Does Classroom Management Coursework Influence Pre-service Teachers’ Perceived Preparedness or Confidence?

Nov. 01, 2012

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol. 28, Issue 8, (November 2012), p. 1131-1143.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study explores the preparedness in managing specific problem behaviours, familiarity, and confidence in using management strategies and models of final-year pre-service teachers in Australia.

The participants were 573 final-year pre-service teachers in Australia, who had and had not completed focused classroom management units.
40.14% of participants enrolled in New South Wales programs.
Predominantly the participants were female (87.96%).
The authors used a multi-scale survey questionnaire used, which included five measurement scales.

This article reports on the responses to three of the scales, were developed for the purposes of this study:
- The Preparedness in Managing Behaviour Problems Scale (PMBPS), was designed to measure how prepared preservice teachers felt in managing specific problematic student behaviours;
- The Behaviour Management Strategies Scale (BMSS), gathered information on participants’ confidence in using specific classroom behaviour management strategies; and
- The Classroom Management Theories and Approaches Scale (CMTAS), which examined which management models participants were confident in applying.


The findings reveal that the completion of mandatory, or a combination of mandatory and elective classroom behaviour management units, was associated with higher feelings of preparedness for all categories of problematic behaviours.
However, it would appear that even when classroom behaviour management units are completed, pre-service teachers feel that it has only somewhat prepared them to manage disruption, non-compliance, or disorganisation, affirming assertions of inadequate preparation by beginning teachers, principals, and teacher educators.
Respondents who had not completed classroom behavior management units reported being less than somewhat prepared to manage these forms of misbehaviour.
Furthermore, pre-service teachers indicated they were familiar with a broad range of options for managing student misbehaviour from their coursework preparation.
The strategy that was most familiar to the total sample and subsamples of pre-service teachers was praise, encouragement, and rewards.
The strategy that was most unfamiliar to the total sample and sub-samples of pre-service teachers was the Premack principle.
This strategy has been shown to be effective in promoting attention to task, and time on task.
The results of the principal component analysis suggest that, for this sample of four-year trained pre-service primary teachers, confidence in using classroom behaviour management strategies is best represented as a unidimensional construct.
The strategy that pre-service teachers reported feeling most confident in using was praise, encouragement, and reward.

The greater instructional time may have provided more opportunities for the Australian sample in this study to learn about positive reinforcement and the benefits of using it appropriately.
Collaboration with a school counsellor was the strategy with the lowest mean confidence score equating to feeling only slightly more than somewhat confident.
Completing classroom behaviour management units appeared to make a significant difference to pre-service teachers’ confidence in using management strategies.

This study sheds light upon which management models pre-service teachers were familiar with, what models they felt confident in using, and adds to the limited knowledge base of classroom management curriculum in initial teacher education programs.
The total sample of preservice teachers were familiar with 25 different management models. Those who had completed classroom behaviour management units were exposed to almost twice as many models on average as those who had not.
Positive Behaviour Intervention and Support (PBIS) was the most familiar model, and had the highest percentage of participants,who reported feeling confident or very confident in using this model.
The strong familiarity and confidence ratings in PBIS should be encouraging news to educational authorities, and shows that teacher education programs have been responsive to changes occurring in school systems.
Although pre-service teachers were familiar with a dozen models, they were only confident or very confident in using a few.
Those who had completed stand-alone units reported feeling confident in using more models than their peers who had not, and this difference was significant.
The data from this study support the view that completing stand-alone units increases knowledge about, and confidence in using management models.


Standalone coursework in classroom behaviour management does matter, and teacher education programs that provide it are allowing additional time for their pre-service teachers to acquire more knowledge, leading to increased perceptions of preparedness and confidence in classroom behaviour management.
Although the teacher preparation curriculum is a crowded one, finding the time to provide a mandatory unit in classroom management is recommended.

Overall, pre-service teachers felt only somewhat prepared to manage problematic student misbehaviour, and were only somewhat confident in using a wide variety of management strategies or models.
They were familiar with many strategies and models, but were only confident in using half of what strategies they knew, and an even lower proportion of models.
Education systems also have a role to play in providing ongoing professional learning related to classroom and behavior management to practicing teachers.
Increasing instruction in methods for managing challenging behaviours seems necessary given the low preparedness scores for aggressive, antisocial, and destructive behaviours.
Reducing the number of strategies and models imparted, and focusing on a smaller range of proven effective strategies suitable for a wide range of problematic behaviours that are underpinned by theoretical models, could lead to greater perceptions of preparedness and confidence.

Updated: Jul. 28, 2015


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