Strategies For Changing Socially Undesirable Classroom Behaviour In Secondary School

Strategies For Changing Socially Undesirable Classroom Behaviour In Secondary School

Strategies For Changing Socially Undesirable Classroom Behaviour In Secondary School

In Nigeria, there has been a general public outcry about undesirable behaviour in the society and schools. Indiscipline at this moment is cruel in the entire educational system.

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It manifests itself in different guises but the type that engages our attention is indiscipline among children in secondary schools.

Indiscipline is at very low ebb in many schools, the tendency is for everyone, concerned to exculpate and blame the lapses on others. Nwankwo (2000), observed frivolities and lack of discipline among present day youth and blamed parents for making little effort or no effort in molding the behaviour of their children.

Students’ violence has become increasingly the greatest occupational hazard of the teaching profession in recent times and hardly a week passes without news of the student unrest resulting in unwanted destruction of school properties. Eze (2006); destruction of school properties, injuring members of staff and destroying laboratory equipment, were sent home. In some cases, student loots staff belonging and burn their cars.

The existence of undesirable behaviour in school has contributed to the allegation and belief that the standard of education is falling. Teachers re also accused of not controlling the students adequately on the falling standard of education. Folayon (1977) during a seminar on “The falling standard of education” organized by the Ondo State conference of principals of Grammar school, expressed unhappiness about the decline of the quality of education in the state, which he described as very discouraging and saddening. He revealed that out of 5199 candidates that sat for the West African school certificate examinations in 1976, that 2309 were successful while 2890 fail. Only six out of the successful candidates passed out in aggregate six. Consequently, reintroduction of corporal punishment has been effected in some states. For instance Edo State ministry of education legalized corporal punishment in school and issued a twelve point guideline as to its administration. Though there is public awareness concerning the existence of undesirable behaviour or disciplinary problems in schools. No much work has been done in Nigeria particularly at secondary school classroom level to classify these behavioural disorder with a view to finding out adequate techniques for changing them for the improvement of teaching and learning in the classroom.

Studies on related topic did not look into the strategies employed in changing these behavioural disorders or their effectiveness. However, Agwu (1974) concluded that there is a positive relationship between students’ behaviours towards subject and the mark they earned. Eleh (1977) reported publicly on the awareness of the existence of indiscipline in secondary schools, the factors responsible for it and teacher attitudes towards discipline.

From the forgoing, it can be deduced that no study has been done specifically on different types of undesirable behaviours exhibited by students and methods adopted by teachers to change those behaviour disorders. It is in order to fill this gap that the researcher has deemed it fit to embark on this study.

Statement of the Problems

The type of behaviour that students in secondary schools exhibit in the classroom affect the way and manner they assimilate learning experiences. These behaviour could be socially desirable or socially undesirable. It is common to find out that some students who have problem with their teachers in the classroom for example, truancy may be afraid of school work and may some times do not come out with good results. Such students not only perform badly but also contributed to the other students not achieving their best.

However, these socially undesirable behaviour could be changed through the use of constructive strategies. It is the concern of this study therefore to identify these strategies employed to change socially undesirable classroom behaviour of student in secondary schools in Agwu Local Government Area Enugu State.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to investigate the strategies for changing socially undesirable classroom behaviours in secondary school in Agwu Local Government Area Enugu State. Specifically, the study will:

1. Ascertain if referral is a useful strategy in changing students’ undesirable behaviour in classrooms.

2. Determine if use of corporal punishment contribute positively in changing socially undesirable classroom behaviours of students.

3. Determine if counseling is a good strategies employable to change socially undesirable classroom behaviour in secondary schools.

4. Ascertain if reinforcement is a useful strategy adoptable to changing socially undesirable classroom behaviour in Agwu Local Government.


