Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Kinesiology and Recreation

Committee Chair

Skip M. Williams


If students are not engaged, they cannot be learning (Stright & Supplee, 2002). Student engagement relies heavily on the environment of a classroom, as well as the management of behaviors before and during a lesson (Him & Scott, 2014). Student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education. (George Lucas Educational, 2011 In many cases, a lack of student engagement can be attributed to a discrepancy in behavior management competence on the teacher’s behalf—often a result of limited teacher preparation (Lavay, Guthrie, & Henderson, 2014). The purpose of this study was to examine the perception of behavior management differences among pre-service and novice physical education teachers.

Participants for this study were undergraduate students in their final year of an accredited PE program, and practicing Physical Education teachers (n=25 males and n=24 females), ranging in age from 21 to 53. Researchers gave similar surveys to both sub-groups related to their perceptions of behavior management in the PE classroom. Surveys included both Likert scale multiple choice questions, and open-ended questions. Questions ranged from behavior management philosophy, use of specific behavior techniques, to the perceived relationship between classroom management and behaviors in the PE environment. The survey was distributed via an embedded link in an email invite after researchers obtained lists of possible participants, and remained open and available for approximately 6 weeks. Results pertaining to specific behavior management techniques showed that there was a significant difference in the techniques being used by the two sub-groups. That is, results showed that novice PE teachers are more likely to use reparation (M = 2.32, SD = .8) and verbal reprimand (M = 3.64, SD = .49) than pre-service teachers (M = 1.83, SD = .56; M = 2.96, SD = .69). Pre-service PE teachers feel better trained in behavior management techniques (M = 3.5, SD = .93) than novice teachers (M = 2.71, SD = 1.0). Novice PE teachers apply behavior management strategies (M = 4.8, SD = .40) more often than pre-service teachers (M = 4.13, SD = .99).

Qualitative data analysis of open-ended responses showed many trends among Novice teachers, specifically around positive reinforcement, relationship building, and verbal reprimand. There were less trends among responses of pre-service teachers, however many expressed the need for more training with specific behavior situations. When asked about the role of a principal or dean of students, both groups’ perceived administrators as support for student removal, as well as the authoritative figure that oversees all behavior systems and structures. Finally, both groups seemed to agree on the idea of clear and consistent routines and expectations in the classroom.

The results of this study showed that physical educators, practicing or perspective, perceive behavior management to be important. Yet, many of the same educators are not, or did not receive sufficient training in the area of behavior management. The results of this study indicate the need for more in-depth, and ongoing training in the area of behavior management. Recommendations for future research regarding behavior management in PE is discussed.

KEYWORDS: Behavior Management; Physical Education; Pre-service Teacher; Novice Teacher; Undergraduate; Classroom Management


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