The Factors That Contribute To Effective Behaviour

In many studies one’s motivation in learning science has been noted as s key
impediment in efficiently managing student behaviour
in secondary school. Lack of motivation
of students results in a failing
to succeed academically, primarily in two important ways.  Firstly, a student can be disengaged from the outset
because they fail to see the importance of the subject matter; where students might be motivated at
first they can become demotivated in course due to disinterest. This demotivation thereafter results
in absenteeism; a lack of cognitive
focus in class; unconstructive
attitude to learning and a lack
of student engagement (Hampden-Thompson & Bennett 2013). Consequently, to better
understand the factors which contribute to reductions of motivation for
learning science in Secondary schools need to be better considered so that
effective interventions and changes in instructional practices can be put in
place to shift the attitudes and beliefs of students towards more positive learning

Behaviourists define motivation
as a set of biological and psychological processes that facilitate the
triggering of action in its orientation, intensity and persistence. One’s own perception of one’s self and his
environment is intrinsically tied into the construal of motivation. It is this
which presses on him a
choice of activity, to engage in and persevere in accomplishing a task and thus
arrive at intended goals (Brophy, 2013). Unfortunately,
this aspect of motivation as per behavioural management is oftentimes

As a trainee teacher, the factor I am
challenged to consider is whether motivated teaching in science improves student’s behaviour and thus lead to
a more enhanced understanding of learning,
and whether it increases the desire to learn.
At the core of this study is the examination of factors which might play an
important role in effective behaviour
management in science classroom. In light of this,
observations were made about learning how authoritative literature on
motivation in secondary science education ties in with the actual
classroom practices. These observations were essential to deliberating on how
motivational practices and academia overlap.

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Orientation Framework for Science Students

Many scholars such as Niemi et
al (2014) and Reeve (2004) have
discussed the dynamic of student motivation and its connection to interest in
science. An obvious impediment to disinterest is that while students do find science-related issues
important in general, many do not have a liking for science courses at secondary school and do not envision
for themselves a science-based career in their future (Hampden-Thompson & Bennett, 2013; Long et
al, 2010; Gravey, 2014; Han et al, 2015). Students can also hold to negative
stereotypical ideas about science-based occupations or do not associate the
study and profession with any appealing role models (Mujtaba and Reiss, 2014; Potvin & Hasni, 2014).  

Perhaps the five most
well-known principles of student motivation are those espoused by Seifert (2004):  

• Higher levels of achievement values
• Higher levels
of interest and intrinsic motivation
• Adaptive attributions and control beliefs
• Achievement goals which seek to motivate and direct
• Adaptive self-efficacy and competence beliefs

There is some overlapping between Seifert’s
principles and some discussion of the motivational framework which some researchers have
developed. This is quite expected
because Seifert’s work is based on the Information
Processing School in which a top-down model
structure of psychological constructs in cognitive and educational
psychology theories is drawn upon. Another approach,
adopted by other researchers, considers the Student Approaches Learning (SAL) tradition which is conversely based on a bottom-up approach, stemming from interviews with students for
example, about their personal motivations and other learning processes.

Nowadays there is a growing idea and belief that if teaching
is done on the premise that students can be high achievers both academically and
socially, this sense of student empowerment will result in better behaviour and
performance in school. This
approach, however, based on teacher expectation of students, might be read as
an oversimplification of a more complex process.
It also, conversely, states what is otherwise an obvious teacher-student
consideration – that teachers will quite naturally expect good standards from

The Factors That Contribute To
Effective Behaviour Management


key factors that have been identified as having a considerable bearing on effective
behaviour management involve the provision of incentives – rewards, extrinsic
rewards, autonomy support and enhancing engagement. These determinants offset
the kinds of challenges that demotivate students and consequently result in
negative behaviours in science classrooms at KS3 and KS4 levels.  