Significance of the Study

It is properly hoped that the result of this study will motivate the secondary school teachers towards the effective use of strategies adopted for changing undesirable behaviour. It will serve as a written document which will help the educators in general to modify undesirable classroom behaviour in secondary school. It will expose the performance of the teachers and counselor which in turn will attract many investors in educational business.

Further more, it is also hoped that the result of the study will even an unbiased evaluation for the ministries of education and to see clearly the effectiveness of their educational programme.

Base on that, the result of the study will enable the federal government, state and local to see clearly those areas that the teachers who are teaching in Awgu Local Government need assistance so as to enhance their effectiveness. The result of the study will also help the parents and society at large to appreciate the importance of teachers and counselor in educational system

Scope of the Study

The scope of the study is to find out the strategies for changing socially undesirable classroom behaviour in secondary school in Agwu Local Government Area of Enugu State. The study also aimed at finding out how the undesirable behaviour help for the effective modification of classroom behaviour in secondary school in Agwu Local Government Area of Enugu state. It also covers the roles of teachers toward the school implementation of the strategies for modifying undesirable behaviour.

Research Questions

In order to find out the strategies employed for changing socially undesirable classroom behaviour in secondary school student in Agwu Local Government, the following research question were formulated.

1. How does referral contribute to the strategy employed for changing socially undesirable classroom behaviour of secondary school student?

2. How does use of corporal punishment inculcate socially undesirable classroom behaviour into secondary school students?

3. How does school counseling contribute to the strategies employed to change socially undesirable classroom behaviour?

4. How does reinforcement attribute to the strategies for changing socially undesirable classroom behaviour in secondary school student?



In this chapter related literature and views of others will be reviewed under the following sub-headings:

1. Meaning of behaviour and undesirable behaviour

2. Types of undesirable behaviour

3. Characteristics of children with undesirable behaviour

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4. Causes of undesirable behaviours

5. Strategies used for modifying undesirable behaviour

Meaning of behaviour and undesirable behaviour

What is Behaviour?

Behaviour as seen by Achebe (1988) is “an activity of an individual due to his interaction with environment”. Essuman, Nwaogu, and Nwachukwu (1990) see it as “any activity of an organism which is either overt or covert”. One may therefore concluded that behaviours is the sum total of all the activities of an organism (both observed and unobserved) as he interacts with his environment. Behaviour can be triggered in human being by a number of physiological as well as environmental factors. Some of this behaviour patterns may please the people around the organism, making them desirable.

What is Undesirable Behaviour?

Undesirable behaviour as seen by Ndua-Ozo (2005) is any behaviour pattern that fail to meet with the norms of the environment. A persons behaviour is normal in so far as he can make his thought and behaviour conform to the major moral and social values of his cultural group. Normality is relative to culture pattern. Some kinds of behaviour considered undesirable in our society may be normal in another. This is also applies to sub-cultures within a wider culture pattern. Some also may be normal for one child or adults but abnormal for another. For example, an introverted child will find it less easy to make friends with other children than with an extrovert. Ideas of abnormality may change with time. A reformer in his own generation may be looked upon as maladjusted and dangerous Crank. In the next generation, he may be looked as intelligent progressive and normal.

Types of Undesirable Behaviour

According to Agbaegbu (1996) behaviour disorder can be classified into three groups namely

1. Socially maladjusted behaviour

2. Emotional disturbed behaviour

3. Personality disorders behaviour

The Socially Maladjusted

Socially maladjusted child as seen by Agbaegbu (1996) is “a child who is rebellious often disobeying his parents, teachers and other adults. He goes against the cultural values and rules set out by the community. He obey rules and regulations set out by his peer group. Secondary school classroom is made up of teachers and student’s belonging to the school community and this school in turn belong to larger society that supports and sponsor it. From this link, it is clear that what affects the classroom reflects the society at large. Lawel (1987) considered that a child is socially maladjusted if he is developing in ways which have a bad effect on himself or his follows, ways which may not be remedied by parents or teachers. The socially maladjusted are often characterized by the following features:

1. Inadequate moral development which makes child indulge in the act of stealing, lying, disobedience destructive, fighting, cheating, all this law violate classroom behaviour.

