Approaches and Techniques Adopted by Vocational Education Lecturers for Effective Classroom Management in Tertiary Institutions in Rivers State

J. Amesi, Ph.D1 & P.C. Okwelle, Ph.D2
1Department of Business Education, 2 Department of Vocational and Technical Education
Faculty of Technical & Science Education, Rivers State University of Science &Technology,
P.M.B. 5080 Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.

Abstract


The study investigated approaches and techniques adopted by vocational education lecturers for effective classroom management in tertiary institutions in Rivers State.  Two research questions were posed to guide the study and two hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance.  The entire population of 121 was studied by the researchers and no sample was drawn.    Data for this study were collected by means of questionnaire titled “Approaches and Techniques Adopted by Vocational Education Lecturers for Effective Classroom Management in Tertiary Institutions in  Rivers  State  Questionnaire (ATAVELECMTIRSQ)’’.   A  total  of  120 Lecturers who returned their instrument were studied. The questionnaire adopted a modified four point rating scale.  Test-retest method was used for the reliability test by six lecturers other than those used for the study within the institutions studied by the researchers, while the validity test yielded reliability co-efficient of 0.89.  Mean and standard deviation were used to analyse the research questions while Z-test was used to test the hypotheses. Findings revealed that some of the widely recognised techniques and approaches that lead to effective classroom management are adopted to a great extent, moderately, by vocational education lecturers in teaching as they are very useful and essentials in all aspect of classroom management. Based on the findings, recommendations made  amongst  which  were  that  vocational  education  lecturers  should  be enforce discipline in such a way that managing classroom does not have a negative impact on their dignity or destroy their motivation to teach, vocational education lecturers should not believe that the best way to deal with misbehaviour is through a preventative approach as students need to be taught core values and learn responsibility through participating in their own discipline and improvement to effective classroom management should focus on adaptation of the approaches and techniques discussed in the study as to enable vocational education lectures to successfully and accurately manage their classrooms effectively.


Key Words: Approaches, Techniques, Vocational Education, Lecturers, Effective Classroom Management,

 

Introduction

Managing a classroom effectively can be a challenge. Not knowing how to deal with disruptive behaviour and students’ lack of motivation can easily turn the classroom into chaos (Amesi; Akpomi &Amadi, 2014). The key is finding the balance between enforcing discipline and gaining respect without losing a friendly and harmonious climate that is conducive for learning.  Learning classroom management skills can help one develop preventive strategies and practical solutions to make the classes more productive.  Classroom management is a term used to  describe the process of ensuring that  classroom lessons run smoothly despite disruptive behaviour by students (Amesi; Akpomi & Amadi, 2014).    Classroom management is possibly the most difficult aspect of teaching for many teachers; indeed, experiencing problems in this area causes some teachers to leave teaching altogether.   A major reason why most teachers decide to leave teaching is as a result of fact that the teachers fail to manage time and space, challenging student behaviour and instructional strategies.    Akpomi and Amesi (2013) and Vipene and Akpomi (2009) depict that once a teacher or lecturer loses control of his or her classroom, it becomes increasingly more difficult for them to regain that control.  They further stated  that  the  time  a  lecturer  uses  to  correct  misbehaviour  caused  by  poor  classroom management skills results in a lower rate of academic engagement in the classroom.

Classroom management is one of the most important roles, which distinguish lecturers from non-professional counterparts.  Classroom management is a term lecturers use to describe the process of ensuring that classroom lessons run smoothly despite disruptive behaviour by students.  The term also implies the prevention of disruptive behaviour as it is a difficult aspect of teaching for many lecturers.   Classroom management is crucial in classrooms because it supports the proper execution of curriculum development, developing best teaching practices, and putting them into action. Classroom management can  be explained as the actions and directions that teachers use to create a successful learning environment; indeed, having a positive impact on students achieving given learning requirements and goals (Soheili;Alizadeh, Murphy, Bajestani, Ferguson &Dreikurs, 2015).

Amesi; Akpomi and Amadi (2014) opined that effective classroom management involves clear communication of behaviour and academic expectations as well as a cooperative learning environment. Classroom management is closely linked to issues of motivation, discipline and respect.   A large part of traditional classroom management involves behaviour modification, although many lecturers see using behavioural approaches alone as overly simplistic (Amesi, 2011).   Rules and procedures establish at the beginning of the school year or class by most lecturers are to ensure effective classroom management if adhered to, in other words, these rules and procedures if not followed by the learnermay barricade effective classroom management as the lecturer may decide to state rules like; raise your hands before speaking and leaving your seats, keep your hand and feet to yourself, respect your classmate and your lecturer, and listen and follow directions amongst others.

