The use of effective strategies to support a self-regulatory approach to managing a learning environment
The aim for all educators is to develop an environment that supports and facilitates both sustainable and meaningful academic and social-emotional learning for their students (Evertson & Weinstein 2006). Research has shown that 60% of students demonstrate productive behaviour over the year, with productive behaviour being behaviour that supports academic progress (Sullivan 2017, L2). The obvious aim is to have students working productively 100% of the time in the classroom, however this is just not realistic. Research suggests that 20% of students are consistently unproductive in the class environment, with unproductive behaviour being any behaviour that impedes a students academic progress, such as disengaged, uncooperative or low-level disruptive behaviour (Sullivan 2017, L2). With 40% of students fluctuating between demonstrating productive and unproductive behaviour (Sullivan 2017, L2), this has forced education professionals to consider ways in which productive student behaviour can be maximised and unproductive student behaviour minimised in order to enhance the learning opportunities for all students.
This essay will analyse the concepts and theoretical ideas and reasoning’s as to why a self-regulatory approach to prevention in the classroom is effective in supporting student’s social and academic learning. The essay will also analyse how self-regulation can aid in the intervention process to unproductive behaviour. Effective strategies for self-regulating student learning will also be explored, in particular the establishment of class routines and standards in the developmental stage of the learning process. Other course principles such as human dignity, predictable learning environments, the sharing of power and quality curricula will also be drawn upon. Another focus will be on how class routines, standards and teaching strategies can facilitate intervention strategies in order to maintain an effective, self-regulatory classroom environment.
Approach to promoting productive behaviours (ie prevention)
The research of Gardner (1963), encapsulates the self-regulation principle, with the notion of the student being responsible for their own learning, behaviour and the pursuit for their own education, being a prominent message. Zimmerman (1990), outlines the importance of personal initiative in learning, where students accept great responsibility for their achievement outcomes. In order to create a self-regulated learning environment, Zimmerman (1990) outlines the profound impact of the way teachers interact with students and how the school environment is organised as key factors. The teacher’s role in any learning environment is to facilitate student learning, and an important aspect of this occurs in the developmental stage of the learning process.
The research of McDonald (2013) suggests that in order to create an effective learning environment, the establishment of class routines and standards is imperative. The aim of these routines and standards is to enhance the learning of the students by outlining processes by which academic engagement can be increased and highlighting behaviour that will not contribute to this effective learning environment in order to minimise its occurrence (McDonald 2013). In terms of the development of these routines and standards, Baeten (2012) outlines an effective approach to its development, enabling greater self-regulation for students. When the teacher is able to guide the students in the many rules and routines that are being developed for the classroom – this strengthens students understanding and ownership of the rules. The effectiveness of this collaborative approach to the establishment of classroom routines and standards is that students are responsible for their development, enabling them to ‘buy-in’ and own the rules as well as the consequences (McDonald 2013).
The link between the student-teacher collaborative development of classroom routines and standards and the concept of self-regulation lies within its personal relevance to the students. Students’ personal interests, cultural backgrounds and individual needs are recognised through this collaborative venture, which makes for a more positive and meaningful learning environment (Jones 2011). Students in this situation are aware of what is or isn’t acceptable as it relates specifically to themselves, and accept great responsibility for their achievement outcomes, which reflects the self-regulated learning perspective of Zimmerman (1990). The research of Mockler & Groundwater-Smith (2015) supports this view of the importance of shared contribution in the creation of a learning environment. The literature of Mockler & Groundwater-Smith (2015) outlines how students will take more pride in their work and develop an increased sense of ownership over their environment, which can enable the sharing of power and result in the development of self-regulated student learning and behaviour. Through the sharing of power comes with it many results, however Schmuck & Schmuck (2001) found that if power is shared in the right way, such as shared decision-making in the establishment phase of a classroom environment, then generally referent power will be achieved. This result allows the teacher to maintain a facilitator role in the learning environment to the students, ensuring that the concept of power-with and power-to is maintained. The result of this power concept is that the students will develop a strong belief in their ability to act, as well as fulfill their desires by acting together, as outlined by Sullivan (2017, L4).
