Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Classroom Misbehavior in the Eyes of Students: A Qualitative Study

Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Classroom Misbehavior in the Eyes of Students: A Qualitative Study

Article excerpt

Introduction

There are numerous studies examining the definitions and range of student misbehaviors. For example, in the United Kingdom and Australia, researchers defined classroom misbehaviors as behaviors which are disruptive to classroom order and cause trouble to teachers, such as making non-verbal noise, disobedience, talking out of tum, idleness/slowness, non-punctuality, hindering others, physical aggression, untidiness, out of seat, and verbal abuse(l-3). In the United States, James (4) conceived students misbehaved when they "either did what they were not supposed to do or did not do what they were supposed to do" (page 9), ranging from fooling around as mild misbehavior to fighting as severe misbehavior. In the Caribbean contexts, student misbehaviors in classroom included those disruptive behaviors which hampered teaching and learning, such as classroom disconformity, verbal and physical hostility, defiance of authority, task avoidance, inappropriate use of school property, inconsiderate interpersonal relationships, over-reactions to normal situations, and technological related factors (5).

While classroom misbehavior is generally interpreted as disruptive and improper behavior that adversely affects the order, teaching and learning in classroom, it is noteworthy that the range of student misbehavior varies across cultures (6, 7). Particularly, as respect for authority, conformity, and obedience are highly valued in the Chinese school context (8), some student behaviors would be considered as problematic or unacceptable in Chinese classroom but not elsewhere. For example, in the traditional Chinese culture, students who kept on asking questions would be regarded as "troublesome" students whereas students strictly followed teachers' orders were regarded as excellent students. However, in contrast to the studies conducted in the Western cultural contexts, there have been very limited research findings on student misbehavior in the Chinese cultural contexts (9, 10), particularly in Hong Kong (11, 12). Therefore, it is necessary to understand more about the definition and conception of student misbehavior in Hong Kong. This need is particularly acute when we realize that adolescent behavior has changed tremendously with the advance in technology. Through the Internet, it does not take long to popularize certain misbehavior in young people.

Against the above background, a recent study was conducted in Hong Kong Chinese schools by Sun and Shek (13), which showed that most of the classroom misbehaviors reported by the teachers included doing something in private, talking out of turn, verbal aggression, disrespecting teachers, non- attentiveness/daydreaming/idleness, sleeping, habitual failure in submitting assignments, and out of seat. These findings suggest that classroom misbehaviors can be defined as those behaviors that involve rule- breaking, violating the implicit norms or expectations, being inappropriate in the classroom settings and upsetting teaching and learning. The findings also matched with the categorization of misbehavior as off-task, disruptive, and unruly behaviors (14). Off- task behaviors like doing things irrelevant to the class learning, or daydreaming and sleeping are regarded as classroom misbehaviors. These misbehaviors would become disruptive if their frequency and intensity escalated. Similar to those obvious disruptive behaviors such as talking out of tum and out of seat, they impede teachers' teaching and students' learning. Failing one's responsibility in handing homework on time, and lacking respect to classmates and teachers by showing verbal and physical aggressiveness are definitely breaking the conventional rules and values in Chinese classroom. Among the various forms of misbehaviors, "talking out of tum" was constantly rated by teachers as the most frequent and troublesome misbehavior across contexts (15). However, it is doubtful whether behaviors considered as problematic, inappropriate, disturbing or unruly in the eyes of teachers are necessarily shared by the students. …

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