The strategy of management adopted to positively manage a classroom is recognized as a precondition for effectiveness in teaching (Shimahara 1998a). However, certain factors such as classroom management, discipline and student behaviour have often been implicated as part of the problems in the management of classrooms. This assertion according to Everston and Weinston (2006) has been found to be true especially for new teachers who have given managing classroom as their highest priority. While it is expected that teachers would be concerned about their relationship with their students and issues of discipline, other concerns such as workload cannot be ruled out as it could lead to job dissatisfaction (Lewis, Romi, Qui and Katz 2005).
In recent times, schools have experienced these behavioural challenges from their students within the learning environment and with a lack of strategic intervention, effectively managing a classroom for good quality learning will pose a huge problem.
The research study will take into account the national curriculum for Key stage 4 mathematics programmes of study and the key expectations of student. It will also look at the paucity of studies on classroom management approaches to KS 4 Mathematics with a view to ascertaining a more robust approach to managing classroom.
2.1. WHAT IS CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT?
Classroom management refers to the strategies, skills and techniques that teachers use to keep students organized, orderly, focused, attentive, quiet on the task and also academically productive during a class. In other words, these strategies, when adopted and applied professionally help teachers to create and maintain an effective learning environment that could facilitate both academic and social emotional learning. This notion is underscored by Wong (2001), who defined classroom management as “all things that a teacher does to organise students, space, time, and materials so that instruction in content and student learning can take place’.
However, a more elaborate definition is put forward by Garrett, (2008:35), who stated that classroom management is a ‘multi-faceted concept that includes the organisation of the physical environment, the establishment of rules and routines, the development of effective relationships, and prevention of misbehaviour’. On the other hand, classroom management could be described as the process of governing a classroom through which procedures, rules and policies are set in place.
Classroom management is often viewed as a continuous process that requires adequate patience and effective planning and as stated by Larrivee (2005:5), ‘classroom management is a critical ingredient in a three-way mix of effective teaching strategies, which includes meaningful content, powerful teaching strategies and an organisational structure to support productive learning’. And on a broader perspective, it is seen as any action undertaken by a teacher to create an environment that supports and facilitates both academic and social-emotional learning’ (Everton and Weinstein 2006).
When classroom management approaches are effectively implemented, teachers minimise students behaviours that could make the learning difficult while teachers also maximise students’ behaviours that could facilitate or enhance effective learning.
Students’ behaviours such as , lack of attention, task avoidance, refusal, and engaging in power struggles always causes students distractions and takes the students attention away from learning. To make the classroom setting or learning environment more effective, teachers are expected to use classroom management approaches to reduce or eliminate classroom For teachers to have effective teaching, unforeseen challenges from the students must be controlled. Controls of students in this case are the set rule by the school such as policies, assessment methods and active curriculum.
This is collaborated by Marzano (2003) who stated that, ‘actions in the classrooms have twice the impact on student achievement as do school policies regarding curriculum, assessment, and community involvement’.
Classroom management has been described as an attribute to discipline negative behaviour within the classroom. Capizza (2009:1) argued that, ‘establishing a well organised plan for classroom management at the outset of the year is essential for a peaceful and calm classroom that is conducive to instruction and learning for students with a variety of academic, social, and behavioural needs’.
Various studies have been carried out by the researchers on classroom management, yet
When classroom management approaches are effectively executed, teachers minimise the behaviours that could hinder learning for both individual students and groups of students while maximising the behaviours that facilitate or enhance learning.
Student behaviours like shouting out, not paying attention, task avoidance, disrespect, refusal, and engaging in power struggles take the focus away from teaching and students’ focus away from learning. For teacher to create and maintain an effective classroom setting, the teachers will have to make use of classroom management approaches, strategies or techniques that will eliminate classroom disruption and increase student’s compliance in KS 4 classroom Mathematics.
2.1.1. CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT IN MAINTAINED HIGH SCHOOLS
An effective classroom management system is a pre-condition for establishing a conducive learning environment or classroom setting. Classroom management studies highlighted additional methods which could be of benefit to students in urban schools and as previous research studies on classroom management have suggested, urban secondary schools are faced with an increase in disruptive student behaviours, which suggests that effective classroom management is needed urgently with regards to high poverty areas (Matus, 2001).
It is also well known that classroom management problems are of greater challenge for urban schools in high poverty areas. This assertion is underpinned by the observation of Weiner (2010:307) who stated that, ‘the schools themselves are under greater pressure to maintain a safe and orderly academic environment and teachers may not be supported by the school’s administration in building this environment’.
Further research investigation was carried out by Weiner (2010), to identify the reason why classroom management in urban schools have learning issues and that the school environment undercuts the social norm required for high academic functioning in urban classrooms. Furthermore, successful urban teachers must deeply embed classroom management in every aspect of classroom life, making the teaching of social skills a reflexive part of instruction’ (Weiner 2010:309).
