Positive Behaviour for Learning: aiming to implement a workable, positive and sustainable approach to managing student behaviour

Year: 2009

Author: Barker, Katrina, Yeung, Alex

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Disruptive student behaviour not only impedes learning outcomes for students but also impacts negatively on teacher efficacy and wellbeing (Lewis, 1999; Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2001). Teachers who feel overwhelmed and undermined by poor student behaviour, low student engagement and motivation are less effective in the classroom. These teachers frequently revert to coercive and ineffective forms of discipline when challenged with difficult behaviour (Lewis, 1997). Consequently, the establishment of workable, positive and sustainable processes for dealing productively with student behaviour issues remains an educational challenge. This research examines the effectiveness of a behaviour management approach adapted from the United States, Positive Behaviour Interventions and Supports (PBIS) into the New South Wales Department of Education and Training Western Sydney Region (NSW DET WSR), which was renamed Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL). Study 1 examines the attitudes of students, staff and parents to the implementation of PBL whereas Study 2 examines the impact of PBL on students’ motivation and self-concept. Study 1 found that teachers implementing PBL had positive attitudes towards strategies of promoting positive behaviour. Parents reported high levels of satisfaction with PBL and there were mixed findings for students’ attitudes toward PBL. Study 2 compares schools implementing PBL (experimental) with schools on a wait list (control). There were more favourable results for the experimental group compared with the control group in terms of: (a) student academic self-concept, and (b) student motivation. Although PBL is underpinned by principles of behaviourism, teachers interpreted and implemented techniques which sometimes aligned with social constructivist principles.