The Extrinsic Motivation To Reduce Disruptive Behaviour

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

There was a lull on the teacher's face as a loud outburst came from the students in the classroom. Some of the boys had used water to wet the seat of one of their classmates who sat in it. He was being jeered by his tormentors which caused him to hold his head on the desk in embarrassment. The boys who had done the act stood with a gleam on their faces as if they had just won the Golden Globe Awards and the girls cheered on. Then Dave started knocking the desk and singing a Vybz Kartel song "Slow motion" as if he was in the comforts of his living room. By now it was really becoming frustrating with the constant disruptive behaviour which the students were displaying in the classroom and at play. After teaching for five years I noticed that the students were becoming more and more disruptive. This fueled my interest to conduct a study to find strategies to control the behaviour problems as these outbursts in the classroom wastes valuable time and is becoming frequent.

(Galloway, Ball, Blomfield & Seyd, 1982) explained that the term disruptive behaviour was much used in the 1970s and 1980s. It was then taken to apply to those unacceptable behaviour which were of somewhat greater intensity than "high incidence, low level behaviour". Disruptive behaviors include behaviours that appeared to interfere with learning, impede instructional delivery, or both. Disruptive behavior includes the student arguing, taunting, name calling, making audible vocalizations unrelated to the instructional task (i.e., singing, humming, and talking to self), making repeated audible noises with tangible items (e.g., pencil tapping), talking to peers, calling out the teacher's name with or without handraising, getting out of their seat and walking up to the teacher during seat work, and waving their hand in the air. The Ministry of Education expects teachers to produce results and as a good teacher one would definitely want to produce good results but can this really be achieved with students having the wrong attitude towards their work and moreover their behaviour. Disruptive behaviour interrupts lessons planned, tries patience, interferes with the other children's learning environment and leaves many teachers feeling overwhelmed, helpless, and out of control. As a teacher in the classroom two of the most common behaviour problem is a child's lack of focus, and the inability to sit or stand for an appropriate length of time to effectively learn. Children exhibiting challenging and disruptive behaviors can require teachers to spend a substantial amount of time on classroom management. Disruptive behaviours in the classroom impact the learning process by taking time away from academic instruction hence the students end up on the losing out on what they should have learnt.

Extrinsic motivation speaks to motivation that comes from outside a person. Factors motivating the person are external, these motivators can be money, grades among other things. These rewards will provide satisfaction and pleasure that the task itself may not provide for the students. When students are extrinsically motivated they will work on a task even when they have little interest in it because of the anticipated satisfaction they will get from some reward. The rewards can be something as minor as a smiley face to something major like fame or fortune. For example, an extrinsically motivated student who dislikes math may work hard on a math equation because he/she wants the reward for completing it. In the case of a student, the reward would be a good grade on an assignment or in the class. Therefore I am left with the belief that extrinsic motivation could be an excellent way of curbing disruptive behaviour in the classroom.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the current study is to evaluate disruptive behaviour and come up with strategies that can be used by teachers in general to solve problems encountered in the classroom.

Significance of the Study

Based on the findings of this study it is hoped that it will provide teachers with a new insight as to how to effectively use extrinsic motivation to curtail disruptive behaviour in the classroom. It is hoped that further knowledge will be gained from this research and will be of use to teachers and other key players in the education system. The key purpose is put these ideas into practice and find extrinsic motivators that students will value and yield results.

Research Question

Using extrinsic motivation to reduce disruptive behaviour in a Grade 5 class?


It is my belief that with the implementation of extrinsic motivators in the classroom it will be effective in helping to reduce students' disruptive behaviour.


Literature Review

According to Cooper (1996) disruptive behaviour is defined as behaviours that hamper the ability of instructors to teach and students to learn.

We must use extrinsic motivators to lead students to an experience that will allow them to develop intrinsic motivation. Disruptive behaviour can waste a great deal of teaching time in the classroom, leading to feelings of frustration in teachers and an increase in academic failure among pupils (Anonymous).

According to Walker (2002), children do not grow out there behaviour problems, they grow into them." There is no longer doubt that disruptive behaviours emerge in early childhood and exhibit moderate stability (Briggs-Gowan et al., 2005; Shaw et al., 2003; Tremblay et al., 2004). These patterns of behaviour often impair developmental functioning (Egger, et al., 2005; Wakschlag & Keenan, 2001).