Weiner (2010:76) explained that for classroom management to be effective, the environment must have, ‘fewer disruptions during instructional time, better teaching planning, better classroom organisation and student engagement. It is thought that this will allow for more learning time’ and based on this premise, Downer, La Paro, Pianta, and Rimm-Kaufman (2005:380) argued that, ‘teachers in these higher, quality classrooms use proactive approaches to discipline; they establish stable routines, monitor their students carefully to keep them engaged and manage behaviour problems proactively’. In their study, three key components of classroom settings and qualities to children’s behaviour was identified; Firstly, the classroom management has the largest effects on student achievement, secondly, the environment must be conducive for the students to learn in other to avoid a chaotic and poorly managed classroom and thirdly, it is very important for the teacher to know how to manage a classroom effectively when he or she becomes a teacher.
From the perspective of the teachers, the reason for the problem was as a result of large numbers of students in the classroom, the impact on economic and social problems of students on pursuing their school work and lastly, the negative and lack of ability from parents to bring up their children due to large numbers of families.
2.2. CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT APPROACHES.
Walker and Shea (1998) suggested that it is important to have a wide range of techniques when dealing with student behaviour as no single intervention is effective with all children, or in all situations. However, a lack of adequate classroom teaching experience has been implicated as part of the management problem (Nolan 1991). The core of the argument is that most classroom management problems, particularly those that are behaviour oriented problems normally begin in the classroom. These problems are often viewed as problems that all teachers encounter in their everyday classroom experience, yet research has been found to be inadequate in this area of classroom management.
A disorderly classroom indicates ineffective classroom management. For teachers to succeed in their planned objectives, teachers need to plan how to maintain effective classroom environment in KS 4 Mathematics. Teachers need to develop strategies that will ensure order and progress in their lessons (Jones, 1989:330). In other words, teachers need to plan and decide how to deal with behaviour that is inappropriate in KS 4 Mathematics. Kerr and Nelson (1993:4) assert that one of the requirements in the teacher’s life is to make decisions instantaneously, even during crises situations. The decision on what to do depends on how strategic the teacher is in the implementation of the decision to make teaching and learning successful.
Kerr and Nelson (1993:4) further stated that the correctness of the decisions depend on the “repertoire of skills and techniques that serve to manage crisis situation effectively”.
It is important that variety of strategies that the teacher adopts constitute a plan towards the achievement of educational objectives. Jones (1989:333) agrees with the assertion by stating that, ‘a comprehensive realistic approach must therefore provide teachers with knowledge and skills for examining the classroom environment and making decisions to adjust classroom factors so as to provide students with a sense of meaningful involvement in the teaching process’. The implication of the statement is that teachers use certain strategies that must be based on informed decisions to ensure progress and involvement of students in the teaching and learning process. In support of this notion, Arends (1994:174) suggested that, “teachers who plan appropriate classroom activities and tasks, who make wise decisions, who have a sufficient range of techniques, abilities, or skills on instructional strategies will be building a learning environment that minimises management problems”.
Discipline is one of the most effective approaches which teachers use to manage classroom through the uses of rules and regulation. It enables the teachers to have a method of teaching and enforcing acceptable patterns and behaviour under a controlled orderly state in difficult or stressful environment like a classroom but the consequences are clearly visible to all students. Once the students become aware of the consequences for breaking classroom rules, then the students are more likely to behave well and pay attention during the lesson in KS 4 Mathematics classroom. Therefore, there are four rules that teachers can use to maintain discipline in and have students’ attention during KS 4 Mathematics class, for effective and understanding of Mathematics;
Firstly, the teacher must set-out classroom rule and consequences of failure by the students to abide with the rules and consequences on the first day of class and the teacher need to explain what to expect and what disciplinary action to be taken for rule breaking. If students were not clearly told from the first day of class, the students may likely claim that they were not aware of any rules. For effective teacher to start classroom management rule from the beginning of the class, every student will become aware of the rules and good conduct during KS 4 Mathematics lesson are expected from each and everyone.
Secondly, classroom management rule, expect the students to raise their hands and wait for teachers’ response before they speak or leave their seats.
Thirdly, having a classroom management approach rule in place like a reward system would impact on the behaviour of the students. That is, teacher needs to introduce a reward system for well behaved students. Teacher reward students that are well behaved and this reward system is one of the effective ways of controlling classroom disruption and encouraging students to maintain quietness and orderliness in KS 4 Mathematics.
Fourthly, classroom management rule means teachers should strictly maintain classroom procedure with consistency. This means that teachers need to be consistent in using classroom rules.
Fifthly, classroom management rule is teacher should take bullying as a zero tolerance, meaning that the teacher should not accept any form of victimisation.
The moment the rules have been established, students are expected to strictly adhere with the rules and the consequences for breaking the rules. Where a student breaks or bends the rules for the first time, it is good for the teacher to give that student a reminder. Once the student is given a reminder, that student will not want to break or bend the classroom rules again.
Teachers are to follow the reminders with warnings. This indicates that, if a student disregard teacher’s reminder, a warning will be given to such student and where such student continues with such behaviours, stricter punishment is to follow.
The final consequence is to send notice to parents or guardians. It should be noted that no student would like his or her teacher to send a notice to his or her parent or guardian about his or her misconduct or misbehaviour in school. This is likely to end the child’s bad behaviour in the class. In this regard, parents or guardians are seen as an excellent tool to utilise in classroom management.
