Punish them or engage them? Teachers' views on student behaviours around the school

Anna Sullivan, Bruce Johnson, Laurence Owens, Robert Conway, Carmel Taddeo

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


    This report presents findings from an ARC Linkage Study, titled ‘Punish them or engage them? Identifying and encountering productive and unproductive student behaviours in South Australian schools’ (LP110100317), more commonly referred to as the Behaviour at School Study (BaSS). This second report focuses on teachers’ views on student behaviour around the school.
    Contrary to media reports, serious offences do not occur frequently around the school. However, low-level disruptive behaviours and school rule infringements occur very frequently and antisocial behaviours occur quite regularly.
    Our analysis of the data revealed that:
     Low-level disruptive and school rule infringements were the behaviours that teachers reported most frequently, either on an almost daily or daily basis.
     The majority of teachers across the total sample indicated that they did not report serious offences at all in their most recent teaching week.
     Approximately one third of teachers reported that they did not need to manage anti-social behaviours in their most recent teaching week.
     Significantly more primary than middle/secondary teachers reported the need to manage low-level disruptive behaviours, school rule infringements and anti-social behaviours.
     Teachers employed in remote schools reported all categories of unproductive behaviours around the school significantly more often than teachers in metropolitan or rural schools.
     Teachers employed in schools with the lowest socio-educational advantage category (i.e. ≤900 and 901–1000 ICSEA brackets) reported significantly higher instances of encountering all categories of unproductive behaviours around the school than the other ICSEA categories.
     Significantly more female than male teachers reported encountering low-level disruptive behaviours.
     Significantly more male than female teachers reported encountering school rule infringements.
     There were no significant differences evident for years of teaching experience and all four behaviour categories.
    In the sample, 53% of teachers indicated that they were stressed about unproductive student behaviours around the school. Our results showed that:
     60% of teachers employed in schools with the lowest level of socio-educational advantage reported feeling stressed, in comparison to 28% of teachers employed in the most educationally advantaged schools.
     Significantly more teachers in the 50–59 age group reported being stressed than teachers in the other age categories.
     Significantly more primary teachers reported feeling stressed than secondary teachers.
     Significantly more teachers in the youngest age group reported feeling stressed, compared to teachers in the 40–49 and 60+ age bracket.
    Finally, the behaviours that teachers identified as the most difficult to manage were:
     refusing to follow instructions,
     persistently infringing school standards, and
     being unruly while waiting outside classrooms or the canteen or gym.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationAdelaide
    PublisherUniversity of South Australia
    Number of pages65
    ISBN (Print)978-1-922046-12-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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