2 He is rebellious and impulsive thereby refusing to accept any form of authority.

He is always in trouble at school and home

3. He may appear easear going and friendly, but lack acquisition of inter-personal relationship

The Emotional Disturbed

Lawell (1987) see emotionally disturbed children as children who have inner tentions and fears that lead to anxiety, such children are not good at making friends because the cannot establish close satisfacting emotional things with other people. They are children with emotional problems, severe enough to prevent them from making the necessary adjustment for functioning in the society. These children are withdrawn and live in social isolation. They are friendless because they are abusive, distructive, unpredictable, quarrelsome , jealous. Because of all these, people like teachers to avoid them. Other examples of emotional disturbance are fear, anxiety, anger and hyper-activity which results into restless.

Personality Related Undesirable Behaviour

Inadequate personality is a disorder or undesirable behaviour found in some people who show poor judgement and are socially inept. Woodruff (1987) suggested that healthy mental development depends on the adequate reduction of personal need that primary and secondary school children bring. If a child is unable to make appropriate responses in the circumstance and frequently obtain only partial success in reaching his goal, he may eventually suffer mental breakdown. However the selection of goals itself depends upon the psychological adjustment of the child. It also depends on his sentimental level of aspiration, the insight he has into his own conditions, and potentialities. They seen apathetically indifferent. Such children may develop delinquent adjustment pattern. They express their feeling of deprivation or neglect in aggressive behaviour which becomes a serious problems in a school community.

Children with personality undesirable behaviour have been usually exposed to psychological or social stress such as neglect or overindulgences over a long portion of their life. personality disorder are as follow Neuroses, socio-pathetic personality, drug abuse, Alcoholism etc.

Characteristics of Children with Undesirable Behaviour

Some social and emotional characteristics serve as pointers to help teachers and parents identify children who have behaviour problems. A person (child) who is emotionally disturbed and socially maladjusted exhibit actions and reactions that are symptoms of his problem. Children who have their behavioural problem often exhibit these features through their covert activities. Their type and extent of their social interaction will expose them.

Hallahan and Kauffman (1978) Admin (1991 and Iwuama (1993) identified undesirable behavioural children;

1. By way of aggression a behaviour disorder child will express his fears and anxiety toward his peers and teachers in the classroom. He is very hostile trying to take law into his hands.

2. The child may marked dislike for school turning into a truant in order to show resentment for school routine and regulation which may fetch him expulsion.

3. The child exhibit inappropriate behaviour under normal condition. He always centre normal attention on one several organs of the body. Example, thumb, sucking, nail biting and hair pulling, always complaining of the aches and pains.

4. He is a child who seriously and persistently misbehaves and taken delight in causing bodily injury to other children and destroying schools, homes, and public properties. He is cruel and buckies other children.

5. The behaviour disordered children generally woody and unhappy in situations where others express excitement and happiness.

6. The child is easily agreed and exhibit frequent temper

7. Some times such child may attempt to solve his anxiety problems earlier form of behaviour. He gets feeling of achievement since he knows how to deal with problem at immature level.

8. A behaviour child resorts to day dreaming and withdrawal instead of being aggressive, he gives not socialize or relate well with his teachers and peers.

9. He is hyperactive, running about aimlessly, chnibing on things frequently and unable to concentrate on school work.

However, its worthy of note that no single child exhibits all these characteristics for a behaviour to be termemed disorder or undesirable, it has to be persistent and continuously repeated.