Another positive approach to maintaining discipline in classroom challenges is called ‘Roger approach’. This approach is used to establish or create a positive school learning environment which includes more positive approach to learning behaviours, along with building teacher’s appreciation of cultural difference in relation to these behaviours.
Although this study intends to critically analyse classroom management with an emphasis on classroom management approaches, consequences and challenges, it also intends to review student behaviour in a classroom environment in relation to mathematics. Classroom challenges or disruptive behaviour in the classroom is a form of behavioural problems that interferes with student’s learning or student’s academic performance, which can sometimes threaten a teacher’s comfort and safety in managing classroom environment, harmful and also put the students on high risk in later social problems or the school as a lower academic achievement. Managing challenges in a classroom environment is a major problem faced by many teachers and one of the important factors in managing behaviour issue, is to understand why challenging behaviours are so common amongst the students. As a result of classroom challenges among the students, the research will also attempt to gain some understanding and insights experienced within the classroom which the classroom teachers encounter in managing classroom approaches to KS 4 Mathematics.
There are five strategies or techniques for effective classroom management;
1. To keep the lesson in a constant flow. That is, teachers should ensure that classes last for a reasonable period of time, and split each lesson into three varying activities, and also use trial and error to discover which methods work best for each of his or her classes, remember to note them down. By doing this, teacher tries to get the students out of their seats doing hands on practical work not only benefits those students with lots of spent up energy, it also provides unique and different learning experiences.
2. Certain type of inappropriate behaviour like restlessness and fidgeting could be stopped by avoiding dictating notes to the class for a long period of time and sometimes long talks too. As discussed above, getting students up and out of their seats in a different environment with some hands on activities can settle an energetic class.
3. Counsel students outside classroom as much as possible for good conduct. This can be done when a teacher spots the student in the lunch hall or outside the school like shops or anywhere apart from school environment and ask how they are. First congratulate them on any achievement or awards the students may have received or you use appraise culture. Once the students notice that the teacher is trying to get to know them, the student will understand that the teacher really care about them and respect them, then the students will start to respect the teacher back.
4. For teachers to work better with disruptive students who may be talking, poking each other or doing anything else unsettling during a class session the teacher should go and stand by the disruptive students but the teacher should continue to teach as if nothing is going on. This will send direct signal to those disruptive students to stop what they are doing and get back to work.
5. If none of the above strategies seems to be working such as attempted to keep them busy by trying something different, the next best option is to send them out of the classroom. If the disruptive students still defiant, the teacher should send them to see the school Head as the problems is out of his hands.
Another classroom management approach is when a student has continually disregarded a teacher’s disciplinary measure; the only classroom management technique available is to send the student to the administration office. Once the disruptive student has left the classroom, order is would be restored. It should be noted that this is generally the last alternative for teachers to deal with misbehaved students. The result is that, if a student is attempting to harm one another, it will be better to jump straight to this final proceeding. More so, a teacher must be able to adequately manage students in the classroom. The most considerable aspect of what a teacher must think of is that of consistency which is very essential. Students will take added advantage on any teachers that are not consistent in introducing disciplines for unacceptable behaviours. Following the guidelines of classroom management, teachers must have self-confident that they are doing their best.
These are tools given to assist students that exhibit inappropriate behaviours so that they can change their behaviours into appropriate manners; this is one of the greatest challenges that educators face (Gillispie, 2005).
One of the classroom management that can best be used is put forward by Thomas Phelan (1995). Thomas Phelan first developed 1-2-3 Magic strategy in 1995, with the aim of assisting parents to manage the behaviours of their children at home. This parental method was first launched to assist other parents to exercise control over their children’s behaviours. In this three stages of formula 1-2-3- magic methods, when a student misbehave or broke up the rule, the teacher holds up a finger and says this is one, if the student goes on arguing for like five seconds, the teacher holds up two of the fingers and says this is two and if the student goes on quarrelling, then the teacher holds up three of the fingers and says this is three. Thomas Phelan (1995) said, if the student is not behaving as he should, he will bear the consequence, like being sent for time out.
Other strategies that was developed by Rick Smith (2003), was to assist educators in concentrating on constructive standards by which the scheme of classroom management centre on deterrence and discipline on intercession. Rick Smith argued that constancy is the major factor in classroom management. Smith (2003) said that, if the teachers set-out correct expectations from the beginning, teachers can engage in a warm classroom atmosphere.
The last strategy for classroom management according to Schmidt (1992), which has gained recognition and popularity, is Peer Mediation. This strategy and programme are popular in courts, public sector and have been of assistance to the schools, to resolves disputes like accidents or divorces. Students get adequate training to assist in mediating issues in the school environment and provide students with proactive systems of managing classrooms and behaviours.
