The Effect of a Mathematics Methodology Course on Teaching Efficacy

Subject: Education
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Study level: PhD

Literature Review


Teacher education studies have for quite some time been considered as one of the factors affecting teachers’ behaviors, attitudes as well as effectiveness. Self-efficacy is referred to as the manner through which an individual organizes him/herself for the purposes of accomplishing certain goals. The concept is considered as one’s belief and ability to accomplish required degree of learning and behavior. The idea was introduced by Bandura (1977), and forms one of the most crucial components of social learning theory. According to Bandura (1986), various expectations associated with personal efficacy revolve around crucial principal sources of information.

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First, there is accomplishment in performance which incorporates past success and failure influences efficacy beliefs, secondly, there is vicarious experience which entails comparison with other people’s performances which ultimately determines levels of self-competence based on personal experience with task. Thirdly, verbal persuasion proves to be influential factor especially when it is realistic and based on credible experience. Finally there is a physiological aspect such as individual’s health status which affects self-efficacy judgments.

Efficacy beliefs generally determines and govern people’s thinking, feelings, level of motivation and the extent to which behavior can influence an individual in spite of unfavorable circumstances. Self-efficacy beliefs provide the strongest link between knowledge and applications.

In this case realization of effective performance depends on the extent to which knowledge, skills and efficacy beliefs are utilized. High level of efficacy beliefs causes individuals to work effortlessly towards their goals despite encountering obstacles, and ultimately remain more faithful to intended struggle (Schunk, 2007, p. 105-129). According to Hoffman (2010), self-efficacy has significant effect on problem-solving response time and efficiency of pre-service teachers. Richardson and Liang (2008), investigated the effects of inquiry based mathematics and science courses on pre-service teachers efficacy beliefs and established an increased efficacy beliefs on the pre-service teachers who attended these courses.

According to Woolfok and Spero (2005), pre-service teachers’ efficacy beliefs decreased in the process of preparation and teaching students. Such levels fall drastically with increased experience during first year of teaching. However, the level of efficacy belief of an individual teacher develops based on attainment hence not easy to change. Positive impact realized on pre-service teacher’s efficacy during preparation programs enables them to adopt more effective teaching behaviors with time.

Research done by Bandura (1997), portrays teachers as crucial factors especially when considering implementation of teaching programs; this gives direction on how new teaching programs should be handed over to pre-service teachers through training. Teaching of mathematics as a course requires detailed programs such as New Elementary Mathematics Education Program which is helpful in the field of innovations.

There are a number of courses incorporated within mathematics teaching curriculum and are considered accommodative since they are offered in different percentage packages. These packages include such programs as content education courses, professional courses on teaching and information on background studies. According to Bandura (1977), efficacy beliefs are usually determined by individual’s previous performances within teaching institutions.

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Lower self-efficacy beliefs can be associated with prior negative experiences of pre-service teachers in mathematics. However, significant results on the level of self-efficacy beliefs can be obtained through interviews conducted on pre-service teachers. Research by Bandura (1986), further revealed that the level of reluctance identified amongst pre-service teachers towards mathematics as a course greatly affects their self-efficacy beliefs. According to Cakiroglu (2008), the idea on teaching self-efficacy beliefs varies depending on early teaching experiences. This qualifies the act of increasing the level of pre-service teachers’ efficacy beliefs which is crucial for teacher education programs.

Teaching Self-Efficacy

Teachers play crucial role in teaching students within classrooms irrespective of their background, abilities and learning disabilities. Students are raised from different family backgrounds either stable or unstable depending on environment and parental supportive measures. Such situations determine the extent to which students are ready to learn (Ryan, 2007). This requires teachers to acquire more knowledge on classroom management within educational sector since it influences to a greater extent, the level of teacher performance (Emmer and Hickman, 1991).

It is important that teachers organize themselves through classroom management. This assists them in overseeing classroom activities revolving around learning, social interaction as well as behavior of various students (Martin et al, 1998a). Such classroom management approach is categorized as either interventionist or interactionalist (Martin et al., 1998a; Allinder, 1994). Interactionalist model represents the aspect of low level teacher control classroom management style, while interventionist model believe in students learning ethical behavior through teachers intervention measures such as rewards and punishments.

Non-interventionalist model champions for the fact that students should be allowed to exercise their behaviors based on inner drive which is capable of exerting significant influence within classrooms (Tauber, 1999). Students acquire host of behaviors as a result of interaction with external environment comprising of people and objects. This calls for shared responsibility in the management of classrooms (Hoang, 2009).

However, self-efficacy beliefs enable teachers to believe in themselves and their ability to perform on their jobs. This enables teachers to conduct meaningful lessons resulting into excellent management of classrooms (Ritchie, 2006; Doyle, 1986). Pre-service teacher’s sense of efficacy belief determines the extent to which they can execute their duties during teaching programs. Henson (2001), concluded that teacher’s efficacy beliefs determines their progressive abilities which is ultimately reflected in student’s performance and behaviors. Those with high self-efficacy beliefs are known to have good classroom management skills, hence employing better, student-centered and organized classroom strategies (Anthony and Kritsonis, 2007).

According to Sharon (2003), teachers of high self-efficacy portrayed high level standards when it comes to controlling beliefs concerning classroom management. They are known to apply positive strategies in controlling classroom issues. Study was conducted by Chambers et al. (2001), which involved investigation of relationship between personality, personal self-efficacy and teacher classroom beliefs.

