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«Behavioral Dissonance and Contested Classroom Spaces: Teachers’ and Students’ Negotiations of Classroom Disciplinary Moments by Rebecca Neal A ...»

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At Stage 2, the single interactional events between a teacher and student were recorded, analyzed and indexed. Here a number of relational interactional occurred, but not all relational interactions were studied (or significant). I initially selected relational interactions thought to show teacher and student disagreements, but the selection of which interactions had meaning ultimately were identified by teachers and students.

At Stage 3, exchanges (individual responses made by the teacher and student that can be verbal or nonverbal) contained within each event were mapped. Exchanges involved interactional turn taking between the teacher and student. At this phase, the exchanges were linked to one another and also to an initial student action. Behavioral instances were further divided into single moments, so that at step 4 of the analysis process, a single act was further analyzed in greater detail.

Stage 4 (definition of moment-to-moment acts) was made of brief moments lasting no more than a few seconds, during which even the smallest act could be observed. It is during Stage 4 that the frame of interactive processes cannot be reduced any further and Schindler (1996) called this entity “moment to moment interaction” (p.

288). After stages 1 through 4 were completed, teachers and students were shown the edited video clips identified in Stage 3 and I asked questions pertaining to their interpretations of events, episodes, exchanges, and moment-to-moment acts. These interviews were audio and video recorded. Student and teachers responses were also coded for emerging themes and patterns.

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The trustworthiness of this study was related to the description, analyses developed, and credibility of findings. The convention when conducting and reporting qualitative research of this type was a matter of intent and substantive focus; and to illustrate general claims through rigorous research methods. For those reasons, multiple strategies were used to warrant the trustworthiness of the study findings: credibility (member checks, adoption of appropriate and well recognized research methods, debriefing sessions with committee members and chair), dependability (in depth research study design and its implementation), triangulation (to ensure credibility and confirmability; Merriam, 1998; Lincoln & Guba, 1985).

Credibility A significant consideration that enhances the credibility of this study was that the observations and interactions with teachers and students took place over an extended period of time. A key question asked was, “How congruent are the findings with reality?

Do the findings capture what is really there?” (Merriam, 1998, p. 201). Participant interviews and observations were conducted in a natural setting that reflected the reality of students’ and teachers’ everyday classroom experiences. I was also diligent in developing familiarity with IDA and the culture of the school, classroom and participants.

The familiarity with the school and participants provided for an accurate report of findings.

An additional provision to ensure trustworthiness involved the member checking of data and interpretations formed by participants. The independent corroboration from multiple participants also increased the trustworthiness of the study. This was done through member checking and I took the data and tentative interpretations back to teachers and students and asked them if the results were plausible. Adhering to Merriam’s (1998) suggestion, I did this several times throughout the study.

Confirmability Erickson (1986) indicated that the question of generalizability for an interpretive research study was inappropriate and that the purpose of such research was to develop an understanding with a particular depth. Such was the case here, as I strove to reach an understanding of students’ involvement in classroom disruptions and school discipline matters. Merriam (1998) suggests that instead of focusing on replication of findings, the intent of the research study is to have others agree that the results are sensible and consistent with the collected data. Similarly, Erickson (1986) stated that the most important characteristic of qualitative research is the centrality of interpretation. This includes “issues of human choice and meaning and the improvements in educational practice” (1986, p. 5). To that end, the trustworthiness of the findings was dependent upon the extent that findings were justifiable and reasonable to this case study, but I also acknowledge that other plausible interpretations of students’ classroom conduct could be made. Strategies used to ensure to a high degree that the results of the study can be confirmed by others entailed documenting the steps used for checking the data throughout the study, namely I examined the data, findings, interpretation and recommendations to determine if internal coherence existed.

Another strategy used to increase trustworthiness was to reveal some of my assumptions and beliefs. My positionality as a researcher was not widely noted and this could be seen as a limitation. Although I believe in individual accountability, I think learning institutions and those who work in them have the responsibility to educate and teach all children. I also believe that education is a fundamental right and that every student is entitled to successful school experiences.

Triangulation Triangulation was also incorporated. Merriam (1998) states that using multiple sources of data and methods to confirm findings are a strategy that researchers can use to enhance trustworthiness. Keeping that in mind, this study used multiple data sources such as interviews, observations, video recordings, stimulated recall interviews, and field notes. I looked for evidence across data sources to support my interpretations regarding misbehavior.

Dependability According to Lincoln and Guba (1985), researchers should think about the “dependability or consistency” (p. 288) of the results obtained from the data. They insist the researcher is the primary instrument for gathering data and that only a human instrument is able to capture the intricacies of social settings of which include peoples’ experiences (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Merriam (1998) remarks that the question is not if the results can be replicated, but if the results of the study are consistent with the data collected. Through debriefing (with peers, committee members, and committee chair), I demonstrated that given the data collected, the results make sense, are consistent and dependable.

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The focus of this study was to investigate teachers’ and students’ apperceptions of misbehavior. This research sought to gain insight into how an understanding of behavior mediates classroom interactional processes that ultimately constitute the precursors of student disciplinary classroom infractions. The term apperception refers to the process of taking in information into the mind (Adediwura & Tayo, 2007). This concept provides a critical lens into the phenomenon of interest in this study because I investigated how teachers and students come to understand misbehavior. This study took place within two elementary classrooms at one charter school, Intelligently Designed Academy, and included five students in fourth through sixth grade and their two respective teachers. The research question I sought to answer was this: How does one’s conceptualizations of misbehavior account for the way classroom disciplinary moments are constructed, interpreted and negotiated between teachers and students?

