An investigation of teachers' and teaching assistants' causal attributions for challenging behaviour in primary school settings

Raspin, Sarah (2019) An investigation of teachers' and teaching assistants' causal attributions for challenging behaviour in primary school settings. DAppEdPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The negative impact of challenging behaviour within the primary school classroom is widely acknowledged, with research indicating that the attributions held by school staff can affect their approach to behaviour management, as well as their overall motivation and confidence in supporting challenging behaviour. The present study aimed to explore the causal attributions made by school staff for challenging behaviour observed in pupils aged 4-11.

This study implemented a non-experimental, fixed design and utilised a survey strategy to elicit the views of primary school teachers and teaching assistants (TAs). The first stage involved the development of the survey measure, which was updated from a previous attribution questionnaire (Miller et al., 2000, 2002) through the use of focus groups and piloting procedures. This was then distributed both in paper and online form to school staff across the local authority (LA). The final sample taken forward for analysis included 195 teachers and 153 TAs.

Data were analysed using factor analysis, which led to the extraction of a 5-factor model for teachers and 4-factor model for TAs. Similarities and differences are noted within the models, with both populations perceiving factors relating to difficult home circumstances to be the most important in terms of influencing challenging behaviour. Teachers also assigned a high level of importance to negativity within the school environment and ineffective classroom management strategies, while TAs perceived this to be the least important factor within their model. Both participant groups indicated a self-serving bias in their attribution patterns, although this appeared to be more prominent among TAs. Overall, the attributions of TAs within the present study seem to align more closely with the attributions made by teachers in previous studies. However, present teacher attributions appear to be variable, providing some support for previous studies, but also indicating new attributional patterns.

Methodological limitations are addressed and the implications of this study are outlined. These include the need for professionals to acknowledge the similarities and differences between the attribution patterns demonstrated by teachers and TAs, as well as schools ensuring that resources are targeted in a way that responds to these views. Finally, implications for future research are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DAppEdPsy)
Supervisors: Lambert, Nathan
Keywords: Attribution Theory, behaviour, causal attributions, teachers, teaching assistants, factor analysis, early childhood education, challenging behaviour
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1050 Educational psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary education
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 57359
Depositing User: Raspin, Sarah
Date Deposited: 20 May 2021 09:51
Last Modified: 20 May 2021 10:00

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