05 SES 05 A, Examining Bullying and Conflict
Conflicts between teachers and students in the classroom are common in everyday school life. They arise from interactions between the teacher and individual students and the classroom as a whole. Conflicts at the classroom-level indicate how students and their teacher generally interact with each other and which level of conflict characterizes the classroom climate. The level of conflict is defined as a continuous pattern that underlies everyday interactions between the teacher and the student group. Even in the absence of actual conflicts, the level of conflict shapes the behaviours and perceptions of all individuals in the classroom and carries the potential for further conflict escalation. A higher level of conflict in a classroom puts teachers and students at risk of academic failure and health problems. Students with internalizing and externalizing emotional and behavioural problems frequently get into conflicts with their teachers. Higher proportions of these students in a classroom are associated with a higher level of conflict. Emotional support allows teachers to solve conflicts with individual students in a constructive way. But it is unclear to what extent emotional support also works in classrooms with a higher proportion of students with internalizing or externalizing problems. The present study was guided by two hypotheses: 1) the proportion of students with internalizing or externalizing problems in a classroom is positively correlated with the level of conflict, holding other potential predictors constant (e.g. average grades or socioeconomic background). 2) Classrooms with a higher proportion of students with internalizing or externalizing problems exhibit a lower level of conflict, if teachers demonstrate better emotional support. The results confirm that in classrooms with a higher proportion of students with emotional and behavioural problems, the level of conflict is lower when teachers demonstrate higher quality emotional support.
In our study 200 integrated secondary schools in Berlin were contacted by e-mail and telephone. 7, 8 and 9 grade level classes and teachers in these classes were invited to participate. A total of 452 students and 39 teachers from 9 different school types could be recruited for the subsequent data collection. The survey was conducted both in writing and online. Only 18 classrooms were in included in the final analysis due to missing data. Emotional and behavioural problems, as measured by the German version of the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), were found in 23% of the participating students. A similar prevalence was reported in a cohort longitudinal study on the health of children, adolescents and young adults in Germany (KIGGS). We used Care from Tripod 7Cs framework in order to assess emotional support. To measure the level of conflict we used scales from an existing Student-Teacher-Relationship Scale. Corresponding indices were calculated using classroom averages and finally z-standardized. The data were analysed with STATA 14. To test the hypotheses, two multiple linear regression models were developed with the dependent variable level of conflict in a classroom and the three independent variables internalizing problems, externalizing problems and emotional support. Interaction coefficients were analysed to test hypothesis 2. Each model controls for the socioeconomic status, average grades in the last six months and the proportion of students who speak other languages than German at home. Research suggests that these variables are potential predictors of conflicts at the classroom-level.
Hypothesis 1 states that classrooms with a higher proportion of students with internalizing or externalizing problems have a higher level of conflict, holding average grades and student background characteristics constant. Results confirm this hypothesis. The relationship between the proportion of students with externalizing problems and the level of conflict in a classroom is highly positive and significant (standardized coefficient=.53, p<0.01). The relationship between the proportion of students with internalizing problems and the level of conflict in a classroom is also highly positive and significant (standardized coefficient=.60, p<0.01). Hypothesis 2 states that classrooms with a higher proportion of students with internalizing or externalizing problems have a lower level of conflict when teachers demonstrate better emotional support. Results confirm this hypothesis. The interaction terms between emotional support and the amount of students with different emotional and behavioural problems are significant. The interaction term with the proportion of internalizing students correlates with a lower level of conflict (standardized coefficient=-.66, p<0.01). The interaction term with the proportion of externalizing students also correlates with a lower level of conflict (standardized coefficient=-.95, p<0.01). These findings demonstrate, that classrooms with a higher proportion of students with emotional and behavioural problems experience a higher general level of conflict in everyday school life. Students and teachers in these classrooms are at a higher risk of academic failure and health problems. The findings also highlight the importance of teachers’ emotional support in preventing higher levels of conflict in these classrooms. Teacher education and teacher development curriculums should emphasize emotional support as a necessary component of inclusive education. Further research is necessary to understand longitudinal conflict dynamics in these highly disadvantaged classrooms and analyse potential causal inferences.
Goodman, R. (1997). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: A Research Note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38(5), 581-586. Hendrickx, M., Mainhard, M., Boor-Klip, H., Cillessen, A. & Brekelmans, M. (2016). So-cial dynamics in the classroom: Teacher support and conflict and the peer ecology. Teaching and Teacher Education, 53, 30–40. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2015.10.004 Ingemarson, M., Rosendahl, I., Bodin, M. & Birgegård, A. (2019). Teacher’s use of praise, clarity of school rules and classroom climate: Comparing classroom compositions in terms of disruptive students. Social Psychology of Education, 23 (1), 217–232. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11218-019-09520-7 KiGGs. (2014). Faktenblatt zu KiGGS Welle 1: Studie zur Gesundheit von Kindern und Jugendlichen in Deutschland – Erste Folgebefragung 2009 – 2012. Retrieved from Berlin, GER: https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/Gesundheitsmonitoring/Gesundheitsberichterstattung/GBEDownloadsF/KiGGS_W1 /kiggs1_fakten_psych_auffaelligkeiten.pdf?__blob=publicationFile Neubauer, W. (2017). Konflikte und Konfliktbewältigung im Unterricht In M. K. W. Schweer (Ed.), Lehrer-Schüler-Interaktion Inhaltsfelder, Forschungsperspektiven und methodische Zugänge (3., überarb. u. aktual. Aufl. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Sabol, T. J., & Pianta, R. C. (2012). Recent trends in research on teacher-child relationships. Attachment & Human Development, 14(3), 213-231. doi:10.1080/14616734.2012.672262 Schönbächler, M.-T., Herzog, W. & Makarova, E. (2011). „Schwierige“ Schulklassen: Eine Analyse des Zusammenhangs von Klassenzusammensetzung und wahrgenommenen Unterrichtsstörungen. Unterrichtswissenschaft, 39 (4), 310–327. Tripod. (2016). A guide to Tripod's 7Cs framework of effective teaching. Retrieved from Cambridge, MA: http://www.scsk12.org/instructional/files/2017/Student%20Feedback/Guide%20to%20Tripod%27s%207Cs%20Framework.pdf Zee, M., de Jong, P. F., & Koomen, H. M. Y. (2017). From externalizing student behavior to student-specific teacher self-efficacy: The role of teacher-perceived conflict and closeness in the student–teacher relationship. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 51, 37-50. Zimmermann, D. (2018). Pädagogische Konzeptualisierungen für die Arbeit mit sehr schwer belasteten Kindern und Jugendlichen. Vierteljahresschrift für Heilpädagogik und ihre Nachbargebiete, 87 (4), 305-317. http://dx.doi.org/10.2378/vhn2018.art35d
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