I use tenets of sociocultural theory (Artiles, 1998; Lantolf, 2000; Vygotsky, 1978;

1986) and symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969; Mead, 1934), as a lens for understanding classroom disciplinary moments. In doing so, I recognize that teachers’ and students’ beliefs mediated their perceptions and learning. Sociocultural theory proposes that learning is an active process with context being critical in learning (Hall, 2007; Vygotsky, 1978). Within classrooms, students and teachers see their self in relation to others, perception, and also through enacted social roles (John-Steiner & Mahn, 1996;

Mercer & Howe, 2012; Wertsch 1990). Combined these theoretical frameworks allow new insights into the situated nature of classroom misbehavior and the unfolding of classroom disciplinary moments.

I begin by providing an overview of the main insights from this study, that is, the intricacies involved in the situated nature of misbehavior and the development of classroom disciplinary moments. The following five sections describe the various components of the overall model of student misbehaviors that I discerned from the study evidence. For this purpose, I first provide an overview of this model, namely teachers’ and students’ interpretative processes for deriving meaning through interactions. Second, I discuss teachers’ and students’ conceptualizations of misbehavior that they brought to classroom situations in which disciplinary incidents arose. Third, I provide contextual information that teachers’ and students’ use as part of their meaning making process for understanding classroom disciplinary moments at Intelligently Designed Academy. Last, I explain the various formations of misbehavior that arise from the negotiation processes that constituted classroom disciplinary moments.

Overview of the Situated Nature of Misbehavior and the Development of Classroom

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There was order and logic in the ways teachers and students organized their thinking when relating to each other (McDermott, 1977). At the heart of teachers’ and students’ sense making was their interpretative meaning making process. This process was used for understanding classroom misbehavior and disciplinary moments. Teachers’ and students’ organization and execution of this logic was intricate, consisting of multiple overlays. In addition, the meaning making processes of teachers and students occurred simultaneously and/or in succession. These processes also occurred within oneself, another person, and/or with the environment.

Classroom disciplinary moments were created in a progression which advanced through six phases. Students’ and teachers’ interpretative meaning making process evolved in parallel fashion. This meant that teachers and students could be involved in the same disciplinary moment, but interpret disciplinary moments in a coordinated way, or not. A disciplinare moment typically staretd with a “launching.” This was defined as the student behavior that iniated a classroom disciplinry moment. The second phase was “intrepretation.” During this phase teachers believed that students willfully engaged in classroom misbehavior. The third phase was “coding.” This was defined as teachers and students blaming each other. The fourth phase was “public recognition.” This was defined as teachers doing something that signaled to students that he/she was aware of their misbehavior. The fifth phase was “sanction.” This was defined as students being consequence for their misbehavior. The 6th and final phase was “closure.” This was described as students and teaching having an immediate reaction to a classroom disciplinary moment.

The smallest interactional unit within each phase is called formations. Some disciplinary moments consisted of one student behavior and a teacher response. I called these paired formations “exchanges.” Other formations were longer, including multiple exchanges. I called these instances episodes. Events began with a student behvior and ended with a teacher santion. The difference between an exchange and episdodes was that an exchange consited of one student behavior and one teacher behavior. Behavioral episodes consisted of two or more likned teacher and student exchanges, that did not end with a teacher sanction. Classroom disciplinary moments lasted less than a few seconds, others lasted for minutes.

Zooming into teachers’ and students’ behavior during moment-to-moment classroom disciplinary moments; again conceptualizations of misbehavior varied.

Teachers and students processed information differently and at times perceived each other’s actions similarly and other times dissimilar. In every instance, a classroom disciplinary moment began with a student externalizing some kind of behavior. Figure 4 graphically represents the comprehensive view of classroom disciplinary moments.

Figure 4. Logic model for understanding classroom disciplinary moments.

Deriving Meaning: An Outline of Interpretative Processes Classrooms are very active spaces. Typically, classrooms have rules and operate with some type of order. Generally, teachers and students walk around, speak to one another, respond and initiate interactions, engage in classroom discussion, look at one another, joke, and even have physical contact. Although these behaviors are observable, because of the situated nature of classroom misbehavior, the notion of misbehavior is a dynamic perception.

Misbehavior is a pervasive notion in schools; however, in live context, we see how teachers and students come to understand differently what Charles, Senter, and (1999) defined as misbehavior, “behavior that is considered inappropriate for a setting or situation for which it occurs” (p. 2). There are systems of discipline within each state, school district and school sites. Within schools, there are categories and rules displayed on charts and written in policies and outlined in handbooks. Created is an illusion and conveyed is the message that misbehavior is a static notion of acceptable and unacceptable conducts. I suggest this is not the case; and that the co-construction of classroom disciplinary moments is a situated phenomenon.

Theoretical tenets of symbolic interactionism suggest the process of meaning making involves three major concepts: symbols (i.e., objects, situations, constructs, vocalizations); signification (i.e., meaning of a symbol and or representation of what a symbol stands for or represents); and action (i.e., perception of meaning; Blumer, 1969;

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