Causes of Undesirable Behaviour

Olayinka (1971) says the prevalence of disciplinary problems in the classroom is symptomatic of fundamental deficiencies in the school situation. Among of many things may be wrong perharps the curriculum is obsolete and only remotely related to the basic needs of young people. More often than is realized, the trouble can be traced to the economic or the emotional situations in the homes. Frequently, though less often than is assumed, heredity plays a part in individual cases. The mores of a community provide a ceiling beyond which the teachers’ ideas cannot penetrate except by accident. The lack of a unifying philosophy of education on the part of the staff members results not only in a lack of teamwork on disciplinary cases but for more important, deprives the school of a traditional of desirable standards and practices. Finally, the teacher’s personality man be the basic causes of much or the trouble.

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Obe (1976), identified nine major cause of undesirable behaviour as

1. Influence of parental and home background

2. Corrupt society

3. Physical or emotional sickness of the students

4. Need for social approval

5. Inappropriate curriculum

6. Government laxity

7. Boarding system

8. Principal’s administrative style

9. Teachers personality and methods.

Erhurun (1986) simply classified the causes of undesirable behaviour in the school into three, namely: The home, the environment or the society and the school.

Cause of undesirable within the home include lack of parental care, neglect of children’s school needs acts of laziness, profane talk and disrespect exhibited by parents that their children always carry to school, cases of alcoholic parents, broken home and stepmother syndrome.

Supporting Erhurun (1986)’ s view about home as a major causes of undesirable, Obe (1979) says a child’s behaviour is often a reflection of his home training and evaluation of both parents and teachers, hence these adults should be alive to their responsibilities and practice what they preach. Problem children usually come from homes where desirable is either too lax, too permissive or too dictatorial. In homes where discipline is highly rigid and dictatorial, the pupils reaction at school may range from apathetic submissiveness, too open rebellion, destructiveness and truancy. On the other hand, when home discipline is lax, (as we often find in broken homes, or where parental ambition is highly materialistic) the children enjoy too much freedom get over-indulged, disrespectful and often end up as drug addicts and alcoholics.

Environmental factors include factor within the home and school environment that aid acts of undesirable behaviour. Factors within the school that aid undesirable behaviour include the location of the school, population of students, population of teachers, classroom congestion, teachers personality and his method of teaching and lack of adequate security.

Social approved of the school child is very important, our youths cherish recognition and lack of praise, recognition and approval may lead school children to divert their energy to other negative activities which may win then needed attention and approval from their mates

An inappropriate curriculum often lead to restlessness, inattentiveness and classroom disorderliness, hence an inappropriate curriculum can aid indiscipline in our schools. When a topic is obsolete, irrelevant to children’s need, too difficult, too theoretical and unrelated to their immediate practical experience, the result is that students may react with withdrawal sleeping off, truancy and other aggressive behaviour. On the other hand, if it is too easy and unchallenging, the brilliant student in the class may respond by exhibiting various acts of undesirable behaviour such as reading other books, walking out on the teachers, staying away from class, and so on.

Shortage of teachers in quality and quantity, chaotic, ill-equipped, poorly ventilated and over crowded classrooms are contributory factors to undesirable behaviour in the schools.

The principals administration style and teachers personality and methods may also aid undesirable behaviour in the classroom and school in general.

Strategies for Changing Socially Undesirable Classroom Behaviours

The strategies are referrals, corporal punishment, counseling and reinforcement.


Referral as seen by Shertzer and Stone (1981), is the act of transferring an individual to another person or agency for specialized assistance not available from the original source. According to Olayinka (1993), referral is a mutual operation rather than unilateral one on, the part of the teacher. However, in order for referral to be effective, the client must share in the responsibility. Referral should be seen as a normal process of assisting the child to adjust. The teacher as a counseller is not a therapist and should not overstep the limit of his role. Children who require more help than he can give should referred. Before a teacher can make a referral, he needs to know the resources in the school, community and the type of services they provide.

Referral according to Olayinka (2005) can be made in the following cases.

1. Health and physical condition that require the attention of a nurse or doctor.

2. Severe emotional disturbance indicated by day-dreaming, flight from reality, depression, lack of interest and extreme over consciousness.