Barbetta; Norona and Bicard (2005) added that rules give students concrete direction to ensure that all  outcome based on teachers instructional delivery is consistently seen in the classroom. Barbetta; Norona and Bicard further stated that there are newer perspectives on classroom management that attempt to be holistic.  One example is affirmation teaching, which attempts to guide students toward success by helping them see how their efforts pay off in the classroom.   Similarly, Amesi and Akpomi (2013) posit that effective classroom management relies upon creating an environment where students are successful in the use of procedures not rules at adapting to effective approaches and techniques that are necessary in managing classrooms. By creating this type of environment, students are much more likely to want to do well.  Ideally, this transforms a classroom into a community of well-behaved and self-directed learners.

 

Techniques in Classroom Management

Technique is a way educators carry out a particular task especially, the execution or performance of work or procedure.  It can also be seen as a skill or efficient way of doing or achieving something.  Technique is also a systematic procedure, formula, or routine by which a task is accomplished. Classroom management techniques require educators to be greatly aware of the boundaries governing ethical behaviour between themselves and students. The following are some of the techniques lecturers need to apply in classroom management

Preparation

A lecturer needs to be prepared for teaching with techniques ranging from a counselling approach, focusing on understanding,mutually solving a problem to behaviour modification or ignoring inappropriate and reinforcing appropriate behaviour.  Inadequate preparation and low professional development are contributing factors to classroom management as teacher educators  insists  that  their  preparation  programmes  teach  classroom  organization  and behaviour management skills, but the indication is that such skills are not taught thoroughly or with adequate supervision in a real classroom context (Siebert, 2015).  Improving the ability of teachers to effectively manage classroom behaviour requires a systematic technique to teacher preparation   and   ongoing   professional   development.      Although   surveys   indicate   that experienced lecturers have fewer concerns regarding classroom management, such surveys may be less an indication that teachers learn over time how to manage classrooms effectively and more a result of the fact that many lecturers who did not learn classroom management skills simply have left the profession (Baker, 2005).

According to Brophy (2006), use of concern-based adoption model can help the teacher in preparation programmes as to ensure that they emphasize proactive, preventive techniques instead of exclusive reliance on behaviour reduction strategies.  Preparation helps in providing the lecturers with instructional techniques for classroom management through course work and guided practice with feedback.   Preparation also helps the more experienced and less experienced lecturers in creating a positive classroom context.The crucial thing here is that the lecturer need to be prepared for the lesson or topic before coming to the class, this makes the lecturer to exercise confidence in teaching, over plan lessons to ensure the period is filled with learning activities and also move around the classroom to ensure that students pay attention more readily (Amesi, Akpomi & Amadi 2014). Lecturers may have focused too much on what to do when students misbehave and therefore perceive discipline techniques as something separate from teaching techniques, only to be employed if and when problems arise (Akpomi & Amesi, 2013).

Effective teaching:

Classroom management is an integral part of effective teaching, as it helps to prevent behaviour problems through improved planning, organizing and managing of classroom activities, better presentation of instructional material and better teacher-student interaction, aiming at maximizing students’ involvement and cooperation in learning.

Corporal punishment:

Corporal punishment refers to causing deliberate pain or discomfort in response to undesired behaviour by students.   It often involves striking the students either across the buttocks or on the hands, with an implement such as a rattan cane, wooden paddle, slipper, leather strap wooden yardstick (Wikipedia, 2017).  Until recently, punishment was widely used as a means of controlling disruptive behaviour, but it is now no longer fashionable, though it is still advocated in some contexts by researchers.

 

Rote discipline:

Also known as “lines,” rote discipline is a negative sanction used for behaviour management.   It involves assigning a disorderly student sentences or the classroom rules to write  repeatedly.    Among  the  many  types  of  classroom  management  approaches,  it  is commonly used (Amesi&Akpomi, 2013; Bear, 2008, and Akpomi, 2002).   Other techniques for effective classroom management includes; focusing attention on entire class, do not talk over student chatter, silence can be effective, use of softer voice so students really have to listen to what you are saying, direct your instruction to enable students know what is going on, make sure classroom is comfortable and safe for the learners and show confidence in your teaching.

