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Behaviour Management for Motivation

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Teaching
Wordcount: 5402 words Published: 8th Sep 2017

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In this assignment, I will be examining the ways that teachers manage the behaviour of their classes in a manner that encourages motivation. I will look at how difficulties in class are dealt with by observing lessons in low attaining sets. By observing lessons in low attaining sets I hope to see a range of different difficulties being dealt with such as the levels of confidence, resilience of the students and what techniques teachers use to engage their pupils which I may not find as easy to observe in the higher attaining sets. As well as this, by limiting myself to observing similarly attaining sets I hope to be able to compare the lesson observations more easily.

I will be reviewing existing literature around this topic before observing several lessons to find out whether my findings are congruent with the existing literature or not and attempt to draw conclusions from what I find that might benefit my own practice.

In my literature review I will look at the areas of motivation and behaviour management separately before drawing the ideas together with the use of pertinent sources to apply to low attaining sets and the ways in which a teacher might best motivate and encourage their class to learn. Then, using an existing observation form focusing on classroom management I will make notes on both teacher and student actions, dispositions and other classroom events.

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Behaviour management   

Teacher Strategies

Methods of managing classroom behaviour has been moving away from punitive in recent years and more towards positive behavioural strategies (Mitchell & Bradshaw, 2013). Mitchell and Bradshaw (2013) found that the positive reinforcement from the teacher fostered a constructive and supportive classroom environment for the students which Oxley (2015) adds to when she talks about building relationships between students and staff which she posits is highly important to have in regards to behaviour management with more challenging students.

Whilst Department for Education. (2016) advises that it is within the rights of a teacher to impose sanctions on students for misbehaving in school, Oxley (2015) suggests that the most effective strategies are those that include the student in decisions made about behaviour management as opposed to a decision imposed purely by the teacher on the student. Oxley (2015) believes that subsequent punishments may in fact cause more problems than they solve leading to a never-ending cycle of misbehaving and punishment. Oxley (2015) argues that sanctions are a form of extrinsic motivation to change student behaviour yet it is intrinsic motivation which is far more likely to lead to long term benefit which is a point that Murayama, Pekrun & Lichtenfield (2013) also agree with, going on to saying that while extrinsic motivation, which could be sanctions or rewards for the students, may have an initial impact but it is intrinsic motivation that leads to long term benefit. Along a similar vein, Reeve et al. (2004) found that extrinsic incentives may essentially circumvent students’ inner motives, potentially acting detrimentally to existing intrinsic motivation, when coupled with pressuring language.


Hallum and Ireson (2007) found in their study of teachers’ opinions that there was strong agreement with the idea that setting groups made behaviour management easier. Furthermore, when compared with another strong agreement with the opinion that a different approach is necessary when teaching the less able pupils compared to the more able. Some potential reasons for this could be that the level that these lessons are being pitched at is suitable to more students in turn keeping them engaged. According to Reeve et al. (2004) engagement is a predictor of achievement which also matches with the results of a study run on 15-year-old students using eye tracking software (Sajka & Rosiek, 2015). An argument that they put forward was that part of the reason that the lower attaining students scored lower was due to them not being engaged with the work, based on their eye positions and movements throughout.

All together this implies that there could be difficulty with engaging the whole class of students in a mixed ability group which, as stated by Hallum and Ireson (2007), heavily relies on teacher skill in order to be a successful lesson. It is also worth being aware that in the study run by Hallum and Ireson (2007) it was teacher responses that were tallied and as such is entirely self-reported opinion based which means that it may not be the most reliable source or appropriate to use beyond inferring teacher opinions.

Lower attaining groups

Some teachers report that behaviour for engagement can be more of an issue in low attaining groups (Hallam & Ireson, 2005). By looking at the findings of Reeve et al. (2004) which states that student engagement is directly relatable to consequent achievement. Seifert (2004) discusses the self-worth theory of achievement which states that some students may be attempting to protect their own self-worth and suggests that some students may be failure avoidant which can inhibit the willingness to attempt work and can result in negative statements about themselves as well as less sophisticated strategy usage (Dweck, 1986).

The statistical analysis performed by Sund (2009) on a group of more than 80000 Swedish high school students found that lower attaining students performed better when placed with higher achieving students whereas the higher achieving students were observed to have had no significant difference.