3. Problems deep-rooted on home conditions.

4. A prolonged deviation from usual pattern of behaviour from sociability to unfriendliness.

5. Problem too deep for expression, inability to talk over the difficulty etc.

However, students classroom undesirable behaviour have to be referred to the appropriate person that help change the undesirable classroom behaviour, the individual student should be referred to counselor, parents, principal, labour master and other teachers.


Corporal Punishment

According to Omebe (2005), punishment is that which reduces the frequency of the behaviour which it follows.

Corporal punishment as seen by Andero and Stewart (2002), is any intervention which is designed to or likely to cause physical pain in order to stop or change undesirable behaviour. The most typical form of school corporal punishment is the striking of a students buttocks with a wooden paddle by the school authority. This is because the authority believes the student has disobeyed a rule, Arcus (2002). According to Owen (2005), canning, picking pin, sweeping the compounds, digging trenches are most of the corporal punishment used in the schools.

Discipline is important and schools should have a strong role in teaching to be self-disciplined. Self-disciplined is the ability to make appropriate decisions about one behaviour in that situation out to ordinarily perform the appropriate behaviour when unsupervised by adults. Robinson (2000), came up with the view that corporal punishment should be introduced in the primary and secondary schools. In his view, he pointed out that the phobia derived by the individual student will automatically change the undesirable behaviour of the student. However, centre for effective discipline (2005), noted that corporal punishment is a technique that can easily be abused, leading to physical injuries. In his view, he comment that school authority should take proper care to avoid injury. The major aim of corporal punishment is to eliminate or reduce undesirable behaviour, (Omebe 2005).


Counseling is one of the strategy used for changing undesirable classroom behaviour in the secondary schools. According to Shertze and Stone (1981) counseling is seen as a process in which the counselor assists the counselee to make interpretations of facts relating to a plan or adjustment which he need to make. Makinde (1983) referred to counseling as the brain heart of guidance programme, and indicated that there is counseling in guidance. The Webster’s new world dictionary (1962), identified a legal adviser at an embasy, a lawyer, and a person in charge of a group of children at a camp as a counselor. Shetzer and Stone (1981) also identified counseling as a process which takes place in one – to – one relationship between an individual, troubled by problems, which he cannot cope alone, and professional worker whose training and experience have qualified him to help others reach solutions to various types of personal difficulties. Patterson (1980), stated that a concept can be defined by exclusion or designating what a thing is not. Excluding what counseling is not would help us understand better. Counseling is also relationship which facilities growth and change in the client to become more freely and fully functional.

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A professional counsellor uses counseling for changing undesirable classroom behaviour. According Lundegreen (1976), the following techniques are use for effective modification of undesirable classroom behaviour, they are: cognitive restructuring, primack principle, proximity control, systematic desensitization and modeling


In psychology, to reinforce mean to present or terminate a stimulus, which will strengthen response. A reward which is presented to an organism is a positive reinforcer, while a reward which is terminated is a negative reinforcer, Magoon and Garrison (1976). Reinforcement is further defined as the creation of desirable consequences that will strengthen or facilitate certain behaviour, (shertzer and stone 1980). According to Omebe (2005) reinforcement is any action, event or stimulus, which tends to increase the frequency or duration of occurrences of behaviour. Skinne (1953) categorized reinforcement into two-positive and negative.

Positive reinforcement when a pleasant stimulus added to a response occurring again under similar conditions, such stimulus is called a positive reinforcement. In the other words, any event which when presented to an individual increases the behaviour in question is a positive reinforcer (Olayinka 2005). For example social act. Food is a positive reinforcer for hungry man; again a child who did well in a subject and was consequently rewarded with good grade, good grade is positive reinforcer because there is the probability that he will strive to do better in the same subject in future because of the good grade was reinforced.

