An investigation of practitioner and parent causal attributions for perceived challenging behaviour in Early Years Foundation Stage

Geoghegan, Rheanna (2022) An investigation of practitioner and parent causal attributions for perceived challenging behaviour in Early Years Foundation Stage. DAppEdPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

PDF (Thesis - as examined) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Available under Licence Creative Commons Attribution.
Download (2MB) | Preview


Challenging behaviour in schools is a widely discussed topic, with an array of negative impacts identified for pupils, staff, and parents. Research indicates that the attributions held by key adults can impact the support that they give to young people exhibiting these behaviours, including their interactions, relationships, behaviour management, and intervention implementation (Försterling, 2001). Attributions for challenging behaviour have previously been explored for primary and secondary age pupils (Lambert & Miller, 2010; Miller, 1995; Miller et al., 2002). However, staff and parent attributions in relation to Early Years have not been specifically researched. It has been identified that there may be differences in attributions for behaviour in younger children compared with older children (Dix et al., 1986; Johnston, Patenaude, & Inman, 1992; Phares, Ehrbar, & Lum, 1996). The present study aims to explore parent and practitioner causal attributions for challenging behaviour relating to children aged 3-5 years old, in the context of Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

This study implements a non-experimental, fixed design using a survey method to gather the views of parents and practitioners following three stages: development of the measure through focus groups, an online survey, and analysis of data via factor analysis.

This resulted in the extraction of a 5-factor practitioner model and a 3-factor parent model. Overall, findings revealed that both groups attributed behaviour mostly to external, situational causes and perceived the most important factors influencing challenging behaviour within this age group to be ineffective setting practices and adverse home circumstances. A level of congruence was identified between the factor models, suggesting similar perspectives on causes of challenging behaviour between the groups. The findings suggest that both groups acknowledge their potential role in influencing behaviour in 3–5-year-olds. The research suggests that patterns of attributions differ when relating to younger children, which may have implications for helping behaviours in EYFS settings, in work with parents and pupils, and for how external agencies assist with this.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DAppEdPsy)
Supervisors: Durbin, Nicholas
Keywords: Early Years Foundation Stage, Challenging behaviour
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 69897
Depositing User: Geoghegan, Rheanna
Date Deposited: 31 Dec 2022 04:40
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2022 04:40

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View