Motivation in the classroom

Murayama et al. (2013) defines motivation as a process which instigates and sustains a goal directed activity. Murayama et al. (2013) goes on to conclude that motivation is key when looking at pupils’ academic growth.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Reeve et al. (2004) performed a study where teachers were encouraged to try to support student independence in learning as a method to building motivation. Extrinsic motivation was to be minimised and instead the students were encouraged to seek out the answer more independently relying on more intrinsic motivation which led to more engagement by the students. Seifert (2004) believes that students who are efficacious – such as they were being encouraged to be in the study by Reeve et al. (2004) – are more likely to have positive attributes such as being strategic, self-regulating as well as being more metacognitive which he argues may increase confidence in their own work. Additionally, Seifert (2004) when referencing Dweck (1986) mentions that some students who are not displaying self-efficacy may display failure avoidance which can act to sap motivation to try and is indicative of low levels of resilience.

The effect of confidence on motivation

Dweck (1986) found that the level of student expectation of good future results and attainment were not always correlated. This means that just because a student is confident it does not mean that they will necessarily achieve higher results in fact when directly comparing high and low confidence students Dweck found that the lower confidence students performed better than the high confidence ones. In opposition to this, Sheldrake, Mujtaba and Reiss (2015) posit that overconfidence may still be a positive trait as this may indicate a greater level of resilience in students. Sheldrake et al. (2015) go on to explain that in their findings the level of student confidence was significantly associated with student GCSE maths grades as well as how likely they were to take Mathematics at A level.

In a test on motivation using eye tracking equipment, Sajka and Rosiek (2015) found that those who underperformed versus those classed as “gifted” (Sajka & Rosiek, 2015) spent significantly less time looking at the questions which they took as meaning that the underperforming students were less motivated which could mean that some may have been less confident and were acting in a failure avoidance fashion.

Observed motivation across subsections

Several obvious factors exist that can affect levels of motivation from one group to another. Oyserman (2013) informs us that in their studies they found that for some students from lower income backgrounds education can be affected by identity based motivation. Oyserman (2013) goes on to explain this as students from low income backgrounds can stereotype their own academic ability based on the achievements of others in their peer groups which may lead to a situation where succeeding at school is not congruent with the self-identities that they are forming as they go through adolescence, looking at their future adult selves (Oyserman, 2013). Elmore and Oyserman (2012) discusses when activities feel identity congruent. They argue that when an activity feels identity congruent to a student then any difficulties engaging in the task lead to said task appearing more important making any effort invested valuable, the task is not pointless or impossible. This was demonstrated in studies run by Destin and Oyserman (2010) on secondary students, of whom all participants were aged between 11 and 13, when they found that students with aspirations for future careers that were education dependent as opposed to education independent put more effort into their schoolwork which overall resulted in better results for them.

In a different study that aimed to affect the identity based motivation of a group of 12-13-year-old girls and boys Elmore and Oyserman (2012) showed boys’ and girls’ graphs showing graduation success for either their own gender or no gender identified at all. This study resulted in the students expressing more academic goals which Elmore and Oyserman (2012) postulate is down to a more school focused self-identity which, if correct and representative, shows the malleability of pupils’ self-identity at this age. This showed the students displaying some identity congruence (Elmore & Oyserman, 2012). Despite this the study conducted by Sheldrake et al. (2015) showed that in general girls had less confidence than their male counterparts which was not displayed in results at GCSE or A Level.


I believe that the main point to take from this literature review is that the link between behaviour management and motivation is all about engagement. That through positive reinforcement for decent behaviour, developing positive relationships with the students in the class and encouraging student autonomy in lessons to encourage intrinsic motivation as methods of behaviour management the teacher is well on their way to establishing engagement and motivation from their class. Moreover, having a motivated and engaged class leads to better results in the long run.

As well as this, low levels of motivation and engagement can lead to behaviour issues. Identity based motivation can be very detrimental to students in lower attaining sets and perhaps is the reason why, when placed with higher attaining students, the lower attaining performs better. The presence of higher attaining students in that set and thus presence in that peer group may alter the lower attaining students’ self-view. Alternatively, it could also be very beneficial when looking to progress students and help them to become more aspirational. When students do not see a good reason to do the work then it can seem pointless which can demotivate them which is why it is so important to frame work in a way that lets them see that time spent attempting the work is time is productive and beneficial to them and will be so for them again later in life.