The results were obtained from all concepts and compared based on instructional classroom management, of which personal teaching efficacy beliefs was given first preference due to its accurate results. At the same time, prospective teacher’s belief about students determines the extent to which they organized various classrooms. High level of self-efficacy also enables teachers to be more humanistic in their attitude towards students.

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Chambers (2003), did extensive research based on classroom management and pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs. The results revealed that those who applied high levels of self-efficacy in behavior recorded frequent application of excellent classroom management behavior. The same results were reported by Giallo and Little (2003), who echoed the fact that teachers with high classroom management self-efficacy proved effective in dealing with negative behaviors amongst students.

According to research by Goyette et al. (2000), classroom management presents one of the most challenging tasks to teachers. Classroom management involves organizing learning-teaching activities, student behavior and responsibilities within classrooms as well as creating conducive environment for learning programs. Such organizations present clear indication on level of classroom management and resulting effects on the quality of teaching and learning programs.

There are times when teachers encounter harsh treatment and misbehavior from students resulting into disruption of learning processes. This calls for upgrading of teacher’s skills for the purposes of dealing effectively with planned teaching activities. Disruptions on normal teaching processes occur in cases where teachers have to deal with discipline on students. This presents negative results on students affecting quality of instruction from their teachers. In this regard, all activities surrounding classroom management should be carefully considered since they provide useful environment where teachers effectively execute their duties and teaching processes (Soodak and Podell, 1993).

Most teachers’ concern about education is majorly centered on classroom management issues (Martin, Yin, & Baldwin, 1998a), owing to the close relationship between self-efficacy beliefs and classroom management styles. The success of such individuals within classrooms also depends upon teacher’s belief in their ability to influence positively student learning (Henson, 2001; Chambers and Hardy, 2005). According to Chambers (2003), there is profound need to learn teacher’s classroom management styles since it has an ultimate impact on the various factors influencing variables used in teaching.

Various modifications within classrooms are necessary for instance; there are situations where teachers employ stricter means to achieve effective management styles. Training and educating teachers on intervention methods assist teachers sharpening their level of creativity concerning classroom learning environment. In most instances, pre-service teachers are recommended for such training since their first experiences in teaching profession requires adequate application on classroom management and self-efficacy beliefs. This affects their teaching and implementation of applied learning tasks (Romi & Leyser, 2006). Pre-service teachers are normally introduced to teacher education programs for the purposes of enforcing their classroom management skills and strategies (Chambers & Hardy, 2005; Gencer & Cakıroglu, 2007).

Mathematics Efficacy

According to Bandura’s self-efficacy conceptualization (1977), a scale was developed for the purposes of measuring teacher’s general sense. The instrument developed was referred to as Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES). The scale is further subdivided into two; Personal Teaching Efficacy (PTE) and General Teaching Efficacy (GTE). The same scale was also shared by Gibson and Dembo (1984), and widely adopted in various studies hence providing enough proof on the importance and construct of teacher efficacy (Tschannen-Moran et al., 1998). Teachers considered to have high degrees of efficacy are able to apply the use of various instructional strategies for the purposes improving students’ level of understanding within classrooms (Riggs & Enochs, 1990; Wenta, 2000; Ball et al., 2005).

On the other hand, those considered as having low level efficacy prefers the use of teacher-directed strategies. These strategies include those things such as lectures within classrooms and reading from recommended class textbooks (Czerniak, 1990). The level of teacher self-efficacy belief determines his/her diligence despite difficulties, and also determines personal commitment towards teaching and classroom management not forgetting positive behaviors and new teaching methods (Ghaith & Yaghi, 1997). Higher level of self-efficacy belief contributes towards students’ better performance in academics (Swars, Daane & Giesen, 2006).

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The use of MTEBI instrument revealed that mathematics teaching efficacy provides some level of influence on pre-service teachers’ efficacy beliefs in the process of teaching mathematics (Cheung, 2006). According to research done by Utley, Bryant, and Moseley (2005), mathematics teaching efficacy beliefs has great influence on teaching tactics and methods applied by pre-service teachers over long period of time (Wenner, 2001). Courses focusing on mathematics methods reinforce the level of commitment of pre-service teachers, since they are reform-oriented (Cakiroglu, 2000). At the same time, mathematics teaching efficacy assists in improvement of instructional strategies but at times contribute negatively towards mathematics anxiety (Swars, 2005; Gresham, 2008; Swars, Smith, Smith, & Hart, 2009).

Teaching Self-Efficacy Beliefs in pre-service teachers

Self-efficacy as previously defined is referred to as the level of judgment an individual has on his/her own capabilities and can be utilized to obtain desired outcome amongst students engaged in learning processes irrespective of their background (Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2001, p. 783). According to Brouwers and Tomic (2003), teachers’ self-efficacy can be considered as means of strengthening their belief on their capacity and ability to influence student’s reactions and performance within classrooms (Denzine, Cooney, & McKenzie, 2005). Various instruments are used in establishing pre-service teacher’s self-efficacy beliefs.

Example of such instruments includes Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES) which is an invention by Gibson and Dembo (1984). The use of such scale leads towards development of certain factors such as teacher’s sense of general teaching efficacy (GTE). This factor focuses on the influence of external environment and teacher’s background on his/her level of teaching. The second factor is associated with teacher’s sense of personal teaching efficacy (PTE). This factor is used in the identification of teacher’s belief system within excellent teaching environments (Gibson & Dembo, 1984).

