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Positive behaviour for learning: Aiming to implement a workable, positive and sustainable approach to managing student behaviour
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Paper presented at the AARE Conference, Canberra, Australia, 29 November to 3 December 2009
Disruptive student behaviour not only impedes learning outcomes for students but also impacts
negatively on teacher efficacy and wellbeing (Lewis, 1999; Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy,
2001). Teachers who feel overwhelmed and undermined by poor student behaviour, low student
engagement and motivation are less effective in the classroom. These teachers frequently revert to
coercive and ineffective forms of discipline when challenged with difficult behaviour (Lewis, 1997).
Consequently, the establishment of workable, positive and sustainable processes for dealing
productively with student behaviour issues remains an educational challenge. This research examines
the effectiveness of a behaviour management approach adapted from the United States, Positive
Behaviour Interventions and Supports (PBIS) into the New South Wales Department of Education and
Training Western Sydney Region (NSW DET WSR), which was renamed Positive Behaviour for
Learning (PBL). Study 1 examines the attitudes of students, staff and parents to the implementation
of PBL whereas Study 2 examines the impact of PBL on students’ motivation and self-concept. Study
1 found that teachers implementing PBL had positive attitudes towards strategies of promoting
positive behaviour. Parents reported high levels of satisfaction with PBL and there were mixed
findings for students’ attitudes toward PBL. Study 2 compares schools implementing PBL
(experimental) with schools on a wait list (control). There were more favourable results for the
experimental group compared with the control group in terms of: (a) student academic self-concept,
and (b) student motivation. Although PBL is underpinned by principles of behaviourism, teachers
interpreted and implemented techniques which sometimes aligned with social constructivist
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