Problem behaviour in students: viewpoints and interventions




Rolland, Michèle
Langevin, Louise

Teaching in a CEGEP sometimes means intervening with students who exhibit problem behaviours that may or may not include aggression and may sometimes involve situations of distress. What exactly are these problem behaviours and what interventions do they require? Unlike primary and secondary levels of education, where numerous studies have been undertaken, very little is known about the present situation in colleges. Various assumptions have been put forth to explain the problem behaviour of CEGEP students experiencing difficulty, including a lax approach to education, the “child-king” phenomenon, the fact that working too many hours outside of school becomes detrimental to the time invested in studies, lack of motivation, etc. These remarks show a definite concern among an ever-increasing number of CEGEP teachers and intervenors. Reflecting on problem behaviours and the appropriate interventions brings out the predominant role of values and how they influence teachers’ perceptions relative to acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and, therefore, the interventions to be applied. These behaviours may call for interventions that teachers must be in a position to use. When it comes to the problems of their students, several factors help explain the attitude of teachers (Dunkin and Barnes, 1986). Some are linked to their personal background: the impact of their own history or their past experiences as students, their personality. Other factors relate to the profession: their training as teachers or researchers, the type of students they are teaching (gender, ethnic origin), the level of student attention during the courses and the evaluation received from the students. Finally, other factors are connected to the context: the size of the college, the type of college, the philosophy behind the discipline, the predominant social culture and lastly, the type of program taught. Given that all communication is interactive, and notwithstanding the teaching method used, these factors influence the way in which teachers intervene with students and consequently, student behaviour.


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