2.2.1. Lack of Classroom Management Approaches
Teaching as a profession requires some educational qualifications and passion for teaching. This teacher requirements varies, some requires bachelor’s degree in education while other require higher educational qualification like PGCE or master’s degree. However, there are some management challenges which teachers face from time to time. Some of these classroom management challenges can be seen as;
Teaching is a profession that requires advanced education and a love for learning. Teacher requirements vary by state. Some require only a bachelor’s degree in education while other states require additional testing or a master’s degree. This workload is designed for assignment, planning lessons, grading assignments, conferencing with students and parents and also meeting obligations by the schools and as result of the workload, stress occur and classroom challenges take place.
Lack of fund may be one of the challenges to classroom management, when schools are unable to provide adequate school materials for the students, it could result to some challenges in learning. When a small amount of budget allocation to school might result to an inability to provide learning tools like multimedia Smart boards, projectors, computers or other devices, it may lead to classroom challenges and management issues. Also, lack of funds or insufficient budget allocation to schools could lead an inadequate library, lack of appropriate books for the students, limited class size and the number of teachers may affect classroom management.
Student behaviour has been specifically implicated as one of the key classroom management issue for many teachers, especially new teachers who lack experience dealing with problem students. Some students have been known to display disruptive and even violent behaviour that makes it impossible for the teacher to manage the classroom. Teachers must develop classroom rules and consequences and adapt to new students and changing behaviours.
Parent behaviour poses a big challenge to teachers. Some parents are in habit of non-involvement of their child’s education and thereby, making it difficult for the teachers to communicate with parents in finding solution for the student improvement. On the other hand, lack of parental support may lead teachers in playing the role of parents.
One of the major classroom challenges is poor communication which some of the students faced while communicating with their peers and are unable to convey their messages. Poor communication and relationship with the teacher can create barriers to effective learning and to be an active student and effective learner in the class, students requires the ability to listen and understand, speak clearly, respond appropriately and express his or her thoughts and issues logically.
Teacher’s attitude can be referred to as disposition even though there are other factors as well. Attitude comprises of teacher’s level of enthusiasm, resourcefulness, willingness to help and knowledge of the content. All of these play an important role in the overall classroom performance. Teachers can be overwhelming and this can affect one’s attitude in the classroom. It is important to maintain a positive attitude and by doing so, this will improve one’s ability to help students learn and understand new things.
Special education is teaching students who have special needs using techniques, procedures, adapted equipment and materials suitable to their needs. This is to ensure that their learning needs are catered to, because a standard school curriculum may not do so effectively. Special needs include physical disabilities, mental disabilities, and medical conditions, learning deficits, behavioural disorders and conduct disorders.
2.2.2. WAYS OF CREATING A POSITIVE CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT
It is essential for the teachers to create a learning environment that would encourage social interactions, learning process, and self motivation. This indicates that classroom management cannot be ignored when effective learning or teaching methods are being discussed. This is why classroom management has been defined in Garrett (2008:35) as, ‘multi-faceted concept that includes the organisation of the psychical environment, the establishment of rules and routines, the development of effective relationships, and prevention of and responsive to misbehaviour’. In considering classroom management strategies as methods of establishing a positive classroom environment, planning and consideration are required for organising a classroom that will sustain constructive student behaviour. The very efficient teachers will always like to organise the classroom atmosphere in a less possible disruptive behaviours among the students, and enhances student interactions that are desirable on the path to success. In creating effective classroom structure, teachers will ensure that movement in the classroom is easy, less distractions, and teachers can relate with the students well, respond to their queries and exert improved control over their behaviours.
2.3. TEACHERS’ EXPERIENCES ON STUDENTS’ BEHAVIOUR AND ATTENTION.
Teachers’ experiences classroom disruption due to many problems of indiscipline behaviours by the students and these can be viewed as;
Favouritism: This can cause indiscipline to teachers when some students are being favoured than other students. Other students may also see favouritism as an offense against them which sometimes result to rebellion.
The rules are not enforced: When a student is not punished for an offense committed, such students are more likely to go on to commit more offense.
Lack of Communication: When rules are not clearly communicated to the students by the classroom teachers.
Teacher-student relationship: For learning to be more effective, teacher and students relationship is an essential part of learning process. In other words, if there is a breakdown in teacher-students relationship, indiscipline emerges.
Lack of leadership: When the teacher fails to perform his role as a leader, the student or students will be glad to take this role and therefore, indiscipline take place.
Lack of motivation: A situation where students are not being motivated, such students tend to work in an indiscipline manner.
Bad habit: When some group of students formed bad habits from previous teaching experiences and such students formed the habit of coming to school late, it will be hard for them to change these behaviours.
2.4. PREVENTION OF CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT DISRUPTION
There is the tendency for students to exhibit certain disruptive behaviours if they are bored by the lesson, unattended by the teacher or distracted. These factors influence the teaching or lesson of each and every teacher due to students being preoccupied by something or by finding “better things to do”. According to the observation by Good and Brophy (1991:202), ‘management problems start and spread easily when students are idle or distracted by disruptions”. This notion gives credence to the above argument positively. For instance, learners may make noise in class, shove one another, pass letters under the desks, tease one another, etc. All these are influential factors that will derail every teacher’s lesson. It is therefore important for a teacher to guard against any attempt by the learners to throw the lesson off-course. In an attempt to give more emphasise to this point, Good and Brophy (1991:203) warn that four things could happen teacher’s lesson is interfered with;
1) Learners may remain attentive and interested in your lesson.