 

Systematic Approaches to Classroom Management

Approaches are ways of dealing with a situation or problem.  It is also ways of doing or thinking about something. While approaches are ways of dealing with situation or problem, adopted is all about choosing to take up or follow an idea, method or course of action.  Adopted is also a way of taking on the legal responsibilities as lecturers or teachers.   The following are some of the systematic approaches to classroom management:

The Good Behaviour Game (GBG)

The Good Behaviour Game was originally used in 1969 by Barrish, Saunders & Wolf as a “classroom-level approach to behaviour management”.   The Game entails the class earning access to a reward or losing a reward, given that all members of the class engage in some type of behaviour (or did not exceed a certain amount of undesired behaviour). The GBG can be used to increase desired behaviour of students like question asking or to decrease undesired behaviour like out of seat behaviour management.   The GBG has been used with pre-schoolers as well as adolescents, however, most applications have been used with typically developing students such as those without developmental disabilities. In addition, the GBG “is usually popular and is also acceptable to students and lecturers’’ (Tingstrom, Sterling-Turner & Wilczynski, 2006).

 

Discipline with dignity (DWD):

Curwin and Mendler in Gray (2013) viewed that discipline with dignity is one of the most widely practiced behaviour management philosophies in the world.   The programme is utilized in more than 12 different countries. Discipline with Dignity provides an in-depth flexible approach for effective school and classroom management.  With a strong focus on developing responsibility, it is a comprehensive, practical programme that leads to improved student behaviour through responsible thinking, cooperation, mutual respect, and shared decision- making.

Tools for teaching (TFT):

Bear,  Cavalier  and  Manning  (2005)  viewed  tools  for  teaching  as  a  classroom management method on speaking tours and in the eponymous book series.  To Amesi (2014), effective utilization of teaching tools is what makes a lecturer different from another.  The major difference between a skilful lecturer and unskilful lecturer is not ultimately in the job they do, but on the hidden truth that skilful lecturers does what unskilful lecturers is not willing to do which could be effective utilization of appropriate tools for a certain class lecture.

Discipline without stress, punishments or rewards (DWSPR):  Marshall (2001) and Okwudishu (2005) opined that this is a discipline and learning approach. The approach is designed to educate young people about the value of internal motivation. The intention is to prompt and develop within youth a desire to become responsible and self-disciplined and to put forth effort to learn. The most significant characteristics of DWSPR are that it is totally non coercive (but not permissive) and takes the opposite approach to Skinnerian behaviourism that relies on external sources for reinforcement.

Approaches and techniques to classroom management do not only relate to management of students behaviour but they involve lesion plan of the teacher, organization of the materials for teaching, controlling of behaviour, goal based learning process, supportive atmosphere and effective maintenance of teaching and learning experience within the classrooms.  Approaches and techniques to classroom management are most often regarded as a complex exercise in the process of education because it demands talents, skills, energy and ability from the lecturer hence, it deals directly with the behaviour of both the learner and the instructor.

 

Common Mistakes in Classroom Management Techniques

Amesi; Akpomi and Amadi (2014); DiGiulio (1995); Marshall (2001) and Wong and Wong (2009) opined that in an effort to maintain order in the classroom, sometimes lecturers can actually make the problems worse.   Therefore, it is important to consider some of the basic mistakes commonly made when implementing classroom management techniques.

A common mistake usually made by lecturers is to define the problem behaviour by how it looks without considering its function. Interventions are more likely to be effective when they are individualized to address the specific function of the problem behaviour. Two students with similar looking misbehaviour may require entirely different intervention strategies if the behaviour are serving different functions. Lecturers need to understand that they need to be able to change the ways they do things regularly as the children change. Not every approach works for every child. Lecturers need to learn to be flexible.

Another common mistake is for the lecturers to become increasingly frustrated and negative when an approach is not working.  The lecturer may raise his or her voice or increase adverse consequences in an effort to make the approach work. This type of interaction may impair the lecturer-student relationship. Instead of allowing this to happen, it is often better to simply try a new approach.

Inconsistency in expectations and consequences is an additional mistake that can lead to dysfunction  in  the  classroom.  Lecturers  must  be  consistent  in  their  expectations  and consequences to help ensure that students understand that rules will be enforced. To avoid this, lecturers should communicate expectations to students clearly and be sufficiently committed to the classroom management procedures to enforce them consistently.

Another mistake is where a lecturer do not know that he or she occupies the position of a mentor to the learner (student).   There is a problem of lack of practical mentoring for the learners. Practical mentoring here involves a mentor at the fore-front, instructing the mentee to follow after his or her example.   A lecturer at this stage is supposed to teach and point out to their mentees things to do and the path way to follow that leads to success.

Another common mistake is where a lecturer do not know that he or she occupies a strategically central position in the galaxy of education of the learners (students).  To this, it demands for effectiveness in the classrooms, as it is often said that a quality lecturer is not necessary a competent lecturer and a competent lecturer is not necessary an effective lecturer.  All that is needed in the classrooms is effective lecturers in vocational education programme.