Research was done by Gorrel et al (1998), within diverse cultures to establish on the level of teacher efficacy beliefs. The study proved the fact that teacher education program contributes towards greater personal efficacy owing to teaching experiences and dealing with negative behaviors amongst students. The phenomenon of self-efficacy beliefs amongst teachers has been widely researched and offers substantial information to the subject (Coladarci,1992) However, approaches to the subject of self-efficacy beliefs have been central to various forms of behaviors within Elementary Schools (Czerniak, 1990).

Olweus and Limber (2010) asserted that pre-service teachers have to deal with rogue behaviors from classrooms as a result of suffering from risk factors that include low self-esteem, depression, psychosocial problems, and anxiety. In order to combat the problem of misbehavior, several institutions and legal organs of given governments provide strategic frameworks.

While creation of anti-oppression programs is seen as the best approach in schools, however, many researchers have questioned their effectiveness. Carlyle & Steinman (2007) postulated that middle school students are more exposed to the risk of oppression as a result of their adolescent years. These authors pinpoint such factors as peer pressure and abuse. Those dealing with middle school teachers have a higher susceptibility to undue peer pressure and abuse during their early teaching years (Carlyle & Steinman, 2007).

Theoretical Framework on Teachers Students Relationship

Questions related to the occurrence of negative behavior are quite disturbing. Research shows that where there is negative student behavior, teachers at times become victims (Craig &Pepler, 2003). While the aggressor gets satisfaction from his/her antisocial behavior, the victim suffers physically, mentally, and psychologically (Fontanini &Skiba, 2000). Extensive research in Scandinavian nations revealed that negative behavior has close ties to criminal tendencies (Turner, 2011). Furthermore, Turner (2011) conceded that students have a tendency of maintaining their character straight into adulthood making it difficult for teachers to handle them. This leads towards non-functional relationships, and associations.

Despite the celebrated measures proposed in various programs, Carlyle & Steinman (2007) disagree with their overall effectiveness. The arguments put forward by these authors cite the multi-dimensional nature of low self-efficacy belief and negative behavior as entire subject. Their approach was supported by the works of Yoon and Kerber (2003) in a study that assessed the importance of teachers’ attitudes in prevention of oppression within elementary schools. Implementation and outcomes of an anti-oppression program depend on teachers as immediate caregivers to students in a school environment (Yoon & Kerber, 2003).

Yoon (2002) postulated in his study that development of healthy relationships between teachers and their students is pivotal to the effectiveness of self-efficacy belief in a school setting. Yoon’s study is inclined at the importance of the development of a warm relationship between a student and a teacher in order to prevent repeated incidences of negative behavior by the target student (Yoon, 2002).

While the contribution of teachers is important to development of various programs in schools, research studies show that more input is required. For instance, Yoon and Gilchrist (2003) asserted that the school’s administration needs to lend support to pre-service teachers during implementation of mathematics and other related programs. Empirical evidence shows that teachers need impartial support from principals in order to deal with disruptive students (Yoon & Gilchrist, 2003).

This assertion is important but it does not relate the occurrence of negative incidences to the input of a teacher. For instance, while support from administrators is viewed as pertinent to the effectiveness of an anti-oppression program in school, this approach reveals little information about the type of support needed for teachers. The critical point in this disagreement pinpoints issues such as punishment to the perpetrators and help to the victim. This introduces gaps in the study to reflect the fact that the mentioned support to the teacher is not specific to the intervention program.

Nevertheless, Yoon’s study (2004) focused on the teacher’s interventions in misbehavior and learning situations. This study was based on earlier research conducted by Olweus and Limber (2010). The key variables in the study suggest that a social ecological environment has significant bearing on teacher intervention in various classroom incidences. According to this study, negative behavior involves not only the parties involved but also the contextual environment where the incident takes place (Yoon, 2004).

In a typical school environment, negative behavior can occur in a classroom or in a field of play. Furthermore, this study reveals that most incidences may occur without the teachers’ notice. As a result, the teacher’s intervention is curtailed. While teachers are instrumental to implementation of anti-oppression programs, studies show that they are only effective if they witness, or the victim reports the incident. In addition, Craig, Henderson and Murphy (2000) found out that teacher-attitude towards student’s negative behavior in schools exhibit a great deal of variations.

For instance, this study reveals that these variations not only determine the leniency of interventions but also the feelings of the victim too. Whereas intervention programs play a significant role in the reduction of low level self-efficacy in schools, studies show that interactive collaboration is required in a school environment (Yoon, 2004).

According to the works of Song and Swear (2000), reporting of oppression incidences among students is biased. They found out that continued oppression by perpetrators is dependent on the teachers’ response to the incident. These findings cite the likelihood that some teachers are likely to intervene in a threatening manner, while others do so but insufficiently (Song & Swear, 2002). However, these findings have a gap. In the first place, they do not point the position of an anti-oppression program as a teacher’s guide during oppression situations. Second, Song and Swear (2002) do not use a theoretical stance to coin their relationship between teacher responses to oppression and the availability of an intervention program against oppression.

School based approaches to oppression have been extensively researched by Hirschtein et al. (2001) to reveal anti-oppression program strengths and weaknesses. Oppression, as a coercive behavior, (Frey, Hirschstein, & Gozzo, 2001) is widespread and evident through students’ reports as well as keen observations on school playgrounds. Studies show that prevention and intervention remedies have been through ant-oppression programs. Swearer and Doll, (2001) analyzed the effectiveness of school-based programs with respect to different levels of interventions. As a result, their findings hailed intervention programs as the most comprehensive approach to mitigating oppression in a school environment. Oppression is a peer aggression and needs a multilevel approach for each suggested anti-oppression program (Swearer & Doll, 2001).

