Bibliographic Reference: Little, S. G., & Akin-Little, K. A. (2008). Psychology’s contributions to classroom management. Psychology in the Schools, 45, 227-234.
Problem/Background: The purpose of this essay is to summarise a research paper which focused on an on-going problem of student behaviour in classrooms and teacher’s effective classroom management (CRM). The background for this research paper has been brought about due to severe incidents happening at US schools. There was also the added recognition that student behaviour in the classroom was of major concern within the teaching spectrum. Evidence of psychiatric disorders contributing to the lack of discipline were also brought to the fore. This led the researchers to produce a survey looking at the need for empirically validated approaches to classroom management.
Method/Procedure: The method used for this research was in the form of nationwide survey of 149 teachers, mostly women (81%) with the majority being regular teachers with various levels of teaching experience and qualifications who were attending in-service training in science education. The teachers were surveyed on their use of important CRM principles. The categories of CRM regarded the teachers’ use of (1) Rules, (2) Reinforcement of Appropriate Behaviour and their (3) Response to Class Disruption and (4) Response to Chronic Offenders. Each of these categories was broken down into specific items. The results were reported as a percentage of teachers engaging in that specific procedure at school. The survey was piloted beforehand by a group of ten teachers to ensure comprehension. Additional questions were also asked regarding corporal punishment.
Results: The results found that with Rules the majority of teachers (98%) were involved in their own rule making although the majority of teachers said there was a school wide discipline plan while few involved the parents (8%). Teachers’ use of verbal praise (97%) scored high within the category Reinforcement of Appropriate Behaviour. Response Class Disruption was not so high with a verbal reprimand and moving the child closer (both 83%) as methods the teachers engage in. Response to Chronic Offenders also scored lower percentages with privileges revoked (63%) and notes sent home (62%). With regard to corporal punishment, 47%, reported corporal punishment was allowed in the school.
Discussion: The types of further discussion relating to the results of this research start with recognising that the teachers all fully engage in CRM, while on the other hand there was still high priority on having safe and effective schools. The survey also highlighted students wanting attention, be it through praise or even discipline. In addition, there was still a high percentage of teachers leaving the profession because of stress brought on by poor CRM. Furthermore, there was a need for group reinforcement and not solely on individuals. The researchers had to add that there could be a discrepancy with the results and what the teachers stated and reality may not be the same.
Conclusion: To conclude this short piece, (school) psychologists have recognised the need to be proactive in their response to discipline and recognise the teacher’s need for effective CRM procedures with attention to behavioural consultation and effective treatment. Psychology has helped with CRM, but there is still a need for effective training to overcome unruly students and stress related from this.