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Most Effective Behavior Management Method for Elementary School (Thesis Proposal Sample)




Determining the Most Effective Behavior Management Method for Elementary School (3rd, 4th and 5th Grade) Learners
Sam Houston State University Determining the Most Effective Behavior Management Method for Elementary School (3rd, 4th and 5th Grade) Learners
One of the trickiest challenges that elementary level teachers face is managing classroom behavior. In a survey by the Pearson Education Development Group, it was found that more than half of the polled teachers singled out indiscipline classroom behaviors as the as the most serious problem in their schools (Pearson Education Development Group, 2016). A similar public survey also identified classroom control as the major challenge for lower primary teachers. This problem is partly attributed to the fact that elementary level students have not mastered self discipline and self control within the classroom environment. Disruptive classroom behaviors have negative learning outcomes as they result in loss of curriculum time, in addition to creating a classroom environment that does not support learning. It becomes the responsibility of teachers, therefore, to ensure that students adhere to proper and acceptable behaviors while in class. However, there are various and conflicting theories on managing classroom behaviors, each presenting a different approach. For example, behavior management, logical consequences and assertive discipline models argue for different behavior management techniques. The challenge that these conflicting theories pose to teachers is in deciding the appropriate approach to use in different classroom contexts.
The purpose of the proposed study is to find out whether adopting a common behavior management method will be effective in reinforcing positive behavior among 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students. The need for a common approach results from the possibility that confronting young learners with different and conflicting behavior management techniques can be confusing, and may not lead to the desired results. This is because at their psychological level of development, the learners may not be able to connect teachers’ actions to unique behavior contexts. For example, a teacher may decide to punish a disruptive student by sending him or her out of the class for a few minutes, while another may ask the same student to sit at the front row where the teacher can monitor them closely. It is difficult to predict how the student will respond to the different punishments for the same misbehavior. It is possible that the student will be more disruptive during the lessons of the first teacher because it gives them the opportunity to take a break from class. In this regard, it is vital that the approaches that teachers employ in managing learners’ behaviors have consistent impact on modifying and reinforcing acceptable behaviors. Therefore, the educational significance of this study will be establishing whether using the same behavior management approach will be helpful to elementary level students as they progress through the grades.
Research Question
Would using a common behavior management model be effective in promoting desirable behavior among elementary level students?
Definition of Terms
Common behavior management method: a behavior-management model in which all teachers use the same techniques to modify and reinforce learner behavior.
Desirable behavior: a behavior culture in which learners are self-disciplined in and out of class.
Elementary level learners: 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students, who are aged between 8 and 11.
Model: a theory or concept relevant to a given phenomenon, in this case student behavior.
Review of Related Literature
Current literature on behavior management suggests that there is no fit-it all size approach to managing young learners. Different theories support different teacher approaches to managing learner behavior. This review of the literature discusses the different theories of behavior management, with the aim of creating a basis for arguing whether adopting any one single method would be effective for elementary level teachers in instilling desirable behaviors in their students.
The essence of behavior management in the classroom is to manage learners in a way that supports the learning process. According to Walker (2009), the best teachers do not just teach content, “but teach people” (p. 122). This observation emphasizes the significance of modifying students’ behavior not only to make them better learners, but also to create conducive classroom environments for optimal learning. Students’ behavior is critical to the learning process because it can effect instruction, classroom activities, and consequently, learner achievement. To effectively manage classrooms, teachers need to employ effective strategies for managing behavior, and effective instructional strategies for imparting curriculum content to learners (Marzano, Pickering $ Pollack, 2001). Teachers are particularly concerned about the negative impact of punishments that remove students from the classroom or school- such as suspensions- in their efforts to fulfill the mandates placed upon them by the No Child Left Behind regulations.
However, it is inevitable that students who disrupt learning are temporarily suspended from the learning activity, such as time out measures (Etheridge, 2001). The challenge that teachers encounter in such cases is deciding whether disruptive behavior should be punished through disciplinary actions that remove the student from the classroom or to continue teaching those students even when their behavior affects other learners. The problem with taking the latter action is that the performance of the whole class many suffer due to the indiscipline of one or a few students (Shupe, 1998). As one author puts it, “There’s not a teacher alive who hasn’t felt the frustration of trying to manage a classroom with at least one student who repeatedly pulls other students off-task with annoying, disorderly behavior” (Daly, 2005, p. 9). Research has shown that in cases where the misbehaving students are not handled appropriately, it negatively impacts the classroom environment by encouraging other students to misbehave (Braden & Smith, 2006). Noncompliant behaviors in the classroom affect teacher’s ability to deliver instructional content and guide the learning process effectively. It becomes the responsibility of teachers, therefore, identify and implement effective behavior management strategies to make their classrooms better suited for learning.
The big question many teachers have to grapple with- and the focus of this study- is whether there is any one classroom management approach that would be most effective for elementary school learners. The profile of learners and teaching approaches has changed over the last century, compelling teachers to adjust their classroom management strategies to reflect the needs and demands of today’s learners.
Students have changed over the past 100 years; therefore, classroom management strategies need to be readjusted to meet the demands of a new generation (Bear, 1998). There are two broad strategies available to teachers; instructional and behavior management. Instructional management involve teachers controlling the classroom through the use of lesson plans and teaching methodologies that engage students, thereby creating little room for misbehaving. Through this approach, learners focus their energy on interacting with the teacher and completing classroom tasks. The behavioral management strategy is divided into three subcategories comprising of interventionist, non-interventionist, and interactionalist. Collectively, these strategies relate to how teachers expect their students to behave, and implementing reinforcement measures that promote the expected behaviors while discouraging indiscipline (Morrish, 2000)). Expecting student to behave well in class in not enough- in addition, teachers need to make it clear how exactly they expect the students to behave.
The review of the literature indicates that the key to effective classroom learning is creating an environment that is conducive to learning, through effective management of students’ behavior. However, the challenge is identifying an appropriate behavior management model to optimize classroom learning. The instructional management model emphasizes on the teacher’s ability to plan well and create engaging classroom activities that give students little time to misbehave. The behavioral management model focuses on teachers’ ability to condition learners’ behavior by outlining what he or she expects of the learners while in class. The literature review provide sufficient justification for the study because it will help to clarify whether adopting a common behavior management approach will help elementary school teachers to manage the behavior of learners effectively.
Theoretical Framework
A theoretical framework is the set of concepts that highlights the relevance of a study. The proposed study will be grounded on the teacher behavior continuum model developed by Wolfgang and Glickman (Martin & Sass, 2010). This model views behavioral and instructional classroom management approaches as a continuum that incorporates interventionist, noninterventionist, and interactionalist strategies (Martin & Sass, 2010).
In the context of Wolfgang and Glickman’s model, the interventionist strategy involves managing the classroom by shaping the behavior of students with predictable consequences. This strategy is derived from B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning theory whereby reinforcements are used to encourage or discourage behavior. According to Skinner, the consequences that follow a behavior can shape that behavior either by encouraging or...
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