Lower Secondary School Teachers' Judgements of Pupils' Problems

Oct. 26, 2009

Source: Teachers and Teaching, Volume 15, Issue 5 (October 2009), pages 563 - 578.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this paper, the authors will present results from a study carried out in one Norwegian municipality among teachers taking part in a two-year intervention study.

Research questions

This study will investigate the following questions:

What problems do the Norwegian teachers in this study perceive as most prevalent among novice lower secondary school pupils?

How is this related to teacher beliefs about inclusion and perceptions of their own work (efficacy and professional (un)certainty)?


Seventy-four 8th and 9th grade teachers at six lower secondary schools in one municipality have agreed to take part in a two-year research project either as active participants in an intervention group or as a control group. All schools are located in the same municipality that is a fairly well to do municipality with very low unemployment.

63.5% of the teachers are female and 36.5% are male. Forty-six percent of the teachers are younger than 40 and 54% are 41 or older. The number of participating teachers at the time when this questionnaire survey was conducted represents about 20% of the total number of lower secondary school teachers in this municipality, and the number of schools represents 60% of the lower secondary schools in the municipality.

The participating teachers filled out a questionnaire in August 2005, just as school was starting for the new academic year.


The Lower secondary school teachers reported on the prevalence of problems among pupils entering lower secondary school and types of problems among pupils in Grades 8-10.

Teachers report that the transition from Elementary to Lower secondary school is problematic for approximately 30% of the pupils. About 70% of the teachers report that 25% or more of pupils transitioning to Grade 8 lack academic experiences and skills and have problems following directions.

There is also a tendency for teachers who report higher values on professional (un)certainty about pupils' learning and on two efficacy variables included in the study, to be more favourably inclined towards inclusion of children who are perceived as having learning or behaviour problems.
Additionally, teachers who report higher values on efficacy scales tend to report lower values on problems among pupils, and teachers who are less favourable towards inclusion report higher numbers of pupils having problems.

The results are discussed in relation to schools as workplaces and professional development for pre-service and in-service teachers.

Updated: Jan. 31, 2010