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The effects of teachers' classroom management practices on disruptive or aggressive student behaviour

Additional Info

  • Authors: Regina Oliver, Daniel Reschly, Joseph Wehby
  • Published date: 2011-06-24
  • Coordinating group(s): Education, Social Welfare
  • Type of document: Title, Protocol, Review, Plain language summary
  • PLS Title: Effective multi-component classroom management programmes seem to improve student behaviour in the classroom but further research is needed
  • PLS Description: Effective classroom management is a preventive approach which establishes a positive classroom environment in which the teacher focuses on appropriate student behaviour. This review studies the effect of multi-component classroom management programmes on disruptive behaviours, and which of the components are most effective.
  • Title: The effects of teachers' classroom management practices on disruptive or aggressive student behaviour
  • See the full review:

About this systematic review

This Campbell systematic review examines the effect of teacher classroom management practices on disruptive or aggressive student behaviour and which management practice is most effective. The review summarises findings from 12 studies conducted in public school general education classrooms in the USA and The Netherlands. Participants included students from Kindergarten through 12th Grade.

What are the main results?

Overall, teachers’ classroom management practices have a significant positive effect in decreasing aggressive or problematic behaviour in the classroom. Students in the treatment classrooms in all 12 studies reviewed showed less disruptive or problematic behaviours when compared to the students in control classrooms without the intervention.

It is not possible to make any conclusions regarding what component of the management practices is most effective due to small sample size and lack of information reported in the studies reviewed.


Disruptive behavior in schools has been a source of concern for school systems for several years. Indeed, the single most common request for assistance from teachers is related to behavior and classroom management (Rose & Gallup, 2005). Classrooms with frequent disruptive behaviors have less academic engaged time, and the students in disruptive classrooms tend to have lower grades and do poorer on standardized tests (Shinn, Ramsey, Walker, Stieber, & O’Neill, 1987). Furthermore, attempts to control disruptive behaviors cost considerable teacher time at the expense of academic instruction.

Effective classroom management focuses on preventive rather than reactive procedures and establishes a positive classroom environment in which the teacher focuses on students who behave appropriately (Lewis & Sugai, 1999). Rules and routines are powerful preventative components to classroom organization and management plans because they establish the behavioral context of the classroom by specifying what is expected, what will be reinforced, and what will be retaught if inappropriate behavior occurs (Colvin, Kame’enui, & Sugai, 1993). This prevents problem behavior by giving students specific, appropriate behaviors to engage in. Monitoring student behavior allows the teacher to acknowledge students who are engaging in appropriate behavior and prevent misbehavior from escalating (Colvin et al., 1993).

Research on classroom management has typically focused on the identification of individual practices that have some level of evidence to support their adoption within classrooms. These practices are then combined under the assumption that, if individual practices are effective, combining these practices into a package will be equally, if not more, effective. Textbooks are written and policies and guidelines are disseminated to school personnel based on these assumptions. Without research that examines classroom management as an efficient package of effective practices, a significant gap in our current knowledge base still exists. Understanding the components that make up the most effective and efficient classroom management system as well as identifying the effects teachers and administrators can expect from implementing effective classroom management strategies represent some of these gaps. A meta-analysis of classroom management which identifies more and less effective approaches to universal, whole-class, classroom management as a set of practices is needed to provide the field with clear research-based standards.

This review examines the effects of teachers’ universal classroom management practices in reducing disruptive, aggressive, and inappropriate behaviors. The specific research questions addressed are: Do teacher’s universal classroom management practices reduce problem behavior in classrooms with students in kindergarten through 12th grade? What components make up the most effective and efficient classroom management programs? Do differences in effectiveness exist between grade levels? Do differences in classroom management components exist between grade levels? Does treatment fidelity affect the outcomes observed? These questions were addressed through a systematic review of the classroom management literature and a meta-analysis of the effects of classroom management on disruptive or aggressive student behavior.

Twelve studies of universal classroom management programs were included in the review. The classroom-level mean effect size for the 12 programs was positive and statistically significant (d=.80 with an ICC=.05; d=.71 with an ICC=.10; p<.05). Note that cluster adjustments were required due to differences in reporting measures between classroom level outcomes and individual student level outcomes. The resulting effect sizes index classroom-level differences and cannot be compared to the typical student-level effect sizes commonly reported in the literature. Due to a lack of power to detect heterogeneity and lack of information reported in the studies reviewed, only the first research question could be addressed.

Teachers' classroom management practices have a significant, positive effect on decreasing problem behavior in the classroom. Students in the treatment classrooms in all 12 studies located for the review showed less disruptive, inappropriate, and aggressive behavior in the classroom compared to untreated students in the control classrooms. The overall mean classroom effect size of either .80 or .71 indicates a positive effect that significantly impacts the classroom environment. To put our classroom-level mean effect sizes into a comparable format with the more typical effect sizes, we back-transformed our mean effect sizes using the original adjustment formulas (Hedges, 2007). Thus, the classroom-level mean effect sizes of .80 and .71 are roughly comparable to student level effect sizes of .18 and .22 for ICC=.05 and ICC=.10, respectively. Teachers who use effective classroom management can expect to experience improvements in student behavior and improvements that establish the context for effective instructional practices to occur.

See the full review

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