Exploring challenging classroom behaviors from teachers’ perspective: a mixed-method study
 
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Submission date: 2014-11-04
Final revision date: 2015-02-19
Acceptance date: 2015-02-19
Online publication date: 2015-03-13
Publication date: 2015-03-31
 
Current Issues in Personality Psychology 2015;3(1):12–24
 
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ABSTRACT
Background
In order to explore the representation of challenging students’ behaviors through teachers’ words, the present paper reports Italian teachers’ replies to the open-ended instruction “Describe the behavior of the student you find most challenging in your class”, analyzed through a mixed-method approach.

Participants and procedure
The respondents were teachers from primary and lower secondary schools (N = 518) in the city of Milan and in other urban and sub-urban areas of the Lombardy Region, Italy.

Results
Results from correspondence analysis of the open question suggested two main factors. The first factor, labeled perceived willfulness, seems to confirm that in the appraisal of challenging behaviors teachers’ personal beliefs about the origin of students’ misconducts play an important role. When behaviors are perceived as “involuntary” (such as learning difficulties), teachers seems to play a more care-taking role in comparison to conducts that are viewed as voluntarily destructive. The second factor can be described as the impact that behaviors have on the teaching process.

Conclusions
The qualitative analysis seems to accurately capture even the nuances of what is portrayed by the quantitative survey and helps us in understanding why, in other Italian studies, the Weak student emerged as the most difficult student for Italian teachers: if this population finds it difficult to discriminate between aggressiveness, hostility and hyperactivity, then it is not surprising that this last category gains salience and, maybe, over-representation in surveys.
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