 

Statement of the Problem

Vocational  education  lecturers  in  tertiary  institutions  in  Rivers  State  need  effective approaches and techniques for classroom management as the ability of lecturers to organize classrooms  and  manage  the  behaviour  of  their  students  is  critical  to  positive  educational outcomes. Though, these approaches and techniques exist prior before now, most lecturers do not adopt them while performing their duties as lecturers. Lack of adaptation of these approaches and techniques by lecturers  in  vocational education,  may impede the  transfer of  knowledge to students  and  by  extension  affect  the  academic  performance  and  outcome  of  students. Observation shows that most lecturers in vocational education do not adopt the techniques such as preparation before entering class, not being focus at what they are doing at that time and moment, not teaching effectively, rote discipline among others.  It has also being observed by the researchers that vocational education lecturers do not appreciate good behaviour game, positive classroom management, assertive behaviour and discipline without dignity among others. These approaches have been found to be effective in classroom management. However, teachers’ failure and  frustrations in getting students to engage with class materials and participate in class  activities while also maintaining a high sense of self respect, dignity and motivation has questioned the ways, means and methods adopted by the teacher in classroom management. Furthermore, do teachers even consider these techniques? Are they even aware of their existence and practicality in modern times?

 

Purpose of the Study

The aim of this study is to ascertain the approaches and techniques adopted by vocational education lecturers for effective classroom management in tertiary institutions in Rivers State. Specifically, the study was to:

  1. 1. Determine the techniques adopted by vocational education lecturers in managing classrooms in tertiary institutions in Rivers State.
  2. 2. Determine the approaches adopted by vocational education lecturers in managing classrooms in tertiary institutions in Rivers State.

 

Research Questions

Two basic questions were raised here

  1. 1. What are  the  techniques  adopted  by  vocational  education  lecturers  in  managing classrooms in tertiary institutions in Rivers State.
  2. 2. What  are  the  approaches  adopted  by  vocational  education  lecturers  in  managing

classrooms in tertiary institutions in Rivers State.

 

Null Hypotheses

In this study, two hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 percent level of significance:

  1. There is no significant difference in the mean responses of more experienced and less experienced vocational education lecturers on techniques adopted by them in managing classrooms in tertiary institutions in Rivers State
  2. There is no significant difference in the mean responses of more experienced and less experienced vocational education lecturers on approaches adopted by them in managing classrooms in tertiary institutions in Rivers State

 

Methodology

The study was conducted in Rivers State of Nigeria, where two of the tertiary institutions in Rivers State that offer degree programmes in vocational education were used for the study. The researchers were interested in the two institutions because they are degree awarding institutions that have vocational education programmes.  The study adopted a descriptive survey research design.  The population of the study was 121 lecturers, made up of more experienced (Lecturer 1 to Professors) and less experienced lecturers (Graduate Assistant to Lecturer II) within the scope of the researchers.  Details of the population are shown in Table 1.  The entire population was studied by the researchers and no sample/sampling was considered necessary because the size of the population was manageable.  Data for this study were collected by means of questionnaire developed by the researchers from insight gained from literature review and titled “Approaches and Techniques of Vocational Education Lecturers for Effective Classroom Management in Tertiary Institutions (ATVELECMTI)”. The ATVELECMTI has two parts “A” and “B”.  Part A sought information on the selected personal background of the respondents, and it contained three items.  Part B sought information on the opinion of the lecturers regarding the topic of the study and was broken into two as each contained five question items.  The questionnaire adopted a modified four point rating scale as follows: Highly Adopted (HA = 4 points); Adopted (A = 3 points); Moderately Adopted (MA = 2 points) and Not Adopted (NA = 1 point). The initial copy of the instrument was validated by six lecturers other than those used for the study within the institutions studied by the researchers.  Test-retest method was used to test the reliability of the items and a reliability coefficient of 0.89 was obtained using Cronbach Alpha reliability method. The researchers and two research assistants trained by the researchers personally distributed 121 copies of the instrument to the respondents, with accompanying letters of appeal.   In all, 120 copies of the instrument sent out were retrieved, which amounts to 99.4 percent return rate. Mean and standard deviation was used to analyse the research questions while z-test was used to test the hypothesis.   The criterion used for assessment of the responses are: Highly Adopted (3.50 – 4.00), Adopted (2.50 – 3.49}, Moderately Adopted (1.50 – 2.49), and Not Adopted (0.50 –  1.49)  and if  the  calculated z-value is  greater than the  critical  or table z-value, the null hypothesis is rejected in favour of the alternative hypothesis.

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