2) Learners may become bored and lose concentration.
3) Learners may become distracted by things inside and/or outside the class.
4) Learners may actively misbehave.
These warnings suggest that a teacher must be prepared for any form of disruption and must be prepared to react accordingly. The best way therefore to guard against this is by planning your classroom activities in advance. Planning will ensure less disruption and fewer delays.
However, it is thought that the idea of class disruptions and interference is not specific to students as the only causal agent; even teachers themselves could at some point be responsible for creating an unsettled classroom that is difficult to control, manage or discipline. As noted by Arends (1994:181), it is not always the learners who cause disruptions and delays in the classroom, but teachers themselves are a contributing factor. He cites four teachers’ type of behaviours from Kounin’s research:
1) Dangle is when the teacher starts and leaves the lesson incomplete.
2) Flip-flop is when a teacher constantly interrupts the original activity with new information.
3) Over dwelling is when the teacher over-explains and over-emphasises instructional activities.
4) Fragmentation is the breaking down of the activity into small units with instructions in accompaniment.
Good and Brophy (1991) and Lasley (1987) show that the behavioural standards by referring to major elements for effective and successful classroom management as follows;
1) Preparing classroom involves readiness for classroom activities, materials and resources beforehand. For instance, making sure that the charts, models, seating arrangements and any other teaching resources are in good condition and ready for use.
2) Planning rules and procedures involve thinking about classroom norms and code of conduct for learners. They must know what kind of behaviours the teacher considers to be acceptable and appropriate. Teacher behaviours are also featured here. For instance, learners must know that coming to class late would have serious repercussions.
3) Deciding the imposition of consequences involves teachers making decisions about the repercussions that have to follow particular behaviour. In other words, teachers must know which behaviours to reinforce and which behaviours to punish. For instance, teachers need to inform learners that the teasing of other learners will result in suspension from class for the whole day.
4) Teaching rules and procedures means that the standards of acceptable behaviour must be communicated to learners. For instance, the learners must know the system under which the lessons will be conducted, such as raising a hand when attempting to answer questions.
5) Beginning school activities means that the teachers have to provide learning opportunities for learners. It is not enough to lecture to learners but they must be involved in the lessons that are being conducted by the teacher.
6) Developing learner accountability entails helping learners to become accountable for their own behaviours and work. Learners have to know that homework left incomplete will be met by serious consequences.
7) Organising instruction indicates the teacher’s ability to organise his or her work so that it suits all learners in his or her class by accommodating both slow learners and achievers equally during the whole lesson.
8) Clarifying your presentations and directions to learners involves presenting content in such a way that your learners are not lost during your teaching. That is, they must know the teacher’s point of departure and their point of departure too. Logical and systematic presentation therefore gives learners the trend that the lesson will follow.
9) Monitoring learner behaviour means that the teacher must at all times scan the classroom to ensure that learners are still attentive and concentrating. A good manager will spot problems in their initial stages. This is a way of ensuring that the lesson does not lose direction and importance. For instance, the teacher must be able to notice that learners are bored by the lesson so that he or she quickly adopts another strategy to enliven the lesson.
10) Planning strategies to deal with inappropriate behaviour suggests that teachers have to be equipped with skills of handling behaviours that might disrupt the lesson. The teacher must be able to act immediately each time a potential problem arises. It is therefore important for the teacher to anticipate problems and to deal with them. For example, if a boy teases a girl the teacher must know how to handle a situation of that nature.
11) Stopping inappropriate behaviour means that prompt and underplayed action against unacceptable behaviour must be taken immediately. However, in dealing with problem situations the teacher must be consistent and firm regarding the decision taken. For example, if the teacher has already decided that removing learners from class who make noise in class is appropriate, he or she has to keep to that decision unless it is necessary to change it.
In conclusion, to become an effective teacher, one of the important skills and experience needed is to have classroom management strategies. According to Burden (2004) said that, teachers with skills and experience to manage their classrooms, are able to establish enabling environment will learning is the main focus. Therefore, classroom management is a continuous process that needed patience, adaption and effective planning. Establishing an effective strategy that consists of rules, procedures and routines are more likely to minimise disruption and maximise learning opportunities.
As indicated in the literature review, classroom management strategies prevent disruptive behaviours. Ineffective management strategies with disruptive behaviours in the classroom will compel some professional teachers to become burn out and probably leave the teaching profession. In understanding the principles of classroom management strategies and establishing and implementing a positive classroom management strategy will reduce teacher burn out and improve learning.
Students’ Perceptions about Mathematics and Mathematics Teaching
According to Borasi, (1990) & Shoenfeld, (1985), the general notion, attitudes, and expectations of the students regarding mathematics and its teaching have been considered to be very significant factor underlying their school experience and achievement. Students have been found to hold a strong procedural and rule oriented view of mathematics and in many cases leading to non productive path. While the role of the student is to receive mathematical knowledge, the role of the teacher is to transmit the knowledge and to ascertain that students acquire it.
