Phase 1: Student Behaviour Survey

January - December 2011

To identify the current nature of unproductive student behaviour in South Australian schools, teachers and school leaders will be surveyed using an adapted form of the Discipline in Schools Questionnaire (DiSQ)(Adey, et al., 1991). In the web-based questionnaire, teachers and school leaders will be asked to identify a range of student behaviours that they observed or encountered in their classrooms and around the school during the week prior to completing the survey. The student behaviours listed in the survey range from relatively minor misdemeanors to more serious acts of verbal abuse, bullying, and physical violence. A number of extra student behaviours will be added to the DiSQ to capture the unproductive behaviours associated with passive disengagement reported by Angus, et al. (2009) and indirect forms of aggression investigated by Owens et al (Owens, 1996; Owens, et al., 2000; Spears, et al., 2009). As well as identifying the range and frequency of student behaviours in classes and around the school, teachers and school leaders will be asked how they responded to these behaviours and how difficult they found these behaviours to manage. Finally, respondents will be asked to explain the reasons they think their students behaved in the ways identified in their classes and around the school.

By preserving the essential integrity of the DiSQ, we will be able to make important comparisons between student behaviours reported in 1991 and those identified in 2011. Such 20 year comparisons are rare in education and will provide important empirical data on the relative state of unproductive student behaviour in contemporary South Australian schools.

Sampling Procedures

The target population for this phase of the research will be the total pool of Government, Catholic and Independent school teachers and school leaders in South Australia. A stratified random sample across the three schooling sectors will be generated from the staff databases of our industry partners. This sample (approximately 3,000) will include at least:

  • 10% of principals; and

  • 10% of Reception – Year 12 teachers.

Exclusion criteria will include:

  • Principals and teachers employed in special education schools; and

  • Temporary relief teachers.

Response rate: Large scale surveys of professional groups like teachers usually achieve very good response rates of over 60% of those surveyed (Johnson, 1995). These levels were achieved in the earlier South Australian studies of student behaviour in the early 1990s (Johnson & Adey, 1991). If a comparable response rate is achieved in the proposed study, around 1,800 teachers and school leaders will participate in this phase of the study.

Data Analysis

Descriptive statistics will be used to quantify the nature and frequency of student behaviours reported by teachers and school leaders. Cross tabulations will be used to analyse the behaviours of students according to age, gender, location, type of school, socio-economic status, and mobility. Inferential analyses (including regression and path analyses) will be undertaken to reveal differences in teachers’ responses to particular student behaviours and their attributions for those behaviours on the basis of teacher age, gender, location, level of schooling, and teaching experience, and the socio-economic status of the school.

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