Disruptive behaviours are among the most prevalent behaviour problems of childhood, accounting for one half to one third of all referrals to child mental health settings (McMahon & Estes, 1997). Within the classroom, disruptive behaviours impact the learning process, reduce instruction time, and make it more difficult for students to succeed academically in the classroom (Luiselli, Putnam, & Sunderland, 2002). Preschool children who display high levels of disruptive behviour are considered to be more at risk for maladjustment throughout their childhood and adolescence (Campbell, 1995), and are more likely to continue displaying disruptive behaviours throughout their school years (Campbell & Ewing, 1990; Egeland, Kalkoske, Gottesman, & Erickson, 1990).

Therefore, reducing disruptive behaviour and subsequently increasing academic learning time results in greater opportunities to acquire academic and social competencies in positive learning settings (Nelson, Martella, & Marchand-Martella, 2002).

The social quality of classrooms is an important factor contributing to the socialization of aggression at school. Accumulating evidence suggests that classrooms that contain a high proportion of disruptive, aggressive students significantly undermine classroom quality by creating social milieus that elicit and reinforce aggressive reactions from individual children, which, in turn, promote recurrent and escalating aggressive behaviour problems in school (Barth, Dunlap, Dane, Loch man, & Wells, 2004; Kellam, Ling, Merisca, Brown, & Ialongo, 1998; Thomas et al., 2006). Such classroom conditions, to some extent, may reflect inadequate classroom management practices by teachers and poor teacher- child relations (Barth et al., 2004; Pianta & Stuhlman, 2004; Yates & Yates, 1990). High-quality teachers manage classrooms effectively by establishing predictable routines, monitoring their students, preventing negative behaviour, and using rules and natural consequences consistently (Yates & Yates, 1990). These teachers also refrain from using authoritarian discipline to address student misbehaviour (Webster- Stratton et al., 2001).

Child attention skills play a central role in promoting behavioural socialization during children's early years in school (Barkley, 2003; Becker & McCloskey, 2002; Moffitt, 1990). The capacity to stay on-task in the classroom, show self-reliance and initiative, and complete work effectively predicts academic achievement and social adjustment in elementary school (Hughes & Kwok, 2006; Perry & Weinstein, 1998).

(Deci & Ryan 1985; Deci et al. 1991; Vallerand & Bissonnette 1992; Frederick & Ryan 1995) argue that being engaged in activities because of external or internal pressures is considered an extrinsic form of motivation. In such instances, behaviour operates as a means to an end and not for its own sake. Deci and Ryan (1985) view extrinsic motivation as a multidimensional construct, as well. Three types of extrinsic motivation are defined in the self-determination theory tradition: external regulation, introjection, and identification (Deci and Ryan 2000). They go on to argue that External regulation is the most representative type of extrinsic motivation. It refers to the involvement in an activity to gain rewards or to avoid punishment. Furthermore, behaviour is the result of experiencing external or internal pressures. The second type of extrinsic motivation, introjection, refers to a more 'internalised' involvement with an activity, one in which the self is more' involved. At this stage, behaviour is not yet self-determined, but the individual is beginning to internalise the reasons for her/his actions. Identification is a more self-determined type of extrinsic motivation than external regulation because behaviours are valued, and considered important and, thus, engagement is perceived as chosen by the individual itself.

Integrated regulation refers to the most self-determined type of extrinsic motivation regarding internalisation. At this level, behaviour is still performed for external reasons, although it is considered as part of the self and goal-directed behaviours may be consistently pursued. The absence of intrinsic reasons is why behaviours, that are the outcome of integrated regulation, are not considered fully self-determined.



This research will be both qualitative and quantitative. The research will be carried out in a school located in the rural parish of Manchester. In examining students' behaviour the need has been found to carry out an action research to combat the disruptive behaviour students tend to display in the classroom. Valuable time is lost trying to curtail the disruptive behaviour in the classroom hence the investigation into the use of extrinsic motivation was deemed necessary to curtail disruptive behaviour portrayed by students.


