggling students and offer a systematic approach to apply management principles to an entire school. The need for classroom management is great, as public opinion and research indicates that lack of discipline and misbehaviour tend to be the greatest obstacles to learning that many educational environments face (Jerome & Lamb, 2009).
Learning and utilizing classroom management strategies must take top priority for instructors and educators, as properly trained teachers find greater effectiveness in managing their students and having better command of their curriculum in general. The effectiveness of classroom management on the whole is largely supported by the research, as studies indicate greater teacher confidence and student academic and behavioural outcomes. However, more research is necessary to determine the true efficacy of classroom management, particularly when major strategies for classroom management are compared in comparable settings.
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