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Background of Study
The issue of undesirable behaviours among children today is a cause of concern among parents, teachers, governments and even children themselves. This is because in recent times there has been a general outcry about undesirable behaviours among children in the society at large and particularly in schools. Cruickshank, Jenkins and Metcalf (2003) comment that, a common persistent problem among teachers, and perhaps the greatest fear of new teachers, is student misbehavior. This problem has also been found to be responsible for many teachers leaving the teaching profession.
There is the belief among experts that there is a link between behaviour and learning and as such behaviour should not be considered in isolation from teaching and learning (Grigg, 2010). Undesirable behaviours are believed to have the tendency to impede learning rather than promote learning. Other terms used to refer to undesirable behaviours include, abnormal behaviour, misbehavior, inappropriate behaviour, distruptive behaviour, among others. Efforts have therefore been made to develop strategies that can be used to control undesirable behaviours. To this end there is what experts call behaviour modification theories. These are used as guides to control/modify children’s behaviour.
It is worthy of note that the causes of many undesirable behaviours in schools are beyond the scope of the school. Factors such as poverty, lack of social support and parenting patterns contribute a lot to pupils’ behaviours. It might therefore be difficult for teachers to influence such factors but they can seek for ways of controlling them, especially in the classroom. Undesirable behaviours can impact on the efficiency and productivity of the class in a situation where the classroom teacher is unable to maintain effective classroom control. Some common undesirable behaviours among pupils in the classroom include noise making, failing to do assignments, not paying attention, chewing or eating during lessons, missing classes, bullying and lying among others (Machumu, 2011).
The notion of whether behaviour is good or bad is not static because it varies from place to place and from time to time. This is why Grigg (2010) comments that one of the difficulties in assessing the extent of disruptive behaviour in schools is that it is context-specific. Johnston, Halocha and Chapter (2007) also opine that good behaviour in children is not a fixed or definite thing, anymore than the good life is an agreed notion among adults. What we require of children will differ from one society or age to the other; therefore our present expectations must be seen as temporary rather than certain solutions. This is why there have been concerns about standards of pupils’ behaviour. This not withstanding, there are certain behaviours that are actually undesirable especially in the classroom irrespective of the place, the time and even the culture. Therefore concerns about undesirable behaviours in schools are being expressed all over the world today.
A teacher will have to engage in good classroom practices and management in order to control undesirable behaviours among his/her pupils. Evertson and Emmer (2009) comment that for a teacher to sustain good behaviour throughout the year, he/she will have to be actively involved in maintaining pupils’ cooperation and compliance with necessary classroom norms, rules and procedures. Therefore, they suggest four important guidelines a teacher can use to prevent classroom undesirable behaviours which are:
- Monitor pupils’ behavior and academic progress carefully.
- Be consistent in the use of procedures, rules and consequences.
- Deal with inappropriate behavior promptly.
- Build positive climate with an emphasis on reinforcing appropriate behaviours.
An over the world, punishment in one form or the other is used to control undesirable behaviours. However, it is used extensively and freely in some parts of the world than others (Machumu, 2011). This is with particular reference to Africa where corporal punishment is still widely used. According to him, the way punishment is used in Africa is due largely to factors like, teachers do not know any better ways due to low level of education, there are no legal measures in existence to restrain the use of punishment and there is hardly any law prohibiting teachers from ill-treating pupils. If there are such laws, they remain unenforced. It should be noted that corporal punishment which takes the form of caning, kicking, slapping, punching and even throwing pupils against the walls is still widely used all over African schools and even homes despite the existence of certain circular laws and guidelines of corporal punishment in schools.
Strategies that can be used to prevent or control undesirable behaviours in the classroom are many. They range from mere warning to all forms of corporal punishments. The ability of a teacher to use any of these strategies and of course the appropriate one depends on a lot of factors which range from the teachers’ personality, years of experience, the class size, the teachers’ qualification to the teachers’ gender. Johnston, Halocha and Chater (2007) comment that less experienced teachers can learn to go beyond merely imitating what they think they see (techniques and rules) and can learn that techniques work only when backed by inner authority and rules are worthwhile only when supported by understanding and more experienced teachers can understand that what works in any given situation need to be professionally discussed and shared.
This factor underscores the need for teachers to be properly trained especially at the level of teacher preparation/training while in training institutions in good behavior management techniques and skills. This include training teachers on how to apply procedures and rules consistently, handling classroom problems promptly using accepted approach, monitoring disruptive behaviours until they stop among others.
Previous studies on undesirable behaviours have revealed that undesirable behaviours found among pupils in the classroom include, lying, fighting, stealing, cheating, talking without permission, chewing or eating during lessons among others (Gulec and Balcik, 2011; Magela 1986). According to Winzer(2002), behavioural disorders in children occur among the rich, the poor, the gifted, the intellectually disabled, and members of all racial and ethnic groups. It is also noted that children rarely can decide for themselves that they are behaviourally disordered except their parents and teachers determine that. This study therefore sought to find out the kind of undesirable behaviour common among pupils in the study area and the strategies used by their teachers to control such behaviours.
Statement of the Problem
The manifestation of undesirable behaviors among pupils these days seem to be on the increase. Going by media reports, official reports and education stakeholders’ comments, there seem to be an increase in acts of violence among pupils in recent times. These include antisocial behaviours and delinquent behaviours among children and these have brought about unprecedented level of juvenile delinquency in our societies all over the world. Could it be that teachers are not able to control such undesirable behaviours or that the strategies are not effective? An observation of what goes on in our schools today seem to reveal that undesirable behaviours manifested by pupils are to a large extent, either completely unchanged or ineffectively changed. This is inimical to the system because undesirable behaviours in the classroom have the capacity to impede the teaching and learning process if not properly checked. The goal of education is beyond making individuals acquire knowledge and skills but also to make individuals worthy in character. The most conspicuous evidence of classroom management is the kind of behaviours exhibited by the pupils. The moment pupils are seen to be unruly in the classroom, the teacher is adjudged to lack classroom control/ management skills. Thus, this study aimed at assessing the kind of undesirable behaviours manifested by primary school pupils and the strategies used by the teachers to control them in the study area.
The following research questions were raised for the study:
1) What are classroom undesirable behaviours prevalent among primary school pupils in the study area?
2) What are the strategies used by teachers to control these undesirable behaviours among these pupils?
3) What are the possible influences of classroom undesirable behaviours on the teaching and learning process?
H01 There is no significant relationship between teachers’ years of experience and the strategies they used for controlling undesirable behaviours in the classrooms.
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