The effects of positive behaviour for learning: A school-wide systemic approach aimed at improving student behaviour and learning

Year: 2012

Author: Barker, Katrina, Yeung, Alex, Tracey, Danielle

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Across three decades, classroom behaviour management and teacher stress have been well researched in the fields of psychology and education. Key findings from this research purport that student misbehaviour affects teacher stress, well-being, and confidence, and impedes student learning time and academic achievements (Lewis, Romi, Qui, & Katz, 2003; Little & Hudson, 1998; Miller, Ferguson, & Byrne,2000; Poulou & Norwich, 2000). Teachers are less effective in the classroom when they are confronted with low levels of student engagement and motivation as well as inappropriate behaviour.  A recent study of primary teachers in Western Sydney found that even teachers with a high teaching self-efficacy expressed concern about student disobedience, distractability and disruption of others, as well as less frequent but more challenging behaviours such as physical aggression and bullying (Stephenson, Linfoot & Martin, 2000). Focus group discussions conducted by Department of Education and Community (DEC) Western Sydney Region (WSR) in 2004 revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the ways that behaviour problems in schools were being managed. To address this, the DEC WSR implemented Positive Behaviour for Learning, an approach that aims to provide a more workable, positive and sustainable process for improving both student behaviour and learning.

Positive Behavior for Learning (PBL) is a school-wide systemic approach which emphases supporting positive student behaviour and enhancing student learning.  This initiative was derived from the Positive Behaviour Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program developed in the US. Although the major focus of implementation was on student behaviour for both the Australian and US models, PBL in the Australian context has further emphasised the transferability of implementation effects to sustainable learning outcomes. It is being implemented by the DEC in the Western Sydney Region (WSR) of Australia and schools elect to participate.  Teachers are trained and supported across the phases of implementation.  This paper examines the effectiveness of the PBL intervention. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to validate the measuring instrument comprising 9 educational outcomes: school self-concept (cognitive), school self-concept (affective), English self-concept, maths self-concept, parent self-concept, effort goal orientation, planning, study management, and persistence. Analyses compared the pre and post scores from 2 primary and 2 secondary WSR schools (total N = 83) to determine whether PBL effected sustainable learning outcomes.  The presentation will centre on the theoretical and practical implications of the results.  Future analyses will include longitudinal SEM to provide a perspective on the effects of PBL over time.