While extrinsic motivation does have a place in the classroom it is most effective when used positively, for instance in praise and to boost student confidence. When it comes to confidence it seems that higher confidence is a positive trait as it can imply greater resilience in students but at the same time does not always indicate that a student is attaining higher.


The observations that I will be assessing and comparing to the literature review took place in a Hampshire 11-16 mixed comprehensive school. It has a lower than National average number of pupil premium students but a higher than average number of students from service families, owing to the adjacency of an RAF airbase. The number of maths grades A*-C was 86% (The Robert Mays School, 2015) which is significantly higher than the National average of 63% (The Guardian, 2015). All mathematics classes in this school are setted from the time they arrive.

In this section I will attempt to synthesise and assess these observations along with the findings of the literature review with the aim of improving my practice. Observation One was taken by Teacher A for Class A; Observation Two was taken by Teacher B for Class B and Observation 3 was taken by Teacher C for Class C.


The presence of a behaviour policy such that is recommended by the government (Department for Education, 2016) was evident across these observations in details such as classroom organisation in the availability of equipment should students be unprepared as well as the use of both praise and sanctions in all lessons observed.

Since all of the classes that I observed were setted the benefit found by Sund (2009) of having a mix of higher attaining students in the class along with lower attaining students to increase performance of the lower attaining was not possible to observe. However, the teachers may have profited from finding these classes easier to teach as opposed to mixed ability groups (Hallum & Ireson, 2005) potentially allowing them to put more time during lessons into teaching and engaging more students on an individual basis. Hallum and Ireson (2005) also found that in mixed classes a lot of time had to be spent in advance in preparing more differentiated resources meaning that time was potentially being saved both in and out of the classroom. Alternatively, as Hallum and Ireson (2005) took in teacher opinions this may be subject to some level of inaccuracy.

Additionally, while identity based motivation (Destin & Oyserman, 2010) could be beneficial in assessing these classes and would certainly have an impact on motivation in these lessons, without having taken this information before the lessons I observed and using it to inform my observation, it has limited value. It could be argued that a broad overview of the class demographics could be made based on the pupil premium information for the school (The Robert Mays School, 2015) but this may not have been representative of the individual classes that I observed.

In Observation 3 there was a student who volunteered an answer in front of the class. Whereupon he got the answer wrong he began behaving in a negative manner eventually receiving sanctions for his now disruptive behaviour. I think that it is possible that in getting the answer wrong the student’s confidence dropped, demotivating the student leading him to become disengaged with the lesson. When compared with what Sheldrake et al. (2015) says about how a high level of confidence can be indicative of greater resilience, I posit that in this case the opposite was in effect here and it was this student’s low level of resilience that led to his disengagement and ultimately his behaviour.

A point might be made here that the students intrinsic motivation to find the answer had diminished leading to disengagement. The student became continuously more and more disruptive to the lesson whereupon the teacher began to apply extrinsic motivation in the form of sanctions. This concurs with what was posited by Oxley (2015) in that students can end up in negative cycles of punishments and further behaviour issues as well as what Murayama et al. (2013) says about how extrinsic motivation can be short lived which again was what was observed in the lesson. The use of sanctions in this case did not result in the student re-engaging for any length of time before becoming disruptive again. Although, it could have been that the student was being influenced by other stimuli that I was not aware of.

What Reeve et al. (2004) states about how engagement leads to more positive behaviour can be seen by comparing Observations 1 and 2 to Observation 3 where the two former lessons had greater engagement throughout resulting in the better behaviour of these classes. One way in which they were different to the third observed lesson was in the questioning. Both teachers A and B would engage with students through questioning more, expecting longer answers and staying with the students when they were incorrect whereas Teacher C would move on to another student when an incorrect answer was given which I have previously postulated was linked to the disengagement of that student.

In viewing each class only once, judging the level of intrinsic motivation in the students was difficult to quantify. But, from the questioning displayed by teachers A and B in their lessons it seems that the phrasing they used was encouraging students to think about the problems and the solutions as opposed to being told how to find it.