Negative reinforcer: These are those unpleasant stimuli which a learner would to do eliminate or terminate if given the opportunity to do so, Denga (2005). Omebe (2005) see it as unpleasant stimulus to the client eg social disapproval or condemnation by peer groups. In negative reinforcement, an organism does something to avoid something. When a child behaves abnormal with the immediate punishment such stucle receive will turn the other undesirable one to be desirable in order to be rewarded.

According to Olayinka (2005) he pointed out that behaviour that is rewarded is likely to be repeated to different kind of things are rewarding to different kind of people.

Regards may be; material (eg. money, food or gift) social (eg. a smile or a word of praise), curiosity-satisfying (eg. Invitation to a new play) sensory satisfying (eg. Window shopping)

Summary of Review Related literature

The view of this related literature has that behaviour can be triggered in human being by a number of physiological as well as environmental factors, (Nduka-Ozo 2005), undesirable behaviour is any behaviour pattern that fail to meet with the norms of the environment. A persons behaviour is normal in so far as he can make his though and behaviour conform to the major moral and social value of his cultural group (Nduka-Ozo 2005). According to Agbaegbu (1996) see socially maladjusted child as a child who is rebellious often disobeying his parents, teachers and both the adults. And however, there are other group under his classification which comprises emotional disturbed behaviour and personality disorder behaviour.

Some socially emotional characteristics of children serve as pointers to help teachers and parents identify children who have behaviour problem. Erhurun (1986) classified the causes of undesirable behaviour in the schools into three” The home, the environment and the school. He pointed out that home is the pot of child education and should handle with care. Also stated that social approval of the school children is very important. He also mentioned that our youth cherish recognition and lack praises. Recognition and approval may lead school children to divert their energy to other negative activities which may win them needed attention and approval from the mates.

In the same vein, strategies employed for changing socially undesirable classroom behaviour was reviewed. The strategies are; “Referral, corporal punishment, counselling and reinforcement. They are useful strategies employed for changing e undesirable behaviour in the schools.



In conclusion, this study has been able to identify various strategies changing socially undesirable classroom behaviour in Agwu Local Government Area of Enugu state. Equally, from the contributions of various people, we observe that strategies for changing socially undesirable classroom behaviour should be introduced in secondary school in Agwu Local Government in particular and Enugu state in general. Therefore, principals, counselors, teaching staffs and non teaching staffs and at the same time parents should joint hand and ensure proper handling of strategies employed for changing socially undesirable classroom behaviour in secondary schools.

The Government should also ensure that provision of gift materials for reinforcement and also adequate structure should be built in the secondary schools.

Implication of the Study

The standard of strategies employed for changing socially undesirable classroom behaviour has been drastically reduce the children with undesirable behaviour in Agwu Local Government Area of Enugu State. This is as a result of referring student to the best expert who can help them solve their problems.

Furthermore, corporal punishment has been effective in Agwu Local Government Area. However, the pain and insult received by the student that are undesirable prevent them from been undesirable to desirable. Also counseling has contributed positively in changing the undesirable behaviour as well as reinforcement. The use of rewards, praises, etc has positively effect on changing the undesirable behaviour.


Considering the findings made in this study, the following recommendations were made:

1. Seminars should be organized for secondary school teachers especially those with little or no professional training. Such seminars should aim at helping teachers understand their own behaviour and those of students.

2. Regular and surprise inspections of schools should be intensified to help check teachers who serve, as bad models to their student.

3. In keeping the National policy on education (1977) trained counselors who should be posted to secondary schools and workshops on counseling should be provided with well equipped counseling centre and should be organized for teachers to equip them basic skills of counseling.

4. Provision should be made for materials reinforcement to maintain desirable behaviour and to change undesirable behaviour.

5. Government and parents should not interfere with principal or teacher s delegated by him include attempts to change socially undesirable behaviour of students.

6. The government should provide mere accommodation for student and also more instructural materials for effective learning.

Strategies For Changing Socially Undesirable Classroom Behaviour In Secondary School

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