It is important for students to understand that there are alternative strategies and approaches to solving mathematical problems. Different ways of defining concepts and methods of constructions, applying significant aspects of mathematical experience, including formulating their own learning style and testing them. The idea is to develop their own person method or approach to mathematical tasks in order to build confidence in dealing with mathematical ideas.
Additionally and related to these concepts is the idea that students expectations of what a mathematical classroom should look like. It is expected that the teacher should develop some innovative activities to explore the best way in which the teaching environment can be modified to provide students with activities that would not inhibit the learning process.
Chris Kyriacou & Maria Goulding (2006) carried out a systemic review of research to find strategies which could help increase the amount of effort that average and below average students make to learn mathematics at KS4 and suggested that while some students feel motivated to work hard at mathematics, others do not see any reason why they should put in any effort in learning the subject.
Students’ motivation can be increased in order to put more emphasis to learning mathematics by helping students to view themselves as mathematicians by helping them to gain a deeper understanding through providing supportive classroom climate. A number of innovative strategies such as using ICT (such as interactive white boards) have been used to raise the motivation of students to work at mathematics while some researchers have suggested the use of single sex classrooms, there is no clear cut understanding regarding grouping practices on students.
It is thought that students work harder when they develop a more positive identity and to achieve this, teachers are expected to;
Ensure the provision of a caring and supportive classroom climate
Ensure the provision of activities which students find challenging and enjoyable
Teachers must be able to enable students to gain a deeper understanding of the mathematics
Teachers must be able to provide opportunities for students to collaborate
Teachers must be able to enable students to feel equally valued and respected.
Teachers must be caring and supportive and make mathematics enjoyable
Teachers must be able to make the classroom climate conducive to increasing student effort
Students’ Perceptions about Mathematics and Mathematics Classes
Students view about mathematics and mathematics classes is of special interest to the researcher. It discusses issues concerning the students experience and how mathematics teaching and learning is perceived especially in KS4 mathematics classroom. It is important to hold the view that all students are different and their cognitive approach to mathematics differ significantly from one student to another. Thus acceptance of mathematics would ultimately differ from one student to another. However, the expectation is that there should be a general acceptance level that echoes the ideas of the teachers and expectations of the curriculum.
A review of student behaviour towards mathematics suggests students are not necessarily satisfied with mathematics classroom especially with the curriculum. Where adequate books and supporting materials have been provided for the students, it still remains to be seen how students react to the books.
Some students feel that classes were different. In their view, there was too much group work, reports, investigations; there was more discussion, less work on the blackboard, more work on the notebook. They all agree that the curriculum implied more time, work and thinking. On the other hand, students have divided opinion regarding mathematics classes that are theoretical classes (mostly done through writing on the blackboard) and practical classes (exercises on the notebook). Some students have been known to prefer one activity and as such are uncomfortable when compelled to sit in the other class. In a practical sense, mathematics is viewed as always doing things and as an exercise, which is a more practical subject. However, there is a huge disagreement concerning the use of computers but the students do not have any disagreement about the use of calculators. While some students disapprove of mathematics because they consider it as a boring subject, there are others who do not like group work in mathematics.
Subject complexity and Difficulty
Several research papers have reported students have expressed perceived learning difficulties in understanding mathematics at the KS4 level. It has also been suggested that the major cause of poor take-up and acceptability is that students do not feel that they are good enough which was reported by Nardi and Steward (2003). Matthews and Pepper (2005) demonstrated that students perception of mathematics as difficult was created by information gathered from older students and even teachers. Similarly, Kyriacou and Goulding (2006) showed students are influenced by the views held by family and friends and social expectations. Some students were also reported by Matthews and Pepper (2005) as suffering from a lack of confidence in the subject. It is thought of as part of a larger problem (Hannula 2002, Pietsch et al. 2003, Kyriacou Goulding 2006).
William & Ivey (2001) observed that students often adopt a certain defiant stance towards the subject of mathematics which later becomes the basis for future action, which in turn can then give additional strength or conviction towards forming either a positive or negative perspective. Thus, a student who does not develop a positive interest in mathematics at this stage may withdraw mentally and make less effort, which will lead to learning problems and lower achievement. Dweck (2000) is in support of this notion and stated that students have the tendency to attribute apparently permanent characteristics either to themselves such as ‘I am not interested in maths’ or to the subject (‘maths is boring’). They further opined that Girls are most likely to form a laid-back view of their lack of ability in mathematics as an integral part of them.
In KS4 mathematics classroom, mathematics has been perceived as tedious, with too much individual work and rote learning (). This problem has been attributed to a lack of emphasis on engaging and inspiring students. It is for this reason that teachers have attempted to make mathematics simpler by reducing it to simple set of rules but the idea failed to enhance proper understanding of the basic and fundamental concepts. However, the study carried out by Matthews and Pepper (2005) suggested that teaching methods were also implicated as part of the reason why students have problems with understanding mathematics.
Studies into gender disparity in the KS4 mathematics classroom have found that there has been a persistent gender gap in terms of mathematics participation in the classroom especially in England.