Rewards and Sanctions:

In light of the aforementioned incentive building methods,
it has been evidenced (Maguire, Braun & Ball, 2015) that the use of a
reward-based system does have a positive effect on student behavior whilst
punishments were shown to be far less affective.  The pupils assessed in one study (Payne,
2015) however revealed cases of three times as many occasions of meting out of
punishments as opposed to rewards. A similar trend was reflected in the cases
of verbal disapproval as opposed to verbal approvals. Maguire, Braun & Ball (2015) draw on the rewarding of behaviors
which have a direct relationship on their environment. In a school setting
these include four categories which Payne (2015) identifies:
1. Material rewards (e.g., prizes, trophies, badges).
2. Symbolic rewards (e.g., title, status, houseplants).
3. ‘Assessment’ (e.g., marks, grades, stars).
4. Teacher reactions (e.g., praise encouragement, approval and recognition).

The intrinsic value of a reward based system is that it
also allows a coalescing of the aims of a teacher and the expected target
setting of a student. Students not only draw on the incentive of rewards but
also feel challenged to compete with others who become recipients of rewards.
The studies of Maguire, Braun & Ball  (2015) reveal
a consistent appreciation among second day school students of the effective
nature of rewards instead of punishments. This is shown to often stand in
contrast with the perceptions of teachers. 


Extrinsic reward:


There are a host of motivational factors that will
have a bearing on a student’s attitude and performance. Some of these are
external pressures and they vary depending on their short-term or long-term
functions. A student will be driven to do well academically as a short term
goal and some will consider more lasting aspirations such as contributing to a
body of science-based academic literature. As Potvin and Hasni (2004) reveal
therefore, student progress outcomes stem from extrinsic incentives which are essential
in that a high performing student will be more likely to be accepted for
further studies in a graduate school or similar. These outcomes result from
extrinsic reward since it of course follows that such academic performance
becomes a necessary stage of progress into more grounded academic research.

What lies at the core of extrinsic rewards is the need for
approval, the fulfilment of introjected needs. It is quite common that students
will aim to achieve high to please their parents or guardians, an introjected
need for approval. This could culminate in the seeking to achieve high grades
in secondary school (Niemi et al., 2014) and the specifics of grades might be
generalised later in their careers to impress work colleagues. This positive
incentive can exist together with avoidance-based fears of rejection if they
did not acquire the approval of others (Niemi et al., 2014).

An example of a conceptualisation which seeks to reveal the
collective influence of self-determination categories (SDT) is that of
extrinsic reward proposed by Han et al. (2015). Though substantial research
supports the aforementioned intrinsic motivation model (Hampden-Thompson & Bennett 2013), there are
deficiencies in empirical evidence concerning moderately controlled forms
conceived by self-determination theories. These for example concern
identification and interrogation models (Long et al. 2010; Mujtaba , 2014).
In the study of Han et al. 2015 of a group of secondary students it was
discovered that an identified control produced a more suggestive negative
connection with motivation than a fundamental and intrinsic motivation.


Autonomy Support and Enhancing


What is quite foremost in supporting and enhancing students’ engagement
in class is the provision of an instructional environment which seeks to
inculcate a sense of care from teachers and peers (Han et al. 2015). The
environment would be required to incorporate practices such as both group learning
and independent reasoning (Hampden-Thompson & Bennett 2013). These practices, with instructional support,
can be instrumental in facilitating students’ thinking though their work (Han
et al. 2015) and this in turn can
aid in bettering student outlook towards their science education and
consequently behaviours can improve.

With the rise of computer technology in
the last decades, the place of science education in the frame of computer
technology has provided students with a range of new learning opportunities (Brophy 2013).
Computers have now become an integral and essential part of learning and this
extends too to science education. The new spheres of teacher-student engagement
in computer technology and the new opportunities for student curiosity have
served to reinforce correct and approvable behaviours. Such curiosity and
augmented interest in science education stems from the opportunities provided
to deal with what may be deemed more realistic science approaches such as in
data collection and simulations (Han et al. 2015). 


