CHILDREN AND DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR
Teachers who use competition among students as a way of
motivating them to improve their grades may inadvertently
increase disruptive behaviour in their classrooms.
This was the finding of Avi Kaplan from Ben Gurion
University of the Negev in Israel along with Margaret Gheen
and Carol Midgley from the University of Michigan, published
today, Monday 10 June 2002, in the British Journal of
The researchers examined the relationship between what
teachers emphasise in the classroom, student's goals and
their patterns of learning and behaviour. More than three
hundred and eighty ninth-grade students were surveyed along
with their teachers.
It was found that boys and low achieving students were more
likely to report that they had engaged in disruptive
behaviour. In addition, being particularly concerned with
how performance appeared and compared with others was linked
to a higher degree of disruptive behaviour. Focusing on
learning and improvement was linked to lower degrees of
More significantly, the level of disruption was higher in
classrooms where teachers emphasized appearing able, and
lower in classrooms where teachers emphasized improvement
and learning from mistakes.
The findings could have implications for how teachers deal
with disruptive behaviour. Avi Kaplan said: 'Too often, the
blame for high levels of disruption in classrooms is put on
individual students or on teacher discipline that is too
permissive. These findings suggest that we should also,
perhaps primarily, pay attention to the contribution of
educational practices at the classroom, school and even
national levels to this phenomenon.'