Researchers have shown that anti-oppression programs for a school environment should include activities such as teacher training and establishment of policy. Teacher training is important but it should include strategies for identifying and monitoring oppression behavior among students (Olweus & Limber, 2010). At classroom level, every teacher should focus on integrating students’ learning objectives through curricular activities (Olweus & Limber, 2010).

In addition, studies show that the effectiveness of an anti-oppression program targets individual students too. At this level, Stevens, De Bourdeaudhuij, and Van Oost, (2001) found out that teachers should engage individual students for behavioral changes. Earlier studies evaluated program effectiveness in the light of a multilevel intervention (Stevens, De Bourdeaudhuij and Van Oost, 2001) approaches and found out that oppression rates reduced.

Comparatively, earlier and present findings show contrasting results based on anti-oppression programs. Implementation of an anti-oppression program has become a keynote in oppression outcome research. For instance, a meta-analysis of a whole-school anti-oppression program shows insignificant outcomes (Smith, Schneider, Smith, & Ananaiadou, 2004). Many studies relate this insignificance to lack of fidelity in the monitoring of an anti-oppression program implementation (Smith, Schneider, Smith, & Ananaiadou, 2004).

Based on implementation fidelity, Smith et al. (2004) postulated that significant reductions in student-reported victimizations are effective. In the same light, an evaluation of 48 classrooms by Stevens, De Bourdeaudhuij, & Van Oost, (2001), showed an appreciable reduction in student-reported oppression incidences in classes where teacher implementation was active. Such a study validates the need of initial teacher implementation of an anti-oppression program to reduce negative incidences (Stevens, De Bourdeaudhuij, & Van Oost, 2001).

Student and teacher oppressions as a problem is widespread in most US schools and the consequences are mild to detrimental for victims. Survey data from the U.S. Department of Justice show that one in four school children have been a victim of monthly oppression (Liepe-Levinson & Levinson, 2005). Such data show that the widespread nature of oppression in elementary schools in spite of anti-oppression programs. The challenges of implementing an effective anti-oppression program emanate from the difficulties present in some oppression situations. For instance, Liepe-Levinson & Levinson (2005), identified oppression with aggressions other than physical harm to the victim.

Emerging evidence shows that anti-oppression programs can reduce oppression in Elementary Schools but not entirely. Leadbeater & Hoglund, (2009), asserted in their study that design and implementation of anti-oppression programs is motivated by an increase in oppression risks. Despite this motivational outlook, only a few anti-oppression programs have been given thorough research analysis and/or evaluation (Olweus, 2005).

This aspect adds on the fact that less research has demonstrated efficacy (Ryan & Smith, 2009). Where anti-oppression programs have been evaluated, the period has been limited to less than 18 months (Merrell, Gueldner, Ross, & Isava, 2008). The limitation of the evaluation period compromises the suggested efficacy of any given program in the long-term sense. As a result, understanding of the applicability of available anti-oppression programs is threatened (Ryan & Smith, 2009).

A study conducted by Merrell, Gueldner, Ross, and Isava, (2008) unearthed the following aspects. First, lack of program evaluation and analysis affects mass adaptation into schools. Second, most anti-oppression programs are central to aggressors in a school environment. Third, only a few programs have embraced the importance of whole-school approach to tackle oppression in elementary schools. Lastly, evaluation approaches to oppression has been focusing on relational aggression (Merrell, Gueldner, Ross, & Isava, 2008). In addition, these analyses are likely to take place when oppression is amenable to change, specifically during early elementary (Leadbeater & Hoglund, 2009).

Early and ongoing studies unanimously reveal that peer aggression has close links to social-emotional problems. Leadbeater and Hoglund, (2009) analyzed the social-emotional aspects of peer aggression and came up with two important conclusions. First, such problems are influenced by fewer socially competent characters. Second, oppression is more likely to be influenced by internalization and aggression problems.

Fox and Boulton (2005) noticed that these findings led to sudden attention from policy makers, the media, and educators. As a result, they agitated development and eventual implementation of school-based anti-oppression programs (Troop-Gordon & Ladd, 2005). On the contrary, most anti-oppression initiatives only start in later grades or give little attention to victims of oppression (Leadbeater & Hoglund, 2009).

Substantial literature is present concerning whole-school anti-oppression programs. Olweus (2005) put forward the Olweus Oppression Prevention Program (OBPP), Steps to Respect Program (Frey, Hirschstein, & Edstrom, 2009), and the KiVa Program. Analytically, the OBPP program is the most widely used for students in Grades 4-7 through junior high. The OBPP is one of the most effective multisystems approaches which bring together the school environment and comprehensive teacher awareness (Frey, Hirschstein, & Edstrom, 2009). Through OBPP, oppression is addressed by combining rules, and school and classroom meetings. Contrary to the program’s celebrated popularity, replication of its outcomes has been questioned by the works of Black and Jackson (2007).

For instance, a twelve to eighteen month follow-up evaluated the OBPP in Norway and showed significant reduction oppression. Olweus (2005) showed, from this follow-up, stronger results for students in Grades 4-5 than Grades 6-7. The implications suggest that the program is efficacious when early intervention is initiated through the program. Despite these findings, Black and Jackson (2007) found out that replicating the program to a different environment from Norway gives varied outcomes. This does not question the validity of the program but indicates unavailability of whole-school initiatives that are specific to certain learning environments.

On going research is focused on ensuring the effectiveness of anti-oppression programs in schools. Despite the need to have highly effective programs in place, studies that quantify zero tolerance anti-oppression strategies are still in their infancy (Estevez, Musitu, & Herrero, 2005). Shore (2005) argued that the outcome of oppression should not focus on punishing perpetrators alone but to help them come out of the situation clean.

