Ensuring that lessons progress smoothly without any disruptions can be a challenge in an inclusive classroom where learners have different interpersonal skills and character traits. Interruptions from students often interfere with the effectiveness of learning and compromise the quality of instruction. Teachers have to apply the best practices for classroom management to ensure that they work with their learners towards the accomplishment of classroom objectives at all times. According to Sakirudeen et al. (2016), this process involves the implementation of proper teaching practices and the execution of curriculum-related activities in the best possible manner. The actions and directions used by educators to develop a successful learning environment are aimed at making students focused, attentive, and on-task, thus being capable to achieve the set educational goals (Blank & Shavit, 2016). A teacher needs to correct misbehavior in the classroom and ensure that the issue does not affect the learning capacity of other students.
Most available educational programs for teachers also focus on the development of capacity to create a conducive environment for students to learn. This objective is required to be achieved regardless of learners’ nature and individual differences. Classroom management is not explicitly mentioned as a performance indicator but rather as the efficiency of learning reflected in the feedback from students’ performance. This factor determines the rate of academic engagement between teachers and learners. There are several techniques that an educator could use to attain effective classroom management. For instance, Mandal (2018) describes good teacher-student relationships, assertive practices, and allocated time as some of the factors ensuring that classroom lessons run smoothly without disruptive behavior from students (51). The research paper questions the classification of classroom management practices and the extent of their efficacy in promoting educational progress.
One factor that makes classroom management challenging is the lack of a unique system for the identification of classroom issues and their contribution to the effectiveness of lessons. Teachers need to understand how their interactions with students contribute to effective learning and come up with strategies that can help to improve learners’ performance under any condition. The higher education systems do not explicitly teach educators how to manage classrooms. Although basics of management are taught, each classroom presents unique characteristics, which make it necessary to modify teaching methods and classroom management practices to suit a particular situation. Therefore, alternative approaches have to be sought and used by educators to ensure that classroom lessons run smoothly without disruptive behavior from students. There should also be an understanding of the impacts of effective classroom management on the outcomes of the learning process. This paper thus attempts to create this understanding and explore different practices that can be used by teachers to ensure that classroom lessons run smoothly.
Learners can distinguish between methods of different teachers and behave differently in the classroom depending on who is managing the class at a particular time. Various studies have been conducted to determine the impacts of classroom management on student outcomes with different findings. For instance, some of them have shown that the translation of teacher training concepts into the classroom is seldom effective. Mandal posits that “There are various difficulties faced by teachers to implement methods, skills, and techniques in the classroom from what they have gotten from training (2018, p. 50).” This fact indicates that a teacher needs to be creative during his/her engagement with students to ensure that he/she transfers knowledge and social skills. The factors that influence the effectiveness of classroom management are teachers’ self-awareness and mindfulness; multicultural competency; efficacy of behavior management; awareness of classroom management; knowledge of the social and physical context in the classroom; regulations and rules; and ecological perspective on classroom management among others (Blank & Shavit, 2016).
Blazar and Kraft (2016) also discussed the implications of student attitudes and behaviors on the efficacy of classroom management. These factors are affected by the emotional support given by teachers and the organization of the classroom. Educators who are effective in achieving better academic performance may not be necessarily effective in accomplishing improved student behaviors and attitudes. These findings prove the multidimensional nature of teaching theory, which justifies the need for alternative approaches to dealing with learners in the classroom set-up. Sakirudeen et al. (2016), however, points out that the techniques used by teachers also influence the achievement of academic performance. Student performances differ significantly based on “verbal instruction, corporal punishment, instructional supervision, delegation of authority to learners (Sakirudeen, 2016, p. 43).” Similarly, Barni, Russo, and Danioni (2018) pegged individual and socialization values on teachers’ classroom management skills. Educators can be classified as authoritative or permissive in their interactions with students, which results in different student perceptions and subsequently different academic outcomes.
