Teachers' perceptions of incivility in the mathematics classroom
Exposure to incivility in the workplace is a type of job stressor that appears to be on the rise. Studies have claimed that incivility may be a precursor to more overt, deviant behaviours such as aggression and violence (Andersson & Pearson, 1999). The current study investigates incivility in a school context -with interactions occurring between students and teachers. There is a growing body of literature examining the nature of teacher-child interaction suggesting that teachers make a unique contribution to children's social and cognitive development. The study attempts to capture teacher observers' perceptions of incivility with special attention being placed on interactions between teachers and students with mathematics anxiety. Specifically, how individuals perceive uncivil behaviours that are in response to an initial uncivil behaviour versus how individuals perceive uncivil behaviours that are the result of mathematics anxiety symptoms. I hypothesize that teacher observers will mistake mathematics anxiety symptoms as uncivil behaviours in students. Furthermore, I hypothesize that when the teacher is responding to an uncivil action, participants will rate the uncivil response as more justifiable when no mathematics anxiety symptoms are explained than when mathematics anxiety symptoms are explained. I hypothesize the opposite for the student responding to an uncivil action -participants will rate the uncivil response as more justifiable when mathematics anxiety symptoms are explained than when no mathematics anxiety symptoms are explained. As such, 94 school teachers enrolled in Nova Scotia Master programs in Education completed questionnaires that involved reading and responding to questions about four scenarios related to teacher and student interactions. The description of the behaviour of the student was manipulated such that the respondent was either told that the student had mathematics anxiety, or no explanation was given. Moreover, there were two student actor vignettes, and two teacher actor vignettes. The initial and responding behaviour by either party, however, was always uncivil. The results of the study indicated that all four vignettes showed significant interactions between incivility ratings (for the instigators' and respondents' actions) and condition (mathematics anxiety depicted or no mathematics anxiety depicted). Both hypotheses were supported. This study provides a greater understanding as to how individuals may perceive the very same uncivil behaviour differently, based on whether or not they have an attribution for the behaviour. In one case, individuals may justify acting uncivilly if it is the result of mathematics anxiety symptoms. In the other case, individuals may justify acting uncivilly if it is in response to an initial uncivil behaviour; therefore, showing a tit-for-tat perspective.
Nova Scotia , Classroom management , Teacher-student relationships , Mathematics