«Behavioral Dissonance and Contested Classroom Spaces: Teachers’ and Students’ Negotiations of Classroom Disciplinary Moments by Rebecca Neal A ...»
The research question for this study focused on how teachers’ and students’ conceptualization of misbehavior accounts for the way classroom misbehavior is constructed, interpreted and negotiated. This was studied through understanding how students and teachers negotiate interactional moments during instances of teacher-student conflicts that may lead to school discipline inequities. It includes the social aspects of interactions, but also teachers’ and students’ meaning-making processes of misbehavior.
The data collection procedures for this question were conducted in parts and involved participant observation (including field notes), videotaping, and stimulated recall interviews.
Study Question (Part A): What are students’ and teachers’ conceptualizations of misbehavior? I interviewed students and teachers about their views on classroom order, student misbehavior, and personal expectations regarding classroom routines and procedures. Individual interviews with both teachers and students were conducted to gain access to many different types of exchanges that participants employed in their routine interactions with others (Moore, Henfield, & Owens, 2006).
Initial interviews were conducted for the first 2-3 weeks of the academic year.
Furthermore, individual interviews allowed the participants to share their conceptualizations and experiences in their own words while giving me (as the researcher) the ability to develop a complete view of each participant’s construction of their reality (Berger & Luckmann, 1967; Moore et al., 2009).
Given the need to conduct student interviews during non-academic and instructional periods, interviews had to be conducted during lunch or recess. I conducted up to six interviews lasting up to approximately 60 minutes broken up into 20 minute intervals to coincide with students’ lunch and recess period. On occasion student interviews occurred for up to 40 minutes lasting the entire length of lunch and recess. If student interviews were conducted during lunch, students ate their lunch during the interview. Interview times with students were also shortened to allow for them to participate in recess. I needed to be realistic in planning for frequent, but shortened interview periods with students.
These interview questions were based on constructs included in studies that investigated discipline, misbehavior, and perception (Coleman & Gilliam, 1983; Gregory & Mosely, 2004; Saunders, Davis, Williams, & Williams, 2001; Supaporn, Dodds, & Griffin, 2003; Vavrus & Cole, 2002). Although it is included as Appendix F, below is a
sample of questions asked during the initial interview of teachers and students:
Immediately following each interview with students and teachers, I wrote in a research log comments and reflections about aspects that caught my attention that are germane to the study. I included analytical and conceptual reflections, and notes relevant for the next contact, as well as general observations such as the mood, tone of the interview and general demeanor of the participant.
Study Question (Part B): How do teachers and students account for the way classroom disciplinary moments are constructed, interpreted, and negotiated? To address the second part of the study question, I used video recordings of classrooms, participant observation and field notes. Initial observations began on August 1, the start of the 2012-2013 school. The study concluded approximately 9 months later. The first four weeks of classroom video recordings were used to develop a portrait of the classroom routines and everyday practices. This allowed me to gain insights about the predictable rhythm of classroom events, understand teachers’ and students’ approaches to classroom order, and contextualize the analysis of teacher-student conflicts.
Observations and video recordings occurred in the morning between 8:00 AM and 12:25 PM. I worked with five students and two teachers, including two students in grades 4th through 6th grades. I observed students in their respective classes from 8:00 AM to 10:20 AM, 10:25 AM to 12:25 PM and 1:05 to 3:05. I would alternate the observations periods so that students could be observed across contexts and during varying blocks.
Observations occurred at least three days per week between Monday and Thursday.
Classroom video recordings occurred in conjunction with participant observations. I began sketching field notes during the video recordings. I had two to three video cameras in the focal classrooms. One video camera was set to continuously record the whole group and focused on the teacher. The second camera was positioned in the direction of the focal students. A third camera was positioned in the direction of the teacher. Videotaping captured observable events in the classroom. Fieldnotes from videotaped recordings were taken to identify and catalog instances of misbehavior and used to prepare for the stimulated recall interviews to come later.
Spending time as a participant observer and recording fieldnotes also provided me a sense of the life in the classroom. I conducted participant observations as a way to understand teachers’ and students’ definitions of misbehavior in naturally occurring events within the classroom. Participant observation was also used so that the “researcher can work to better understand the view of the [teacher’s and student’s world] through their own eyes” (Schnell & Wagner, 1983, p. 9). In addition, observations make it possible for the researcher to record behavior as it is happening (Merriam, 1998). During observations I focused the field notes on routines, participation structures, topics, and content covered in lessons and other academic or social activities, teacher/student talk, behaviors, and gestures, voice tone, physical distances between objects and furniture in the classroom, teacher and student proximity, student and teacher positions in the classroom, seating arrangements, and the like. Other things noted were seating arrangements and general classroom movement patterns of both teachers and students.
After I left the school, I developed the fieldnotes to document the classroom routines and rhythm (Emerson, 1995) to contextualize in detail classroom events, activities, and teacher-student conflicts. Field notes provided detailed descriptions of episodes and events that transpired during observations. I provided a comprehensive description of what happened during particular time periods such as episodes of teacherstudent conflict or classroom instruction. Many settings have their own schedule (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983) that can serve as a type of outline. Emerson (1995) recommends starting observations at the beginning of a period (as determined by the setting) and concluding observations at the end of the period.