In line with the arguments made by Sakirudeen et al. (2016) and Barni et al. (2018), Sieberer-Nagler asserts that for teachers it is “important to perform self and external analyses to better learn their strengths and shortcomings (2016, p. 171).” No distinct classroom management style is suitable for all teachers due to the diversity of classroom characteristics. Therefore, educators have to understand their strengths and limitations to make the best decisions regarding classroom management. In particular, obtaining feedback from students and other tutors is an essential practice for teachers as it is a reflection on one’s work. It is also essential for educators to understand the factors that influence the process of running lessons smoothly without disruptive behavior from students. According to Mahvar et al. (2018), various strategies can be used to improve classroom management once a teacher has understood his/her strengths and weaknesses. Most of the methods require commitment and an understanding of students’ needs.
A positive reinforcement approach is recommended as one of the classroom management strategies. However, it should be coupled with accountability. To do this more effectively, Mahvar et al. (2018) propose the creation of a favorable ground for the prevention of deviation and misuse of the learning process.. In this case, students can be offered awards for doing work well. This method helps a teacher develop the desired values in the class, inspire learners, and improve their self-esteem. Regarding deviation, Niculescu and Frant (2016) also propose the adoption and implementation of a working routine as the basis of discipline in the classroom. Teachers have to design a lesson plan with clear objectives and expectations to prevent conflicts with learners as a result of mismatched expectations. Educators can also encourage students to participate in the development of classroom rules. Mahvar et al. (2018) also propose positive reinforcement and the unity of tutors as a strategy to promote good student behaviors. In such a way, learners will adopt the modeled conduct and act appropriately in different situations. Aliakbari and Bozorgmanesh (2015), on the other hand, propose assertive classroom management as the best solution to student misbehaviors.
Niculescu and Frant (2016) have provided some of the outcomes associated with effective classroom management, including emotional development, reduced behavior problems, increased cognitive growth, and better academic performance. Another study by Blank and Shavit (2016) showed that disruptive behaviors among learners result in declined academic performance outcomes regardless of the behaviors of specific students. This fact is an indication of the need to control learners’ conduct through effective classroom management. While all these articles provide information about specific aspects of running lessons smoothly without disruptive behavior from students, there is still a gap in the literature that needs to be addressed. In this particular context, most of the studies provide neither a solution nor a measure of the magnitude of academic performance improvement as a result of effective classroom management.
To achieve the study objectives as described, the following research questions will be pursued.
- What are the key elements in effective classroom management practice?
- Which challenges do teachers face while dealing with student interruptions in the classroom setting and how do they deal with such issues?
- Among the conventional approaches to classroom management/dealing with misbehavior, which of them can be generalized to all classrooms and how can they be implemented?
These questions will be explored qualitatively based on research findings from interviews and surveys with teachers.
- To what extent can effective classroom management improve outcomes in academic performance?
The second question will be answered through a quantitative methodology that will focus on students’ performance in different classroom management contexts.
To achieve the objectives of the research, a mixed approach to research will be adopted. The mixed approach combines elements of both qualitative and quantitative research to collect data and to come up with conclusive information on the research findings. The qualitative approach selected for this particular study is a survey. The survey will be aimed at collecting information from teachers regarding student’s misbehaviors in the classroom and the teacher’s response to those misbehaviors. Additionally, the survey is expected to provide information on the conventional approaches to classroom management, from both the students and the teachers’ perspectives. For the quantitative research design, a correlational approach with a descriptive correlational design was selected. A correlational study approach is considered effective where the objective is to develop a hypothesis around the relationship between two or more factors without establishing a cause-effect relationship. The data collection is based on observations. In this case, the observation will be conducted and reported by the teachers.
The study will be conducted with primary school students and teachers from at 3 different schools. The researcher will coordinate with the school administrations to allow for a research be conducted in the school environment. The research will be centered on the students and teachers and their perception of classroom management and the issues surrounding it. The study targets 1 teacher in each of the three schools of target. There can be male or female teachers depending on availability. As for students, a total of 15 students will be selected to join in the study as observant participants. Most of the students will be aged between 6 and 12 years of age and will be contacted randomly from among the students in the different schools. However, the researcher will make an effort to ensure that teachers in the sample population have students who are in their classes among the sample population. For this reason, convenience sampling will be considered the method of choice for the study. The sample size has been established following a consideration of various factors namely, the expected margin of error, the confidence level at 95% and the expected proportion of participants that may choose the desired answers. In this case, it is projected that a 50% response rate would be achieved given that the participants will be found at their natural environment (school). The participant demographics will be recorded in more details during the actual research.