The engagement of classes A and B was certainly higher than in Class C which I believe is partly down to the transitions. Class C had a more continuous task through the whole lesson allowing a more leisurely pace whereas in Class B the teacher had very quick transitions keeping momentum and maintaining engagement. This higher pace of work could have been keeping students engaged by giving them a feeling of progression through the lesson which Sheldrake et al. (2015) says can be the case but adds that it requires teachers to know the current attainment of their classes well. That being said Sheldrake et al. (2015) also sees benefit in a slower pace of lesson like the lesson taken by Teacher C stating that it is more of a mastery approach.

Oxley (2015) relates that choice and autonomy are key in building motivation which I believe I observed in Observation 3 when the teacher made the class aware that there was another sheet available. This availability of new work sparked the class into either going up to get more work or going back to the sheet they were already working on. I suggest that a potential explanation for this is that the students were given autonomy over whether to continue on what they were doing or collect the new sheet resulting in them feeling more motivated to continue with the task.

The research suggests that knowing the reason why they are learning something, understanding how it might be a useful skill to have in their future lives is of benefit to many students (Elmore & Oyserman, 2012). This is seen in interactions between Teacher C when a disengaged student who was challenged on not working asked the teacher when they would ever use this in the future to which the teacher responded with a real-world example. This appeared to resonate with the student re-engaging them. I believe that after this was said the topic gained value in the students eyes and as such would be intrinsic motivation guiding this student rather than extrinsic. Yet, it is possible that the student simply saw that the teacher was not backing down to the challenging and so simply opted to continue working to remove himself from the conversation. If this were the case then it would have been extrinsic motivation which Murayama et al. (2013) describes as being the more fickle of the two.

I observed very little self-efficacy being displayed by the students in these observed lessons which may or may not be indicative of the types of lessons that lower attaining sets generally receive. However, further study would be required to find out whether this was representative in any way.

While intrinsic motivation did seem to be more influential over student motivation it was, at times, difficult to differentiate between whether it was intrinsic or extrinsic motivation that was motivating a student’s actions. A different form of study would likely be necessary in order to observe this.

From this assignment, there are several implications that I will take into my own practice. When planning lessons in the future I will strive to allow students more freedom in lessons encouraging their autonomy. By doing this, I hope to increase their engagement in lessons and the learning process as I am now far more aware of the effect low engagement can have on the outcome of a lesson.

As well as this I now have a greater appreciation for how my students need to understand why they are learning something and not see the learning process as pointless. I had previously been unaware of how influential identity based motivation could be on students and can see previous lessons I have taken where some students had stopped seeing learning in that lesson as congruent with what they will need to know.

When it comes to behaviour management I have come to reconsider some of my views. I can see that when a student misbehaves they need to be corrected on that behaviour to progress from it. That it is very easy for the student to enter into a cycle of punishment and reaction that simply will not benefit them and instead need help to correct the behaviour.


Department for Education. (2016). Behaviour and discipline in schools: Advice for headteachers and

school staff. Retrieved 25 November, 2016, from


Destin, M., & Oyserman, D. (2010). Incentivizing education: Seeing schoolwork as an[JH1] investment, not

a chore. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(5), 846-849.

Dweck, C S. (1986). Motivational processes affecting learning. American Psychologist, 41(10), 1040-


Elmore, K C., & Oyserman, D. (2012). If ‘we’ can succeed, ‘I’ can too: Identity-based motivation and

gender in the classroom. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 37(3), 176-185.

Hallam, S., & Ireson, J. (2005). Secondary school teachers’ pedagogic practices when teaching mixed

and structured ability classes. Research Papers in Education, 20(1), 3-24.

Mitchell, M., & Bradshaw, C. (2009). Examining classroom influences on student perceptions of

school climate: The role of classroom management and exclusionary discipline strategies.

Journal of School Psychology, 51(5), 599-610.

Murayama, K., Pekrun, R., & Lichtenfield, S. (2013). Predicting long-term growth in students’

mathematics achievement: The unique contributions of motivation and cognitive strategies.

Child Development, 84(4), 1475-1490.

Niemi, R., Kumpulainen, K., Lipponen, L., & Hilppö, J. (2015). Pupils’ perspectives on the lived

pedagogy of the classroom. Education 313, 43(6), 681-697.

Oxley, L. (2015). Do schools need lessons in motivation?. The Psychologist, 28(19), 722-723.

Oyserman, D. (2013). Not just any path: Implications of identity-based motivation for disparities in

school outcomes. Economics of Education Review, 33(4), 179-190.

