Monday, 25 Oct 2004

MEDIA RELEASE For release Monday 25 October 2004 Yelling at students does not improve behaviour Teacher aggression and, to a lesser extent punishment are ineffective in fostering student responsibility, whereas hinting, discussion, recognition, and involvement may be helpful in this regard an educational conference in Adelaide was told today. Dr Ramon Lewis of La Trobe University examined the relationship between Australian studentsí responsibility in classrooms and their teachersí discipline strategies. He was speaking at Research Conference 2004 presented by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). He presented findings from a study involving almost 600 teachers and over 4000 students from 21 primary schools and 21 secondary schools in North East Victoria that investigated the kinds of discipline styles associated with greater levels of responsibility in students. More responsible classes are associated with teachers who are less abusive and punishment oriented and who are seen as more likely to discuss misbehaviour with their students, involve students in decision-making, hint when students misbehave and recognise appropriate student behaviour. "It can be argued that the greater use of strategies such as discussion, recognition, hinting and involvement has resulted in less student misbehaviour and more responsibility," Dr Lewis said. "Teachers who use more punishment, more aggressive techniques such as yelling in anger and class detentions, and fewer inclusive techniques promote more misbehaviour and less responsibility in their students." Dr Lewis said student behaviour may also be influencing teacher behaviour. "When students have more self discipline, teachers may use more hinting, discussion and involvement to provide them a voice since that voice can be trusted. There may be little recourse to aggression because as more responsible students do not confront teachersí authority. In such situations, teachers may consider themselves to be choosing discipline techniques suitable for their clientele." "There is a need to support teachers, so that they can avoid becoming coercive in the face of increases in student misbehaviour and instead respond calmly and assertively while rewarding good behaviour, discussing with students the impact their misbehaviour has on others and involving them in some of the decision making about rules and consequences," Dr Lewis said. "If teachers do not do this, it may mean less student time on tasks, less schoolwork learnt and, possibly more significantly, less responsible students." ****************ENDS*************