The first part of the study is intended to be based on a survey questionnaire. The design of the study questionnaire was carried out following the template used by Sakirudeen et al. (2017). A close-ended questionnaires based on a likert scale design will be constructed for the study. The questionnaire consists of a series of statements to which the participants have to respond to with one of the choices provided by the researcher. These choices range from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The questionnaire will consist of two sections, to which the respondents will be expected to fill in their responses. The first section will be aimed at collecting the demographic information about the participants. It consists of questions such as: Are you a teacher/ student? The respondent is expected to mark his/ her role in the school. The rest of the questions in the first section will be aimed at understanding the experiences of the participants in terms of classroom management and what their roles are in ensuring that it results in strong outcomes for the students and teachers alike.
The survey questionnaire was developed following the principles provided by Rowley (2014) for designing research questions. For instance, the researcher avoided ambiguous or leading questions. Ambiguity implies that the research questions are open to interpretation. This mostly results in multiple probable interpretations, through which the research results can deviate from the intended research objective. Leading questions on the other hand, predetermine the responses hence resulting in biasness. Furthermore, the language of the research was devoid of jargon and colloquialism. The language of the survey questionnaire also has to cater for all literacy levels to avoid misinterpretations by the respondents. The options provided for the participants to select from also prevent double negatives and avoid double barreled questions. According to Rowley (2014), the questions should be designed in a way that is expected to be socially acceptable within the school context. As such, the participants were expected to admit social lapses where they occur and to focus on minimizing bias. To make this more effective, the wording is constructed to reflect a conventional school system, in which the teacher is in charge of the classroom and the students are answerable to their teachers on all accounts. The teachers are also tasked with guiding the students not only academically but also in consideration of their social lives.
The second instrument will be a behavior change matrix, which will be used to examine the change in both student behavior and performance for the teachers. This will be designed as a recording sheet for the teacher to use while observing specific responses to various classroom management techniques. For instance, he/ she would record the student responses to corporal punishment, verbal instruction, instructional supervision, positive reinforcement, and delegation. The sheet will comprise of four columns. The first column indicates the specific types of misbehavior correction that the teacher is most likely to use in managing the classroom. The second column will indicate the frequency of use of each method. The third column will provide observed responses to the method every day, while the last column will indicate the impacts on academic performance of students over the day based on the class work outcomes. A sheet will be used by the teacher on a daily basis and signed at the end of the week.
The actual research is planned to be conducted over a two month period. The study will begin with the development of the research instruments over the first one week. These instruments will then be tested through a pilot study. The objective of a pilot study as reported by Rowley (2014) is to establish the credibility of the research tool to be used. The pilot survey will be conducted with a smaller population size, comprising of only one teacher and 3 students. The participants in the pilot study are expected to give their feedback regarding the effectiveness of the questionnaire for determining the classroom management outcomes in any school setting. The role of the participants in this case would be to answer questions on concerns such as the scope of the questionnaire, the capacity of the questionnaire to represent major classroom issues, questionnaire’s representation of key classroom management practices used by teachers, and the role of the students in ensuring effective classroom management. The participants will give their comments regarding any need for change, which will be followed by the researcher in compiling the final design of the survey tool. Moreover, the participants will also report on their level of comfort with the selected survey questionnaire and whether they considered it as a valid research tool.
The pilot study will be followed by the refining of the questionnaire and finally the actual surveys will be conducted. The surveys will begin with the permission from the different school administrations to conduct the study therein. Specific class teachers will be issued with the questionnaires for their own use as well as for their students’ use. Each teacher will be required to distribute the questionnaires to 5 students from his/ her class. The questionnaires will be collected after two days and stored for later analysis. After the completion of the questionnaires, the participant teachers will be issued with the reporting sheets and instructed to compile them for one week continuously. The sheets will be collected after one week and stored for later analysis as well. The activities of the teachers and the students will be founded and guided by a pre-agreed participation module, to avoid biasness in the issuance of survey questionnaires as well as in the reporting of student responses in the classroom management sheets issued to teachers.