In fact, Carney (2008) supported the idea of Shore (2005) to imply that the victim and the aggressor are all victims and need help. Such studies are important as they close the knowledge gap and perceptions that aggressors are entirely bad students. While the aggressor gets satisfaction out his/her bad acts, he/she is likely to drop out of school, become a criminal at tender ages, engage in constant fights both inside and outside the school setting (Rigby, 2003).

The victims of oppression on the other hand will become socially isolated and retard their learning progress (Bauman & Del Rio, 2006). Brunner and Lewis (2007) advocated for school wide intervention programs for effective reduction of oppression in institutions of learning. Brunner and Lewis (2007) described the sequence of events that follow physical aggression resulting from oppression. In their study, they identify the action, the victim, bystanders, and response from bystanders. These events often lead to the swift attention of an administrator to calm the situation (Bauman & Del Rio, 2006). Several literatures cite the necessity of documented policies and intervention procedures for preventing physical aggression. Loopholes in policy programs made possible, until recently, for verbal and relational actions to be accepted as harmless scorning in schools (Carney, 2008).

Citing inefficiencies in reporting of oppression incidences in schools, Rigby (2001) consented that information that reaches administrators on a daily basis is far away from reality. Despite the anti-oppression efforts initiated through intervention programs, studies show that there is little information concerning who to empower to reduce oppression in schools (Shore, 2005).

The question of who to empower in order to make intervention programs effective has become central to ongoing studies (Burden, 2000). Carey (2003) investigated the best approaches for a purpose-driven dimension to improve the success of help full programs in schools. His approach to reducing oppression in schools emphasizes the need to unearth the intent of students (Carey, 2003).

Earlier research in schools led to development of self-efficacy programs that are applied in schools even to date. Research literature is limited to whether various programs previously used would still be in effective use at later dates (Allison, 2004). In order to make anti-oppression programs work in the long-term, many studies have proposed empowerment of students during design of policy and anti-oppression programs.

Such a study was conducted by Packman et al. (2005). This study emphasized on the need to design student-driven approaches to curb the problem of oppression in elementary and secondary schools. However, Black and Jackson (2007) disagreed with a one-size-fits-all approach for reducing oppression incidences in schools. The study was motivated by the fact that existing anti-oppression programs are entirely driven by teachers in both elementary and secondary schools (Packman et al., 2005). There is need to revise the zero tolerance approaches to oppression conflict resolutions since they seem not work.

Roberts and Morotti (2000) assert that the aggressor’s needs are also important in order to implement an effective anti-oppression program in a given school. Various studies have put special attention to data sharing especially for different schools. Researchers emphasize that school counselors should consider having a common anti-oppression data base for accessing useful information that works for some schools (Young et al. 2009).

According to research information, oppression incidences are prevalent in middle level as well as high schools. In support of this knowledge, Bradshaw, O’Brennan, & Sawyer, (2008) researched middle and high schools using sizably large samples and found that these levels harbor the greatest percentage (38%) of participants in oppression. These rates correspond to emotional social pressures of adolescence that are common among students at these levels of education.

A study conducted by Bradshaw, Sawyer, & O’Brennan, 2009 revealed differences in situational responses to oppression. In this study, half the victims of oppression in middle grade agreed that they would prefer retaliation and issuing of threats to end their differences with perpetrators. However, more shocking findings show that aggressors are positively inclined to committing acts of violence in school or any place of their choice (Barboza, Schiamberg, Oehmke, Korzeniewski, Post, & Heraux, 2009). Additionally, psychologists show that development of friendships among students is influenced by similarities in attitudes.

As a result, formation of formidable groups that resist or promote oppression is inevitable in such situations (Espelage & Swearer, 2003). Additionally, the tendency of aggressors to continue with their heinous acts gains confidence as their victims distance themselves from reporting occurrences (Limber, 2002). Limber (2002) asserts further that victims of oppression in a school setting tend to report less as they advance in age.

When the school is perceived as a social system, victims and aggressors establish diverse social organizations that interactively fortify oppression cycles (Barboza et al., 2009). In that cycle, the victim is likely to maintain the status quo if retaliatory responses and threats do not cause attention shift from the aggressor (Espelage & Swearer, 2003). Since friendships among students is reported to occur on the basis of shared attitudes, victims will strive to reverse their status quo in the eyes of their perpetrators by forming alliances, or frequently reporting occurrences to the school administration (Barboza et al. 2009; Espelage & Swearer, 2003).

Earlier research studies focused on aggressors as the main perpetrators in acts of violence and aggression in a school social system. Nevertheless, emerging research show that victimization catalyzes future violence tendencies in rather good victims too (Vossekuil, Fein, Reddy, Borum, & Modzeleski, 2004). There is little evidence to show that some victims of oppression turn out to perform same actions. A study by Barboza et al. (2009) revealed the tendency of some victims becoming mean aggressors with time. Ongoing studies show a dynamic association in which the aggressor-victim is at risk of engaging in aggressor conduct (Espelage & Swearer, 2003).

The role played by bystander students has mixed findings from researchers. However, most studies show that bystander students play a significant role to the continuation of aggression cycles in school ecology. According to Limber, (2002) 50% of participants in his study admitted having witnessed oppression incidences but left them to continue without intervention. Wiens & Dempsey, (2009) reported that student bystanders are likely to encourage oppression to continue during the impact stage.

