TEACHERS' RESPONSES TO ACHIEVEMENT-RELATED BEHAVIOR IN THE CLASSROOM

LINDA BETH STEPHAN, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to investigate elementary school teachers' responses to female and male students' behaviors in academic task-related situations, as possible precursors of developing achievement attitudes and behaviors. Specifically, teachers' evaluative feedback in response to students' academic task-related behaviors, teachers' communications of academic performance expectancies, and teachers' communications of causal attribution feedback in response to students' successes and failures were observed.^ The teachers and students of 18 elementary school classes, in one parochial and three public schools, were observed. Kindergarten through sixth-grade classes were observed. One female and one male observer collected the experimental data, using an observation inventory developed for the study. Another female observer assessed levels of observer agreement throughout data collection. Each class was observed for approximately four hours, for a total of 66 observed hours of classroom interaction.^ As hypothesized, across grade levels and types of schools observed, male students were involved in significantly more academic task-related interactions with their teachers than were female students. In grades K-2, however, no significant sex difference in the number of teacher-student interactions was found.^ As hypothesized, significant differences in causal attributions communicated by teachers for female and male students' academic successes and failures were observed. Teachers most frequently attributed girls' successes to effort, while attributing their failures to lack of ability. Boys' successes were most frequently attributed to ability, while their failures were attributed to lack of effort.^ Contrary to the hypothesis of the study, no significant differences in the types of evaluative feedback received by girls and boys in response to their academic task-related behaviors was observed. Due to the small amount of emotionally ambivalent and hostile teacher feedback observed, as compared to emotionally neutral and positive feedback, grade level statistical analyses were not applied to the evaluative feedback. However, trends in the data did suggest possible grade level variations in the distribution of feedback to girls and boys. Girls in grades K-2 received more ambivalent and hostile feedback than boys, while in grades 3 and 4, boys received more feedback of all types, particularly more ambivalent and hostile feedback.^ No significant difference was found in the types of academic performance expectancies communicated by teachers to female and male students. Both sexes received more positive than negative expectancies, contrary to the hypothesis of the study.^ The small numbers of observations recorded in numerous categories of teacher behavior, the lack of independence of observations, the small sample of teachers observed, and the possible effects of conducting the observations close to the end of the school year were noted limitations of the study. The findings suggested that future investigations examine grade level variations in the frequency and nature of teachers' interactions with female and male students in academic task-related situations. ^

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

STEPHAN, LINDA BETH, "TEACHERS' RESPONSES TO ACHIEVEMENT-RELATED BEHAVIOR IN THE CLASSROOM" (1980). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8020086.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8020086

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