Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

Teacher/student Interactions and Classroom Behavior: The Role of Student Temperament and Gender

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

Teacher/student Interactions and Classroom Behavior: The Role of Student Temperament and Gender

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships of student temperament and gender to disruptive classroom behavior in urban primary grade schools. Teacher reports and classroom observations were used. Forty-four teachers and their 152 students participated. A two-step cluster analysis was conducted with teacher reports on their students' temperaments. Three temperament clusters were identified: industrious, intermediate, and high maintenance. ANOVAs revealed that, as compared to students with other temperaments, children who were high maintenance exhibited significantly higher levels of overt aggression toward others, emotional-oppositional behavior, attentional difficulties, and covert disruptive behavior. Teachers reported more difficulty managing the behavior of high maintenance students and were observed to provide more negative feedback to them compared to those who were industrious. Hierarchical and logistic regression analyses demonstrated that temperament mediated the relationship between student gender and disruptive classroom behaviors. Temperament also mediated the association between gender and teachers' difficulty managing students' covert disruptive behavior. Irrespective of gender, students whose temperaments were high maintenance and intermediate were more likely than industrious students to receive negative teacher feedback. Irrespective of students' temperament, teachers were observed to provide more positive feedback to boys than to girls.

Keywords: temperament, disruptive student behavior, teacher/student interactions, school children


Dynamic interactions between teachers and their students occur in elementary school classrooms on a daily basis. Whether engaged in instruction or transitioning between activities, teachers and students have myriad opportunities to interact with each other--a topic that has been the focus of numerous studies (Beaman & Wheldall, 2000; Jones & Dindia, 2004; Kelly, 1988; Sutherland, 2000). Overall, the findings show that elementary schoolteachers provide much more negative than positive feedback to their students. When provided, positive feedback is associated with good academic performance. Students seldom receive positive feedback when meeting their teachers' behavioral expectations (e.g., standing quietly in line). In contrast, negative teacher feedback occurs more frequently and is often precipitated by disruptive student behavior.

Gender is frequently associated with the amount and quality of teacher-student interactions. Two meta-analyses have elucidated under what circumstances teacher feedback differed by student gender (Jones & Dindia, 2004; Kelly, 1988). No gender differences were found in the amount of positive feedback teachers provided their students. Ironically, however, girls who exhibited behavior that teachers valued received less overall attention than boys (Kelly, 1988), although the magnitude of these differences were relatively small (d = . 14) (Jones & Dindia, 2004). In contrast, boys received more negative feedback with effect sizes ranging from small to moderate (d = .34) (Jones & Dindia, 2004). The greater amount of negative feedback that boys received was attributed by Jones and Dindia (2004) to the higher level of disruptive behavior that boys exhibited compared to girls. Teachers used negative feedback in attempting to control their behavior (Broidy et al., 2003; Coie & Dodge, 1998; Jones & Dindia, 2004; Rescorla et al., 2007). This assertion was supported by another study that showed teachers perceived their male students as more difficult to manage than the girls (Childs & McKay, 2001).

The modest effect sizes of gender on teacher/student interactions suggest that other moderating and/or mediating factors may be operating (Brophy & Good, 1974; Jones & Dindia, 2004). A competing explanation is that negative teacher feedback results from disruptive student behavior, regardless of gender. …

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