Application of an anti-oppression program has its roots to anti-oppression laws that exist at state level. In order to apply them wholly or in part in a school setting, certain components of anti-oppression law have to be followed. The magnitude of oppression in a school setting depends on influential interactions that exist between subjects. Staff response, on the other hand, is influenced by its perceptions of subjects within the environment.

These perceptions are important to the development of a culture in a school setting, which reduces or fuel various kinds of intimidations. For instance, Bennet (2009), established that the presence of influential adult mentors, uniformity of disciplinary responses, and consistently high levels of academic achievement characterize schools with low oppression tendencies (Bennett, 2009). Bandyopadhyay, Cornell, & Konold (2009) expanded these findings to include reduction in oppression as a result of student’s confidence in timely and appropriate response of staff. Existence of such an environment is an important substrate for an effective anti-oppression program in schools. On the contrary, studies reveal that an effective anti-oppression program is affected by students’ perception of their teacher’s response to oppression situations.

Bradshaw et al. (2008) championed a study showing that most students have an overall feeling that their teachers’ response to oppression is inadequate. Further research reveals inconsistency in teachers’ readiness to identify perpetrators (Bennett, 2009). This, in turn, has affected the use of teachers as key enforcers of anti-oppression programs in schools (Limber, 2002). Furthermore, studies continue to unveil the teachers’ lack of confidence in dealing with oppression situations that tend to emanate from physical aggression of the victim (Espelage & Swearer, 2003).

Programs such as the OBPP have been proved to work in many schools globally. However, their effectiveness is usually impeded by oppression incidences that remain unreported in schools. For instance, studies show that as students advance in age, they tend to report oppression at a reduced frequency. Bennete (2009) argued that victims’ feeling of shame and isolation tendencies hinder their communication to teachers. This will impede application of anti-oppression programs since there are misconceptions that oppression incidents are nonexistent in that school setting (Bandyopadhyay et al., 2009). Espelage and Swearer (2003) and Limber (2002) supported the need to mitigate oppression by addressing school-level issues like teacher response, climate, and comprehensive training.

While physical and verbal oppression is evident in a school setting, anti-oppression programs are lacking before cyber-oppression. The dynamic nature of technology exposes victims to unsupervised online settings where parents and teachers have inaccessibility (Shariff, 2009). Aggressors have the capability to use technology to harm their peers while remaining covered for a long time. Usually, such acts can occur any time of the day as aggressors can use technology to have a 24-hour access to their victims. Studies show that the bystander audience is large in low self-efficacy belief. As a result, the painful effect on the victim is compounded (Feinberg & Robey, 2009). Consequently, anti-oppression programs need to embrace the dynamic nature of cyber-oppression by educating the students’ social responsibility (Shariff, 2009).

Every anti-oppression program occurs in legal framework of a given state concerning oppression. Anti-oppression law literature covers aspects of court decisions and state-level laws. Studies covering oppression case law are few and not thorough. Zirkel (2003) asserted that earlier studies approached the subject of oppression in a general sense while leaning on individual cases. This generalized approach to oppression introduces support challenges to anti-oppression programs.

Studies show that there is bias in the attention given to different types of oppression by anti-oppression law. A study conducted by Shariff (2009), show that many studies give more weight to cyber oppression than other types of oppression in a school setting. In addition, Trager (2009) discovered that oppression in special education settings is not broadly covered by research. There is little literature on state-level anti-oppression laws. Earlier studies put focus on isolated anti-oppression laws but neglected a collective legislative sense pertaining to acts for prevention of violence in schools (Trager, 2009).

Existing and emerging studies continue to examine the effectiveness of anti-oppression programs in schools. The Olweus Oppression Prevention Program has been in use for an appreciable time but literature regarding its effectiveness is limited. For instance, studies show that using the program within 12 to 18 months introduces threats to its generalization to large population for long term outcomes in schools (Bandyopadhyay et al., 2009).

Hallford, Cameo, and Joanne (2006) investigated ways to evaluate oppression prevention programs and made several suggestion. Available literature has been pointing to oppression as a social vice that needs to be addressed through prevention but has left out evaluation of intervention programs. Much help is needed to address oppression problems among school-going peers since the impacts not range from physical harm but also a drop in academic performance in school (Bond, Carlin, Thomas, Rubin, & Patton, 2001).

Design and subsequent implementation of anti-oppression programs has been a global response. Conversely, available programs are limited to seeking solutions that are aligned to abolishing oppression. However, oppression remains a nagging problem that affects students during every session (Limber, 2002). The greatest landmark for anti-oppression programs was put forward by Olweus (2005) after long term research on the subject. Other programs followed suit but with the core intention of preventing oppression in schools. A close examination of anti-oppression programs in schools show that they operate at four levels: individual, general, class, and school levels (Olweus, 2005).

These levels can be seen as core components of an anti-oppression program. This has been the case for many research studies. Despite this approach, research literature is unavailable for assessing the impact of each component to the overall prevention of oppression in schools (Bond, Carlin, Thomas, Rubin, & Patton, 2001). While one program attempted to replicate the findings of Olweus, such attempts have been sluggish in the United States (Hallford et al., 2006).

The implication of such a knowledge gap is far reaching. First, lack of large-scale level replication of Olweus’ findings widens the knowledge gap between the effectiveness of programs and their suitability to non-Scandinavian environments (Hallford et al., 2006). A number of oppression prevention programs have been designed in countries like the U.S. but they lack evaluation.

While the multilevel approach suggested by Olweus’ model has been a benchmark for establishing more oppression prevention programs, emergent studies report that actual reductions in oppression are mixed. For instance, earlier studies proved sampling problems that are inherent in such oppression prevention studies require that several assessments over a given period in order to generalize the results to the entire population.