Teachers recognize that motivation is essential for
learning and therefore want to have motivated students while managing behavior. Over the years, science educators have used a variety of approaches to encourage students with problems similar to a range of students learning science. Factors such as rewards and sanctions; autonomy support and enhancing
engagement as well as extrinsic rewards aid teachers in behavior management
through motivation. Teachers
should indeed use such approaches regarding regular
science classroom settings. Although
behaviorism by no means provides a complete framework for motivation, its management through motivation is useful in promoting science


Critical Reflection:

Rewards and Sanctions:


The laboratory section of the student experience on the date of the observation
was met with less resistance by students. When prompted to move to their lab
tables and work in their lab groups, the students were slow to comply,
requiring a significant amount of verbal prompt from the teacher (Appendix A). These prompts were delivered in a
supportive fashion using positive language, even when it was clear that the
teacher was becoming impatient with student progress. This positivity is in direct conflict
with Payne’s (2015) findings that students encounter three
times as many instances of punishment in the classroom than rewards. Indeed, during the observation,
punitive measures were never undertaken by the instructor. Instead, she spoke to students with a
great deal of support and enthusiasm, garnering their compliance through
treating them with respect and understanding. This
was clear even when students engaged in banter with the teacher; respect was always shown and even
though the students clearly had low
motivation to comply, they did so without threat of punishment. This positive framing of requests
seemed to be familiar with the students and the teacher, suggesting it was
regular practice and not simply something she engaged in for the benefit of my
observation. While my findings
conflicted with Payne’s, the results may have been different if I had observed a multitude of teachers across the spectrum of secondary
school classrooms. Different
teachers are apt to demonstrate significantly different teaching styles, and it
may be that Payne’s work, conducted with a larger population than my own,
produced the statistics on negative interactions because he had more teachers
to observe, more instructional minutes for the conduct of his researcher, and a
wider demographic included in his population.

The reward system in the classroom did, however,
support research showing that students will increase compliance and
motivation levels when clear rewards are available (Maguire, Braun & Ball, 2015). As the teacher moved students into the
lab portion of the class period, she rewarded those who complied and engaged
with more interesting samples (slides) to examine under their microscopes. Some of these were fun in nature,
containing microscopic messages to students that could only be viewed when
placed under the magnifying lens (Appendix A). This surprise engaged students and
motivated them to move through the actual portions
of the lab to complete the necessary work and engage in more interesting and
fun experiments. While this was
no material reward for students, it seemed to motivate them as a means of
making science fun and engaging.

Extrinsic reward:


Students were grouped in quartets at lab tables
for a second observation of work done on cell structure using models. In this observation, students were given pictures and models of plant and animal cells to work with (Appendix B) . They were to then draw pictures of
each type of cell in their lab manuals, labeling the individual parts of the
cells. The teacher also provided
a microscope for students to look at cell structures to compare the actual
structures with pictures and models, and students were to discuss what they
This group discussion often veered off-topic, and a great deal of social
banter was seen. It appeared,
however, that in every quartet there was at least one student who was heavily
engaged in the process and attempting to arrive at the correct answers for each
of the cell structures. These
students sometimes worked independently with their peers and were frequently
used to provide answers to their lesser engaged classmates. Comments were made by some of these
students about the importance of “getting a good mark”, indicating that they
were extrinsically motivated to achieve high marks for purposes beyond the
classroom such as admission to college. This supports Potvin and Hasni (2014), who found that secondary school students were often extrinsically motivated to
engage in their work. Many of the students who appeared to be engaged in their work were males
of specific ethnic groups (predominantly Asian) who appeared to be concerned with the
sustainability of their marks and successes in school. This observation is made because it appears to be in line with Niemi et al. (2014), who found
that external motivation to please parents and others outside of the school community was often a significant
motivator for students from specific groups. However, the observations could be
consistent due to the age groups of the populations studied, and results may
have been different if the work had been done with students slightly older than
the population observed.
Despite the observation being in support of literature, the
correlation does not mean causation. It is worth noting that the pupils had been taught by
three different supply teachers last year. This has lead to the
gap in knowledge and understanding of the topic which has prompted them into
discussion with the other pupils. This
prompted a minimum level of disturbance which was ignored by the teacher. Overall, the behaviour was managed
effectively by keeping them engaged within the lesson. It is hard to
argue that most of the pupils were not extrinsically motivated based on one lesson observation. Some pupils may not enjoy biology but may be extrinsically motivated to excel in chemistry or physics. It could also be argued that pupils were not extrinsically motivated but due to exciting or distraction
caused by snow. 
Potvin and Hasni (2014) research paper is based on meta-analysis of 228 research articles and the review paper conclusion is based on more than 100 observations and wide ranges of data. In contrast, I have concluded based on
one lesson observation at one school. It
is paramount to conduct an extensive research and observe several lessons at
different school to understand the correlation between extrinsic motivation and
how it can help manage behaviour effectively.

