The antecedents of low-level classroom disruption: a bio-ecological perspective

PhD Thesis

Bartholomew, S. 2018. The antecedents of low-level classroom disruption: a bio-ecological perspective. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences
AuthorsBartholomew, S.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

Low-level classroom disruption (LLCD) is the fundamental behavioural issue in primary schools across England. Typically defined as surface-level behaviours (Esturgó-Deu & Sala-Roca, 2010), LLCD includes talking unnecessarily, fidgeting, distracting others, rocking on the chair and daydreaming (Ofsted, 2014). Educational literature has extensively referenced LLCD, making inferences about the potential antecedents, from within the classroom to the wider contexts (home and societal factors). However, and contradicting this, LLCD is viewed as a concept controllable by effective teachers at classroom level. Thus, research is typically classroom based, and centred round the management and control of LLCD. To date no psychological research has investigated the bio-ecological antecedents of LLCD.

This mixed methods study pioneers this line of enquiry. By applying the Person, Process, Context Time Model of Development (Bronfenbrenner, 1985) processes that influence behaviour were considered. Key Stage Two pupils aged 8-11 years (N=274) from 3 schools in England, provided quantitative data at two time points (with a year lag between) recording: gender, peer pressure, executive function, global self-worth, appropriate conduct, home chaos, screen time, sleep, television in bedroom, and extra-curricular activity. A sub-sample of these pupils’ parents (N=58) reported on their own personal screen time use, parenting practices and the family’s socioeconomic status. Semi-structured interviews with members of teaching staff (N=8) provided an in-depth account of the lived experience of LLCD in the classroom providing evidence of the impact LLCD on staff and pupils.

Results show a significant increase to the presentation of LLCD across the two time points for the whole pupil sample, with male pupils displaying significantly higher levels of LLCD than the female pupils at both times. Findings also indicated at both time points that higher screen time use in the home context was directly associated with increased LLCD in the school context for the whole pupil sample. For the male pupils only this association was partially mediated through increase in proneness to boredom. The repeated measures investigations found the relationship between screen time and LLCD to then be converse, with increases in LLCD significantly related to higher screen time for the male pupils, suggesting a cyclical reciprocal pattern of influence. Repeated measures analysis also suggested converse gender differences between the pupils’ self-perceived appropriate conduct and LLCD. For the male pupils a significant result was found indicating that a lower self-perception of appropriate conduct was associated with a higher presentation of LLCD whereas, for the female pupils a higher perception of their own appropriate conduct was associated with a lower presentation of LLCD. The semi-structured interviews with teaching staff (N=8) supported the Ofsted (2014) report of LLCD having a negative impact on both the teaching and learning that takes place in the classroom. These and other results indicate that consideration needs to be given to the influences of low-level classroom disruption not only from the classroom context but also from outside the classroom, such as in the home.

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Publication process dates
Deposited17 Sep 2019
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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