In this sense, depending on the methods used for sampling, researchers have to ask the same questions in the given period of research (Rigby, 2003). However, this approach still poses problems to researchers. In the first place, it may not be possible to use the same respondents in the new sample. Second, participant’s interpretation of oppression may acquire new meaning with time (Rigby, 2003). At this point, policy makers, educationists, and teachers are standing at crossroads over the issue of oppression prevention program evaluation.

Education researchers continue to find lasting solutions to the oppression problem in spite of these drawbacks. Rigby, (2003) noted that there has been little attention to differentiate between the theoretical and practical parts of any given oppression prevention programs. In fact, research findings indicate that the success of a oppression prevention program requires the input of not only adults but also school children (Olweus, 2005).

The importance of a oppression prevention program should not be evaluated in the light of the victim alone but also the aggressor. Of course, their actions make oppression a cyclic occurrence. It is possible to point fingers at teachers or parents but the effectiveness of a oppression prevention program has far reaching implications than imagined by many affected people.

Earlier research works had been pointing a finger of blame at the aggressor before the works of Roberts and Morotti (2002). The idea of perceiving the aggressor as a “victim” has gained attention in ongoing research. Such an approach includes an important element in oppression prevention programs (Roberts &Morotti, 2002). Many studies, until recently, focused on protection of the victim in the event of oppression without probing into the actions of the aggressor. For instance, counselors in a school setting strive to reduce such aggressions by ensuring the both the aggressor and the victim embrace behavior change (Wiens & Dempsey, 2009).

Identification of active participants in a oppression situation remains another pressing issue to the successful implementation of oppression prevention programs. Researchers are now focusing on the impact of bystanders in a aggressor-victim scenario. Rigby (2003) and Limber (2002) described the events that draws the involvement of bystanders during oppression. The pain caused by the victim usually causes emotional shift in the bystander leading to either intervention or departure from the scene. Olweus (2005) reported that response actions of bystanders during oppression are not directly predictive.

Later studies revealed that fear of retaliation from the aggressor are the core factor that prevents bystanders from preventing the continuation of aggression to the victim (Bond, Carlin, Thomas, Rubin, & Patton, 2001). However, this behavior has no backing from research studies. Conversely, bystanders fall under the general components of any programs that attempt to address the problem of oppression in schools. The question of bystanders’ role in oppression poses challenges to researchers and even victims alike. For instance, their role is limited to the site of the act. Their role becomes diminished especially in low self-efficacy belief.

This is the case to teachers or parents too. Dominance is a character displayed by most aggressors. As a result, integrating bystanders to a oppression protection program is limited to the comprehensive training that most oppression prevention programs embrace. Studies show that it is unpredictable if a bystander who witnesses an act of aggression will be present when the same victim is bullied one more time (Bond, Carlin, Thomas, Rubin, & Patton, 2001).

What most studies do not address is how the components of oppression prevention programs interact to curtail such behavior. For instance, in the Olweus Oppression Prevention Program (OBPP), the author identifies four components that should be addressed by an intervention effort. Just like parts of the body, there is no single component of oppression program that works singly to prevent oppression. The four levels that form core components of an intervention program include: Individual, general, school, and class levels (Bond, Carlin, Thomas, Rubin, & Patton, 2001).

Research studies show that early intervention to change the behavior of aggressors is imperative to stopping aggressive behavior. Furthermore, early intervention of aggressor and aggressive behavior will not be effective when follow up strategies are not present. Lack of follow-up on the effectiveness of any intervention strategy is what makes the implementation of any program a challenge (Liepe-Levinson & Levinson, 2005).

Oppression in its general definition typically encompasses harmful acts. Olweus says that three components must be present in order for an act to pass as oppression. An act should be repetitive, (Bond, Carlin, Thomas, Rubin, & Patton, 2001), contain an intent to harm, (Olweus, 2005), and show power disparity between the aggressor and the victim (Olweus, 2005). Scholars and policy makers have been developing policies that embrace zero tolerance towards oppression in school and workplace settings (Limber, 2002). This approach is reflected in the prevention programs that are used today.

On the contrary, using zero tolerance only prioritizes oppression as a physical act over other forms like verbal oppression (Shore, 2003). This rationale is biased in many respects. There is bias towards the role that a aggressor plays in the continuation or stoppage of his/her acts. In fact, the programs that embrace zero tolerance focus so much on the victim that they neglect the help needed to change the behavior patterns of aggressors (Shore, 2003; Limber, 2002). Prevention of oppression in this sense injects invalidity to an intervention program. This implies that forms of oppression that cannot be categorized as overt violence are not addressed with concern in a school setting (Jacobsen & Bauman, 2007).

Legal literature pertaining to prevention of oppression is wide. Studies report that integration of oppression prevention programs into a given state’s legal framework is pivotal to effective reduction in school violence (Diamantes, 2010). Occurrence of oppression acts that lead to court suits follow mixed paths. Usually, it shall not be the victim of oppression that sues the school but his/her parents takes responsibility.

However, research data show that court suits are likely to happen after the victim has a tragic end, including death (Diamantes, 2010). Court cases that involve the parents and schools following physical harm to victim by a aggressor are a real threat to oppression prevention programs. Diamantes (2010) cited an example of a parent who sued Anoka-Hennepin Independent District School in 2007. The event occurred after a aggressor attacked another without provocation. The parents demanded justice citing the school’s anti-oppression policy. However, the court overruled the case in favor of the school saying that the act was unforeseeable to teachers Diamantes (2010). Parents are required to support anti-oppression programs at a general level but such incidences can potentially threaten the collaboration with the school.