According to Kyriacou and Goulding (2006), Boys hold higher academic self-concepts than girls in relation to mathematics, which leads them to be more likely to specialise. It is thought that female students tend to experience more difficulties and suffer from low confidence and a negative overall view. Boys tend to continue because mathematics is more acceptable and Mendick (2006), the gender differences in participation as due to mathematics being identified with characteristics of masculinity.
School Location and Physical Building
The importance of the school location and physical building also referred to as the learning environment to a successful academic achievement cannot be overemphasized, the location of the school is seen as a determinant factor in the extent of patronage such school will enjoy. Similarly, it is thought that an absolutely unattractive physical structure of the school building and its internal environment could de-motivate learners to achieve academically. This is what Isangedighi (1998) refers to as learner’s environment mismatch and according to him, this promotes poor learning.
An un-conducive atmosphere or learning environment contributes to the poor academic performance of students. Students in the KS4 mathematics classroom could be affected by factors such as an astronomical increase in population. The issue associated to a large population of students in classroom does not create a good condition for learning which can lead to poor learning and perhaps overall academic performance of students.
Further to this, there are factors or causes which have been identified as reasons for poor academic performance among KS4 mathematics students and some of the factors put forward by Asikhia O. A (2010) are;
Causation resident in the child such as basic cognitive skills, physical and health factors, psycho-emotional factors, lack of interest in school programme
Causations resident in the family such as: cognitive stimulation or basic nutrition during the first two years, type of discipline at home, lack of role model and finance
Causation resident in the school such as school location and physical building, interpersonal relationship among the school personnel
Causations resident in the society such as instability of educational policy, under-funding of educational sector, leadership and job losses
Effective approach to lesson planning and classroom management technique
An approach to teaching and an effective classroom management technique should have a good lesson plan and a teacher who is well prepared for a successful instructional experience that is dedicated to developing interesting lessons. However, it is also important to understand that without an interesting delivery method, the best planned lesson would have no good, attractive, or admirable qualities at all. It would lose its usefulness. The significance of classroom management in this perspective cannot be over emphasized but the planning must be researched, structured to account for individual style, rigorously implemented in a teaching and learning situation, and constantly evaluated.
Consequently, teachers should understand that they are not an isolated island unto themselves. The educational policy and philosophy, curriculum guidelines, learning activities, and the uniqueness of the school should not be expunged but must be taken into consideration and viewed as a guiding force behind how the classroom should be managed. On this same note, the school’s code of discipline, which should be fair, responsible and meaningful, and must be reflected in the teacher’s classroom management efforts? Researches in this area are well documented and suggested practices are listed below; establish a positive classroom environment
Make the classroom a satisfying, friendly place
Appreciate and recognize every individual differences
Enforce Learning activities that should be cooperative and supportive
Develop and approach to a non-threatening learning environment
Organize physical space; eliminate situations that may be dangerous or disruptive
Establish classroom rules and procedures and consistently reinforce them
Prepare and begin lessons by giving clear instructions
Make known your desired quality of work
Have students paraphrase directions
Encourage and ensure that everyone is paying attention
Enforce the removal of all distractions and unruliness
Describe expectations, activities and evaluation procedures
Start with a highly motivating activity
Build lesson upon prior student knowledge
Maintain student attention and orderliness
Use random selection in calling upon students
Vary who you call on and how you call on them
Ask questions before calling on a student; wait at least five seconds for a response
Be animated; show enthusiasm and interest
Reinforce student efforts with praise
Vary instructional methods
Provide work of appropriate difficulty
Demonstrate and model the types of responses or tasks you want students to perform
Provide guided practice for students; monitor responses and deliver immediate corrective feedback
Provide suitable seatwork
Seatwork should be diagnostic and prescriptive
Develop procedures for seeking assistance; have a ‘help’ signal
Develop procedures for what to do when finished
Move around to monitor seatwork
Vary methods of practice
Evaluate what has taken place in your lesson
Summarize the lesson and focus on positive gains made by students; use surprise reinforcers as a direct result of their good behavior
Determine if the lesson was successful; were goals accomplished?
Make a smooth transition into next subject
Have materials ready for next lesson
Maintain attention of students until you have given clear instructions for the next activity
Do not do tasks that can be done by students (i.e. passing out paper or collecting assignments); use monitors
Move around and attend to individual needs
Provide simple, step-by-step instructions
Utilize a freeze and listen signal, when necessary
Develop positive teacher/student relationships
Set a good example; be a positive role model
Create an exciting learning environment for all students
Reward good behaviour; create special activities that children will enjoy doing
Correct misbehaviours; have consequences of disruptive behaviour; communicate them to children
The National Curriculum for KS4 Mathematics Programme in England
The national curriculum for KS4 mathematics programme holds the view that high quality mathematics programmes is necessary in providing a solid foundation for understanding the world. According to the Department of Education (2014), curriculum aims to ensure that students; ‘become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately. In order to understand and reason mathematics, students must be able to follow a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, be able to develop arguments, justification or proof using mathematical language; students must be able to solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems, including breaking down problems into simpler steps’. According to the programme, students are required to develop and consolidate connections across mathematical ideas. Although the curriculum makes it possible for there to be adequate practice and assessment before a transition into the next level or more difficult mathematics problem, the expectation is that the students would move through the specified programme at the same pace and there is a possibility of repetition if the teachers assessment suggest that the student has not met with the requirement to proceed to a more complex mathematics problem. The curriculum specifies the following subject content;
Ratio, proportion, and rates of change
Geometry and measures
For students to work mathematically, they are expected to develop fluency, reason mathematically, and solve problems. It has also been observed that students acquire certain kind of interest towards some aspects of the mathematics programme. This affinity to certain subject content of mathematics is only specific to some students. For example, while some students prefer algebra, others could be comfortable with geometry and measures. It is thought that this observation is unique to the individual student.