The importance of establishing, discussing and maintaining routines and guidelines in the classroom is supported by the research of Woolfolk & Weinstein (2006), where the development of this positive framework will have many benefits such as increasing a student’s self-motivation, self-management, increase responsible behaviour and build a sense of community within the class. Through the development of classroom routines and guidelines, this can have a significant impact of a student’s sense of self, with responsibility for learning being placed directly on the learner. Kohn (2006) outlines the important notion of children not just merely being adults in the making, rather they are people whose needs, ideas, rights and experiences should be heard and respected – reflecting the course principle of human dignity. The concept of making students accountable for their own work and environment is an important one, because all individuals should be given the opportunity or ability to make choices about what happens to them and be provided with the opportunity to be able to regulate their own behaviour (Kohn 2006).
An approach that is purely focused on managing behaviour will not be as effective as a preventative approach that focuses on engaging pedagogies where respectful behaviour policies are seen, such as restorative practice rather than punitive approaches (Sullivan 2017, L4). Zimmerman & Schunk (2001) outline the positive role that self-system structures and processes play in self-regulated learning in particular. This is through the students understanding the processes for the regulation of thought, feelings and actions. This also allows us to define the interventions for helping students become self-regulated and for achieving positive student self-development
Approach to managing unproductive behaviours (ie intervention)
As outlined throughout (Gilson 2017), unproductive behaviour is inevitable in a classroom environment. Zimmerman & Schunk (2001) indicate that interventions for unproductive student behaviour must be seen in order to ensure the maintenance of an effective learning environment. This means that a variety of intervention strategies may be used in the classroom environment to counteract this unproductive behaviour, with the use of low-order (non-verbal) interventions and consequences being particularly effective when ensuring self-regulation of student behaviour and learning.
Low-order interventions can be effectively used to manage unproductive student behaviour, which can also focus on placing more responsibility on the individual in order to regulate their own behaviour and learning (Larrivee 2009). Through the identification of class routines and guidelines, as well as the consequences that go with that behaviour, Cothran et al. (2003) reported that students demonstrated more productive class behaviour when these clear and predictable guidelines were established. However, when unproductive behaviour is seen, such as behaviour that is disengaged, uncooperative or low-level disruptive, low-order interventions can be used.
When managing unproductive behaviour, many non-verbal strategies can be used that will focus on empowering the individual and the choices they make as well as well referring back to the previously established routines and guidelines. Larrivee (2009) outlines the use of eye contact as a simple, yet effective strategy to manage low-level unproductive behaviour. Often students misbehave when out of the teacher’s sight, therefore constant scanning of the environment and using eye contact will ensure that the students are reminded of the appropriate classroom behaviour. This results in providing a choice to the students of the behaviour that they wish to demonstrate, and if unproductive behaviour is continually seen, a simple non-verbal reference to the established standards will serve as a reminder of the agreed upon classroom behaviour. Jones, Jones & Jones (2007) outline proximity as another non-verbal strategy that can be effectively used to manage low-level unproductive behaviour. By simply moving closer to a student who may be seeking attention or interrupting the class, this often forces the student to consider if their behaviour at that point in time is appropriate and what they can do about it, ensuring the students regulate their own behaviour.
If unproductive behaviour continues and consequences have been established within the routines and guidelines that coincide with certain behaviour, it is essential that these consequences are followed through. Woolfolk & Weinstein (2006) outline the importance of students dealing with the consequences that their choices have led to, placing ownership on the student to regulate their behaviour so that these consequences do not occur. Through the collaborative establishment of class routines and guidelines, students are held accountable to these norms that they have established and accept full responsibility for their actions and choices that may potentially result in a consequence. Therefore, as outlined by Williams (2012), the teacher must address the behaviour and not the student, ensuring that they recognise what the inappropriate behaviour was and what rule it contravened.
A self-regulatory approach to prevention, coupled with the early, collaborative development of classroom routines and guidelines, has been identified as being effective in enhancing the social and academic learning opportunities for students by providing them with increased power and ownership over the environment in which their behaviour is regulated for learning. The use of non-verbal strategies by the teacher, such as eye contact and proximity, has been shown to be an effective intervention approach to unproductive behaviour as it provides students with an opportunity to regulate their own behaviour through this increased ownership and understanding of an effective learning environment. Through the increased ownership and power to exercise choice that the students have over their behaviour in the classroom, the concept and understanding of the importance of consequences is clear, as students are held accountable for their actions. Therefore, a self-regulatory approach to promoting productive student behaviour and minimising unproductive student behaviour is preferable in the classroom to external control as it builds a students learning capacity by providing them with increased ownership and motivation over their learning.
The teacher must act as a facilitator in this learning process, providing power to students in order for them to understand that they are in control of their own learning and if used effectively, learning opportunities are able to be enhanced. The notion of students regulating their own behaviour
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