Autonomy Support and Enhancing Engagement


In the third observation
of a workbook session, the teacher was continually circulating the room,
providing support for students and asking guiding questions that
allowed them to overcome learning obstacles and lack of engagement, redirecting
them to the pictures they had drawn in their manuals and
experiences they recounted from experiments (Appendix C). She
was always kind and seemed to express a genuine
care for the students and their ability to succeed in
science education. The students responded positively to such interactions and often showed an increased level of engagement for
at least three to five minutes after a direct interaction with the teacher (Appendix C). This supportive
environment garnered a significantly higher number of minutes of instruction in
which students were engaged than would be observed in
a classroom where a teacher was less warm and engaging with her students. This portion of the observation directly supports Han et al. (2015) who found that supportive and engaging
instruction made significant differences for students across subject matter areas and in all
levels of schooling. These students appeared to benefit significantly from
a teacher who understood her role as mentor, supporter, and leader in the
classroom where students were likely to struggle. Again, when comparing my findings with that of the researchers, it is possible that our findings are consistent because they relate to
the same age group of students. Results would differ if a different
age of students was observed. 

Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that Han et al. (2015) research showed low ability student showed significantly higher improvement in
maths with supportive and engaging instructions. There is need of a detailed
investigation in only science subject to support the claim made by Han and his
associates (2015). I would like to have my
observation compared to a lesson where there is less support for pupils and fewer
strategies used to keep the pupils engaged in a lesson. Finally, my finding is based on one lesson observation at one school whereas Han et al. (2015) carried out an investigation at three
different schools. Han and his associates have data
from three different schools enhancing the reliability and accuracy
of their claim.  


The work done in observing this class and in
comparing what I saw to theories and research affected my understanding greatly.Observations solidified my understanding
of the points made by the theorists and how those points may have informed research done to date. While my observations
provided a window into this work,
I believe there is still more work to do to collect sufficient data on which to build
conclusions. Further
investigation would show me whether or not these actions are true in classrooms
of other teachers and demographics, particularly if the makeup of the student
population differed significantly from that observed in this classroom. In addition, my conclusions
were based on only one observation in Cox Green School which is a
co-educational comprehensive school. 
After reflecting on the theory practice, I broaden my understanding of the dynamics that increase student
motivation with behavior management and focus their attention to understanding science lessons and gain their
implication in the proceedings of the sitting. I intend to consider the factors discussed in this paper
when devising my lesson plan. I intend to make students aware of the importance of
working independently and guide them to discover the implicit rule which increases their
chance of success. They must be
kept motivated and have a real interest in their studies; their skills acquired posteriorly must be adapted to their
choice. Hence, devising and
implementing new strategies that minimize the behaviour, enhance the motivation
and keeping the pupils engaged will be a paramount of my
teaching science lessons. If the pupils are kept engaged and motivated, then
the behaviour management issues will directly be reduced. Therefore, it is essential to keep
pupils motivated throughout the lesson and create a positive environment where
the pupils can seek guidance and support whenever there is a dip in motivation. 
The observation of one classroom, even on multiple occasions,
does present a limitation to the study and the usefulness of the data. While this will change my practice, it
would be of greater interest to the educational community to widen the study
and observe in more classrooms so as to round the data with different
populations brining a varied amount of life experiences into the classroom.


As a result of this assignment, I am now more aware of how support, positivity, and a rewarding
environment can make a significant difference between students who are
engaged in learning science at the secondary level and those who view
the course work as a simple necessity to support graduation. When reading the literature on
motivation and engagement, it seemed apparent to me that instructors would
necessarily understand the need to be positive and reward students for behavior
that supported the educational environment. I
knew, however, that many instructors still practiced from a deficit mindset; that is, they viewed
punishment as the only motivator when students were not acting as they wished.
Through seeing a teacher who used her authority
in a positive and supportive manner, I understand how I too can employ such practices in a
classroom setting where students may struggle with understanding the importance of the subject matter. I have now seen that, no matter how difficult
the material may be, students will engage and persevere if they have a teacher
who is willing to allow them to make mistakes and work at their own speeds to
come to a position of learning and synthesis of new knowledge as part of a
group learning and growing together toward a common goal.





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