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT ACROSS COUNTRIES
From an international perspective, there are catalogue of approaches to classroom management that may help describe specific areas such as practices, strategies, procedures, or habits in classrooms. It is important in this research to explore some of the usually different approaches and examples of practices by authors in several countries; specifically of interest to this research are the approaches to classroom management from a Nigerian educational perspective. Although these are not necessarily the predominant and acceptable approach in the country, they are findings from approved researches by authors. The idea of an individualistic and systemic approach has been put forward by Ben-Peretz, Eilam and Yankelevitch (2006). In their report, the two practices were proposed for classroom management in Israeli elementary education. The individualistic and systemic approaches have been found to be combined in practice in some instances. While the individual practice focuses on single students as specifically targeted by the actions of the teacher based on a careful observation of the individual student’s misbehaviour and could be interpreted as simply a behavioural approach.
Given the multicultural and multiethnic diversity of Israel, classroom environments can be characterized by cultures differences and hence clashes could result. This is where the systemic approaches becomes somewhat relevant because the practice focuses on a targeted group based on the assumption that certain individuals are shaped by their social inclination or context. Therefore it seeks to establish a standard pattern of behaviour that is considered acceptable as group norms and a meaningful connection, association and or relevance within the group in order to create a productive learning environment. It is clearly understandable that the systemic practice has its roots in the internal and ecological approaches to managing classrooms.
Berliner Bildungsserver (2005); Lohman (2003); R??edi (2002) sampled materials used in German and Swiss teacher education programmes to see what pre-service teachers are exposed to in their They observed that elements from all approaches are presented in the programmes. How a shift in this orientation could be found in the United States of America as observed by Weinstein (1998), who stated that the focus is not necessarily on the behaviour of students but on curricular and internal control methods with some emphasis on interpersonal issues. The recommendations from the materials advise teachers on appropriate behaviour. These recommendations predominantly stem from the ecological and, to a lesser degree, the discourse approach.
Psunder (2005) surveyed primary students in Slovenia in order to determine approaches to discipline as a technique. The research study observed that teachers had a higher degree of control while the capacity to make moral decisions and act on them was removed from students.
The study by Japanese authors, Shimahara (1998b) and Nishioka (2006) showed that in Japan, the problem of classroom management is to socialise students to the group. This is obviously a reflection of the cultural way of life in Japan. The idea put forward here is that classroom management practices are focused on building a classroom community where interpersonal relations and emotional bonding between teachers and students and among students are developed. In this description mainly the internal control approach is recognized.
The study of troublesome behaviour and their undesired effect in secondary school classrooms by Granstrom (2006) in Sweden observed that students’ provocative behaviour originated from emotions, expectations, disappointments, fears and fantasies that may be projected on to the teacher. He argues that students in class have their own individual personalities, their own social life and want and to pursue their own projects thereby resulting in questionable behaviour and attitude which only serve to hinder the teacher’s project. Although not often viewed as an attack but as a clash of values in its own right. Such provocations should not be treated as an assault and teachers should act accordingly. According to Lewis et al. (2005), student behaviour seems to have a direct effect of teacher aggressive strategies. It is important therefore to reinforce the need to disregard certain student behaviours as personal attack and be less inclined to respond aggressively and use more productive strategies.
In Nigeria, Adedeji Tella (2007) studied ‘The Impact of Motivation on Student’s Academic Achievement and Learning Outcomes in Mathematics among Secondary School Students in Nigeria’ and observed that motivation has impact on academic achievement of secondary school students in mathematics with respect to gender.
The result of the second hypothesis shows that secondary school students differ significantly in their academic achievement based on the extent to which they are motivated. The results reveal that highly motivated students perform better academically than the lowly motivated students. This result corroborates the findings of Bank and Finlapson’s (1980) who stressed that the successful students have significant higher motivation for achievement than unsuccessful students. Negative attitude towards mathematics from a lack of motivation could be the reason why students fail mathematics, develop negative attitude towards subjects, loss interest in the subject, Teacher’s become discouraged, resorts to traditional methods of teaching. Therefore, success in school subject or academic generally depends on many motivating factors which also includes;
Make mathematics teaching interesting.
Individual differences in ability, background and attitude must be taken into consideration.
Enhance learners feeling of esteem by arranging varieties of learning experiences.