The research will be conducted in a Grade 5 class. The population of the Grade 5 class is 60 students and the sample size consists of 30 students. The students range from the ages 9-10. The sample consists of 15 boys 50% and 15 girls 50%. Participants within this sample come from different socio-economic backgrounds. 40% of students are from middle class families and the remaining 60% are from low income homes.

Students were randomly selected to be part of this action research. All participants are from Negroid background (African Jamaican). The research was conducted during the Easter Term of the academic school year in the rural parish of Manchester in Jamaica. This research was deemed necessary as students started displaying disruptive and unwanted behaviour in the classroom.

Data Collection

The whole class was targeted as a majority of students were displaying disruptive behaviour both in and out of the classroom. In this section I will use different data collection methods such as observation checklist, tally sheet, questionnaire and interviewing. I will also use journal writing where students would be allowed to record their behaviour during and after class time. I also kept a teachers' journal for recording information that would be of great value to the research.


In carrying out this research a school had to be identified in which to conduct the research. Official documentation was then collected from the college to carry to the school seeking permission to conduct the research. Verbal communication then took place between me and the principal in which I liaised with him and explained the purpose of wanting to carry out the research.

In the first week of the research I was introduced to the students but it was not made known the purpose of me being there as this would skew the purpose of the research. During the first week I also observed students behaviour and conducted interviews with them to ascertain reasons behind them being disruptive in class

The second week of the research saw me becoming more active and starting to implement the first of the extrinsic motivators to curb students' disruptive behaviour. A point system was developed to keep track of students' behaviour. Students would earn points through their involvement in enrichment activities or by doing extra work. I also kept record of their behaviour in a teacher's journal. Students were also encouraged to keep a record of their behaviour on a daily basis. A be behaviour charts was also implemented as behaviour charts are essentially a token system in a different form. The behaviour that was required was stated on the chart this includes spaces that can be marked (or use stickers) every time the behaviour is achieved. The number of spaces determines how many times the behavior must be done before the reward is given.

The third week to fourth week, a variety of strategies is being implemented to extrinsically motivate students to move away from their disruptive behaviour, these include:

1. Peer Recognition

Receiving the support of peers can motivate many people to continue a course of action. Praise and approval is a good way to instill self-respect as well as the respect of others. Verbal praise, such as complimenting a student for their good behaviour, it is a simple and often effective means of Praise and approval is a good way to instill self respect as well as the respect of others. The teacher can explain the reasons for the praising the student thus increasing just how effective the motivation is.

2. Written

The teacher will also wrote little notes or of thanks to students as a form of extrinsic motivation. This is done because written feedback can boost the child and they will have something tangible to show and they will remember it longer than verbal praise.

3. Token rewards

Token rewards are one of the most common behaviour modification methods used by both parents and teachers. Tokens such as stickers, chips, points or coupons are used as rewards with a predetermined value that children can exchange for something that they want. A token economy is one way to motivate children to behave appropriately using an incentive program, and it also can be used to deter negative behaviour by requiring tokens to be forfeited when negative behavior is expressed.

During the fifth to seventh week the teacher will be using questionnaires as well as a combination checklist to record and evaluate information. The following behaviour modification strategies will be implemented during this time span. These are as follows:

Positive Programming

LaVigna and Donnellan (1986) explains that positive programming is identifying inappropriate behaviour and initiating a systematic instruction to achieve a positive, gradual change in actions and attitude, as well as one's thought process. An example would be the requirement of raising a hand to speak in the classroom. Over time, students learn the appropriate action in order to be heard, receptively. Positive programming is an ongoing, consistent and desirable method of replacing inappropriate behavior with a learned positive behavior.


B. F. Skinner (1950) argued that another useful method of behaviour modification is called shaping. Shaping is the development of good, positive habits or strategies resulting in an automatic behaviour change to resist negative behaviour or undesirable actions. In order to train the rat to accomplish the task, any movement by the rat toward the lever was rewarded. Any other movement received no reward. Over time, the rat, through shaping its movements through reward, was trained to push a lever.

In the eighth week students' behaviour in the classroom was observed and analyzed and comparisons made to the first week. Interviews were carried out to see how students rated their behaviour over the eight week period.