Reeve, J., Jang, H., Carrell, D., Jeon, S., & Barch, J. (2004). Enhancing students’ engagement by

increasing teachers’ autonomy support. Motivation and Emotion, 28(2), 147-170.

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Research in Mathematics Education. Solving a problem by different students with different mathematical abilities: A comparative study using eye-tracking, Prague, Czech Republic. Retrieved from https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01288030/document

Seifert, T. (2004). Understanding student motivation. Educational Research, 46(2), 137-149.

Sheldrake, R., Mujtaba, T., & Reiss, M. (2015). Students’ intentions to study non-compulsory

mathematics: the importance of how good you think you are. British Educational Research Journal, 41(3), 462-488.

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Observation 1

Y8Set 4Period 6/616/11/16Class ATeacher A

What happens when…

Your comment(s)

Pupils enter the classroom? What are the established procedures?

Teacher greeting by the door. Students sit and take their book out and attempt starter on the board.

A lesson begins? How does the teacher establish attention?

Calling to attention not raising voice. Several keep talking but are individually called to attention by teacher still not raising voice.

The teacher leads a discussion from the front? How does he/she ensure attention and participation?

Leading discussion from the front. Asking students to explain why on their answers. Some struggling to put thoughts into full sentences.

The teacher gives out instructions?

Asks “I need you to..” when giving instructions.

Pupils carry out a task – how does the teacher ensure that they remain on task?

By asking questions to students every few minutes ensuring they stay on task.

The teacher provides an important explanation – how do they ensure that pupils have listened and understood?

A lot of AfL with whiteboards.

The teacher manage the transitions between different parts of the lessons?

Quickly throwing a new question to the class before asking someone to answer it.

Pupils are asked to work in small groups/pairs? How does the teacher ensure they talk about the work?

Working in silence as were disruptive earlier.

When a pupil doesn’t stay on task?

Asks student “please” first time.

Speaks to student and explains what they should be doing in work and behaviour.

Pupils are asked to write things down when some do not have a pen/book/paper?

Get equipment from neighbour.

A pupil behaves inappropriately?

Class warning. Individual students names on board.

There is an interruption from someone at the door?

Student being moved into this class (x2). Teacher waits for quiet after some laughter.

A pupil doesn’t understand?

Scaffolding, leading questions.

A pupil makes a mistake/answers a question incorrectly?

Talks through it with student until they get it and asked why to ensure understanding.

The lesson ends? How does the teacher ensure an orderly dismissal?

Tidying away before the bell with students collecting MWB and pens.”Not leaving until silence”

(adapted from Richard Johnstone: Communicative Interaction : A Guide for Teachers, CILT, 1989)

Note down examples of:

  • Teacher using verbal praise and encouragement (note down the actual words)


  • Teacher using positive body language (smiling, leaning forward etc)

Smiling at correct answers when shown on MWB during AfL.

  • Teacher using tone/volume of voice

Level tone throughout.

Quiet voice when talking one on one.

  • Teacher moving round the classroom or standing still. When do they do this, what are they doing whilst doing this, is there any purpose to the movement?

Students started arguing loudly across centre table when teacher left room to deal with student from another class. When they came back in they walked into the middle of the argument and went from one to the other calmly asking each to be quiet which was successful. One claimed not to have done anything, teacher said “I haven’t accused you of anything, I’m asking you to be quiet now”.

  • Teacher giving out tangible rewards e.g. merit points or equivalent

Names in board (positive as well as negative). Far more positive.

  • Teacher writing positive and encouraging comments in pupils’ exercise books


Observation 2

Y10Set 3Period 5/617/11/16 Class BTeacher B


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What happens when …

Your comment(s)

Pupils enter the classroom? What are the established procedures?

Greet at door. Individually told to copy down the starter.

A lesson begins? How does the teacher establish attention?

Stood and waited. Class was expecting it so a class routine.

The teacher leads a discussion from the front? How does he/she ensure attention and participation?

Asking questions expecting an answer and engagement in the lesson. Sometimes students wrong, given choice to move on or try again.

The teacher gives out instructions?

Starter and examples. All tasks on board as well as said out loud.

Pupils carry out a task – how does the teacher ensure that they remain on task?


The teacher provides an important explanation – how do they ensure that pupil shave listened and understood?

Asks if students need the help then goes through on whiteboard. Leaves worked answer there.

The teacher manage the transitions between different parts of the lessons?