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Student behaviour has always been a key issue in any school. Pupils go to school primarily to interact with other pupils in an environment that is well suited for study and play. However true, pupils seem to be more motivated in the playground than in the classroom. Behaviour suffers very often when these students are not as motivated as the others. Class behaviour becomes problematic at the very worst as kids direct their attention away from the actual academic demands of being in school.
Teachers and staff of schools are bent in solving such issue extending their control of student behaviour to heights that may not be beneficial to the students, as well as the school. Disciplinary actions, punitive in every sense, are the most likely to be used to correct student misbehaviour. Sir Alan Steer (2009) in his report found that in the UK, in its schools, there is no need or desire to give schools and its staff wider powers but there is a need for a "dissemination strategy" to be aware and to understand the existing powers in school. In his 2005 report, he proposed wider options of legitimate rewards and sanctions must be at hand, all of which properly, fairly and consistently applied by all concerned staff. Same has been suggested four years later (Steer, 2009). Findings have been remarkable in his 2009 report. He reiterated that "clear rules and the consistent application of rewards and sanctions" are vital. He rejects "punitive solution" to bad behaviour. Tough love is acceptable but punitive methods are immoral and socially destructive. Several suggestions have been earmarked so as to implement the relevance of the findings. Steer (2009) reports:
A reward system that is effective and tied to performance in the classroom ensures pupil engagement and better behaviour.
Good behaviour needs to be learned. It is very imperative to teach kids to behave well "so schools must adopt procedures and practices" that will help students on how to behave. All staff must be good role models of good behaviour.
Schools do have policies that reward good behaviour and good work as well. Sanctions are in place to streamline the need for better behaviour but what is left out is how to create and implement appropriate reward systems.
Simple sanctions proved to be more effective than excluding the child from class.
Statistical data on behaviour improvement must be at hand to trace changes and complement future actions.
Praise can be used to motivate students and encourage better behaviour.
Using pupil tracking system to recognise positive and negative behaviour is also efficient.
Motivation and Incentives
Motivation has been long considered as a very important factor in teaching. It is the precursor for successful comprehension of the students. Getting incentives from good work after a motivating discussion is highly recommended. Student motivation is the interest of students in learning or doing academic work; incentives are methods used to motivate students in learning academic materials (Slavin, 1984).
Central to this researchââ‚¬â„¢s objective is to use the motivational effects of rewards or incentives in teaching. It is long known that motivation plays a key role in student achievement. So, specific in this analysis is the role of motivation in behavioural changes of a student in a classroom setting.
Self-worth and Self-Efficacy
In educational psychology, it is standard operating procedure to analyse the intrapersonal behaviour of a learner. His or her perceptions of the self must be taken into consideration in order to find the appropriate solutions to behavioural problems. Self-worth is linked to the self-concept of ability in any school setting (Ames, 1990). It is how a student considers his own capacities with respect to othersââ‚¬â„¢. Self-efficacy is expectation or belief that one can possibly carry out a task. It is task-specific or situation specific. Often, self-efficacy serves as a barometer on a child's willingness to learn, his set of options in learning and actual performance (Ames, 1990). However, age play a role in how students understand ability. Younger kids are more positive or optimistic. They have high expectations are resilient after a failure. They tend to assume effort and ability as the same. Older kids are more negative in evaluating themselves. Effort for them gives them higher chances to succeed but ability is a set of limits. Trying hard and failing are actually threats to their self-concept of ability (Ames, 1990).
Pupils determine self-worth and self-efficacy in relation to their environment. To behave poorly means self-worth and self-efficacy are dampened by the rigidities in the classrooms setting. Otherwise, the pupils are able to cope with its demands. It is here where motivation plays its role. Giving rewards or incentives is one motivational tool. To keep on relaying good behaviour and its corresponding benefits, a repetition of good behaviour is expected to occur. This is what we call operant conditioning or response reinforcement behaviourism. It is the gratifying of a "partial or random" behaviour that which eventually leads to the "desired behaviour" (PBS, 1998; Phillips & Soltis, 2004). This molds future behaviour. If a reward succeeds a "response to a stimulus", then that response is likely to be repeated.
Interlinking the concepts discussed, this paper plots motivation and the self-concept of students in the classroom through the use of a reward/incentive system. Changes from their behaviour, primarily their self-worth and self-efficacy will be carefully studied.
Based on the premise above that rewards play a role in motivating student behaviour, this research is proposing the efficacy of a reward system (that is reinforcing) in different classroom setting and student age groups. With the concepts of operant conditioning, this study is specifically poised to determine how studentââ‚¬â„¢s self-worth and self-efficacy significantly changes (or not) when treated with rewards or incentives. The Steerââ‚¬â„¢s reports confirm the value of applying such consistently.
The research will be using questionnaires and interviews as the primary mode of data collection (Anderson, 1998). The questionnaires will both target teachers and students as its respondents. Data analysis will be primarily descriptive and correlational (Runyon et al, 2000; Kirk, 2007). Descriptive data from socio-demographics will provide the initial analysis. Correlation analysis on student and teacher information from the questionnaires will follow thereafter.
The main portion of this analysis lies on the significant changes of student self-concept as changes in the reward systems are put into place. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) will do a series of significant tests on changes of perception by the students, i.e. self-worth and self-efficacy (as dependent variables) before and after a reward system is placed (Kirk, 2007). Also, the age-groups and classroom setting will be used as independent variables treated against changes in self-worth and self-efficacy.