Design and Data Analysis
After the data collection, two methods of data analysis will be used. The first method is the thematic abstraction approach to data analysis, which is suitable for descriptive correlation studies as well as for the survey based qualitative studies. The thematic abstraction approach is based on the distinction of key findings and study objectives into various themes based on findings from past studies. The responses given by the study participants are then summarized under the same themes as the study objectives and explicitly recorded. From there, the researcher is able to make conclusions or draw summaries based on the similarities/ differences between the primary survey findings and the findings of previous studies. In this particular case, data for the thematic abstraction will be obtained from the survey questionnaires as well as from the teacher’s recording sheet. The conclusions drawn from the thematic abstraction should be sufficient to answer both parts of the first research question, which is qualitative and whose objective is to understand the conventional methods of classroom management that teachers use and the most common challenges to classroom management.
Besides thematic abstraction, there will also be quantitative data analysis. The data collected through the survey will be used, based on the likert scale results. A descriptive analysis of the data would involve calculation of the percentages of participants reporting a specific outcome for in relation to the practice of classroom management. A typical representation of the quantitative data would be through the use of charts indicating the percentage of respondents who support a certain response to varying degrees. As an example, the chart below may represent the percentage of respondents and their feelings on whether they find positive reinforcement effective for classroom management.
Figure 1: Positive reinforcement as a tool for effective classroom management
In the chart above, the number of participants who agree that positive reinforcement is effective as classroom management approach towards performance improvement was the highest while those who were neutral were equal in number to those who strongly disagreed. All items on the research questionnaire will be represented in like manner.
While conducting the research, the research will be dealing with human subjects, some of whom are categorized as vulnerable as they are still young. For this or any other groups of human subjects, there are various ethical considerations that have to be made during research. The most important consideration is to ensure there is informed participant consent to the study. Participants should not accept to be part of a research as a result of coercion; rather, they should have a clear understanding of the objectives of the research and their roles in it. To accomplish this, the researcher will first reach out to the participant schools, present the proposal to conduct a study in the school and inform the administration of the objectives of the research. Through the administration, the researcher aims at reaching the teachers and subsequently the students. The research will only go on in the first three schools in which the administration supports the objectives of the research. In those schools, only teachers who agree to the terms of the study will be involved. Since the students are most probably below consent age, the teachers’ consent will be considered representative of the students’ consent.
Another ethical consideration that has to be made is on participant confidentiality. Participants in such studies have some information that is of confidential nature. For instance, information on learning disabilities, parentage and previous child behaviors should not be presented to the public. This applies to both students and teachers, and is considered an essential part of ethical research practice. In the proposed study, all information that is participant specific will be kept in confidence. To accomplish this, it will be necessary not only to avoid asking questions that are specific to participant characteristics, but also to keep records of participant demographics in confidence. Records will be kept under surveillance by the researcher and destroyed upon completion of the study. No data will be disposed under circumstances that unwanted parties may find favorable for going through the data.
Moreover, there will be need to conduct all research under conditions of anonymity. All participant details should be kept anonymous to avoid exposure or victimization. This is particularly applicable when dealing with students. For this research, all participants will be referred to using codes which will be aimed at protecting their identities. Coding participant information is also essential for preventing biasness on the part of the researcher and/ or teachers who will be collecting the survey questionnaires. Anonymous conduct of research also enhances objectivity in data collection and analysis.
From the primary study and the secondary research previously conducted, it is expected that the results will show that effective classroom management requires attention to the student needs, and results in better academic and behavior outcomes. From the teachers’ sheets, it is expected that students will respond better to positive reinforcement as a classroom management approach and will be least responsive to corporal punishment. The results are also expected to show that most students and teachers feel that effective classroom management contributes to greater attention among students and also raises discipline. While these results are expected to be in line with those obtained from previous studies, the sample size for this particular study limits the generalization of its findings. As such, the findings may be limited to theory formulation around working with classrooms consisting of particular age groups of students.
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