I used stimulated recall interviews to investigate students’ and teachers’ meaningmaking processes during negotiated episodes of teacher-student conflicts within the classroom. During stimulated recall interviews, I selected clips of video recordings that depicted conflict incidents and asked students and teachers to discuss their participation in the event. Plaut (2006) and Sime (2006) indicated that many studies have used stimulated recall to study classroom interactions and Beers, Boshuizen, Kirschner, Gijselaers, and Westendorp (2006) specified that stimulated recall interviews help researchers to gain insight into mental constructs of participants’ minds. Stough (2001) implied this think aloud process enabled researchers access to the thoughts of participants and considered stimulated recall ideal when researchers want participants to be introspective and reflective so that their mental processes can be revealed (Mackey & Glass, 2005).
Within less than 48 hours of each videotaping, I conducted stimulated recall interviews with individual participants. Bloom (1953) found that students were able to accurately recall memories and thoughts that occurred during class up to two days later with approximately 95% accuracy. Although previously mentioned, interviews were oneon-one and they occurred before or after school or during lunch and recess.
I conducted at least four to six stimulated interviews with selected students and teachers. These interviews related to critical discipline incidents, which were reduced to shortened video segment. Each of these interviews lasted approximately 30 minutes.
Again, when necessary, interviews were broken up into smaller increments dependent upon teacher and student schedules.
The use of stimulated recall involved students and teachers separately watching a video-recording of a specific classroom event in which they were involved. Teacher and student responses were audio recorded and during the interview, I asked questions that related to events observed in the classroom. Using an adapted version of Morine and Vallance (1975) stimulated recall interview procedure, during certain video clip
segments, I asked questions like:
I asked students and teachers other questions like these relating to the video clip until I exhausted the discussion of the incidents. General contextual information about each segment was also used.
In this study, a combination of qualitative methods, specifically, case study (Merriam 1998), grounded theory (Glaser and Strauss, 1967), and video analysis (Erickson, 2006; Ridder, 2007) provided the framework for data analysis and interpretation (see Table 9 for data analysis procedures). Given the strengths and weaknesses of various methods, researchers may combine methods in complementary ways as a strategy for investigating classroom interactions (Mercer, Littleton, & Wegerif, 2009). Such was the case for this study.
Table 9 Data Analysis Procedures
All interviews and stimulated recall video recordings were transcribed. After individual transcripts were completed, I analyzed the texts using open coding (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). The conceptual labels identified from open coding were sorted and complied. Using Strauss and Corbin’s (1990) suggestions for axial coding, categories from the data was arranged. This secondary analysis was used as a way to produce a conceptual model of student misbehaviors. I also systematically analyzed the data for thematic patterns using a constant comparison method of analysis (see Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1990). In addition, by conducting a descriptive analysis, categories were created to describe the interactions of each participant. This was
a) identifying key issues, recurrent events or activities in the data, i.e.,
c) finding examples of transcribed text that illustrate different categories;
d) writing about the categories being explored describing all the incidents
The use of video was incorporated as an extension of direct observations and allowed for a more detailed analysis to occur (Gobo, 2008). I used the first four weeks of video data to create a portrait of everyday routines in each of the classrooms observed.
Field notes and video-recordings were closely analyzed for critical classroom behavioral events between the teacher and student. The teachers’ and students’ responses were coded several times to identify representations of misbehavior. Next I indexed video segments of conflicts from the 10 weeks of data collection and created a library of incidents per student. I used triangulate with field notes to identify episodes of conflict.
Once this was done, I coded episodes of misbehavior to characterize strategies used by teachers and students to negotiate their moment-to-moment decision during instances of classroom conflict. I also developed categories from these preliminary codes to identify teachers’ and students’ thinking regarding their involvement in these incidents.
Dedoose, a web-based data software application, was used to aid in the analysis of text and video data. Adhering to data analysis mentioned I used this program to organize and look for categories and themes. A part of the data analysis involved looking for contextual information of a rule infraction and from interviews to understand the meaning of students’ and teachers’ meaning of misbehavior. This entailed selecting video segments that were meaningful and displayed classroom disruptions or student misbehavior based on my interviews with teachers and students.
Erickson (1986) suggests that even if a correlation among behavior exists and seems to be very strong that as in interpretive researcher who seeks to explain the causes of human social life, one cannot solely rely on observed similarities between prior and subsequent behaviors. Erickson specifically states that, “an explanation of cause in human action must include identification of the meaning-interpretation of the actor” (1986, p. 11). He recommends seeking an understanding of “what are the conditions of meaning that students and teachers create together?” (1986, p. 11). To accomplish an understanding of how teachers and students conceptualized misbehavior and account for their thinking surrounding misbehavior, I had to understand the conditions in the classroom as they were understood by teachers and students. For those reasons, I asked teachers and students to identify episodes of conflict from shortened video segments that I chose.
I used two data analysis procedures: Erickson’s whole-to-part (inductive) procedures with a focus on interaction for discovering and analyzing data from videotape (Erickson, 2006) and a modified version of Ridder’s (2007) procedure for video analysis for analyzing the very short video clips used during stimulated recall interviews. The stages of analysis for Ridder were renamed according to their unique qualities and
relevance for analysis in relational interactions:
Stage 1: digital recording of the whole classroom process
The first stage was completed during the first four weeks of video recording data collection. The entire classroom process was video recorded using a wide angle lens and two telephoto angle camera. After whole classroom processes were analyzed, interactions between a participant student and teacher were indexed.