Oppression solutions that are provided by intervention programs can be more effective if they embrace the power of technology. Recent studies show that oppression prevention programs that embrace technology are twice as effective as traditional approaches (Pierce, 2012). Since controlling oppression even with a program in a pressing issue, researchers have resorted to providing technologically motivated solutions to deal with problems of oppression in schools. Craig and Debra (2007) supported the idea of using information technology to deal with oppression in schools.

The system proposed by Craig and Debra (2007) reflect the need of having a functional anti-oppression program that brings together parents, policymakers, educators, teachers and students. Adaptation o technology should not only mirror information sharing but also be central to all types of oppression (Pierce, 2012). Studies show that technology has potential to mitigate acts of oppression in school but its usage should be carefully planned (Morgan, 2013).

Researchers do not view technology just in the sense of management and sharing of data in school settings but also managing technology to reduce oppression. Morgan (2013) conceded that technology is a blessing in disguise. His declaration was based on the fact that good use of technology can lead to reduction in oppression incidences in schools. Hinduja and Patchin (2011) reported that gadgets such as cell phones and portable computers can be used by students to propagate oppression against their peers. The use of such gadgets has become part of students’ social interaction globally. Emergence and usage of such gadgets has grown to be the hardest problem to solving some forms of oppression, specifically, low self-efficacy belief.

Studies show that addressing low self-efficacy belief is harder than physical oppression. Researchers pinpoint digital technology as the most readily available media used by aggressors to socially harm their peers (Beale & Hall, 2011). The impact of low self-efficacy belief is immediate and has potential to reach a sizable number of victims instantly (Willard, 2007). Oppression that utilizes communication devices avoids in-person confrontation between the aggressor and his/her victims.

Price and Dalgeish assert that the methods used in low self-efficacy belief are so diverse that perpetrators gains advantage over their victims instantly. There is increased anonymity in instilling low self-efficacy belief through media as well as exclusion of participants such as bystanders (Slonje & Smith, 2008). Emerging differences between schoolyard oppression and low self-efficacy belief are fascinating (Craig, Henderson and Murphy, 2000). Studies show that aggressors often employ a range of tactics to hide their identity while oppression their target victims. Wolfson (2010) reported that lack of immediate response from the victim leaves the aggressor with mixed thoughts about the consequence of his/her aggression. Despite its widespread preference as a method of aggression, low self-efficacy belief lacks extensive research (Floreno, 2011).

Statistical data indicate that an average of 20% school children is threatened annually in the United Kingdom (Hinduja & Patchin, 2011). Ongoing research reveals appreciable differences in gender patterns between offline and online oppression (Beale & Hall, 2007). Playground or classroom oppression is more likely to involve boys alone. Beale and Hall report that such patterns are likely to reverse in online oppression. Both boys and girls are involved but girls show increased preference than boys. However, low self-efficacy belief involving girls focus on their own sex as victims. A study conducted by Beal and Hall revealed increased low self-efficacy belief among middle school boys and girls.

According to Wolfson (2010), five states out of 44 across the U.S. have and apply anti-bullying law. Furthermore, Wolfson reports that low self-efficacy belief has double the chance of leading victims to suicidal tendencies than offline oppression. Morgan (2013) suggests prevention of low self-efficacy belief should engage collective effort from policymakers, administrators, educationists, parents, teachers and students. This implies impartial input to any available anti-oppression program that the school has in place. Research shows that acceptance of aggressors is a major problem in both elementary and high schools (Hogland and Hosan, 2012).

As a result, Graham (2010) postulated quick teacher response to acts of low self-efficacy belief. However, studies advice that counter-measures should not be punitive but reconciliatory (Beale & Hall, 2007). The teacher’s intervention using anti-oppression programs is paramount at this stage. Teachers should design lessons to teach their students about low self-efficacy belief. Utilizing students to cause behavior change in such situations improves a given program’s outcomes (Morgan, 2013; Buell et al., 1999). For instance, Beale & Hall (2007) proposed that teachers should utilize the presence of older students to teach their counterparts about the vices of low self-efficacy belief.

Such activities target the classroom level component of an anti-oppression program. Additionally, parents should be treated as part and parcel of any low self-efficacy belief program for a school. Wolfson (2010) postulated the use of technology to communicate anti-low self-efficacy belief objectives to parents. Media such as e-mails or newsletters should be availed to the parents regularly to include them in the fight against low self-efficacy belief in schools (Graham, 2010).

Furthermore, study information show that fostering safety by prompt response to any low self-efficacy belief case is effective to fighting its escalation. Response should be geared towards promoting a sager feeling in the victim while striving to change the behavior of the aggressor positively. Any incident should not be taken for granted by teachers. The final mood after identification of a aggressor should foster his/her acceptance by the members of the class Beale & Hall (2007). This approach will create safe climate for the victim and the perpetrator.

Effectiveness of an anti-oppression program in either middle high school does not show much difference. There is limited data related to effectiveness of such programs. However, research studies have been attempting to introduce the issue lack of follow up once a program has been adopted into a school environment (Black and Jackson, 2007). Despite the limitations in research knowledge pertaining to program implementation, earlier research indicated a collection of factors that are important for any situation.

Packman et al. (2005) reported the need of including students in an anti-oppression program in order to reduce oppression in both middle and high schools. Studies reveal that reporting of oppression by victims is important to any intervention effort. Conversely, Merrell, Gueldner, Ross, and Isava (2008) found out that as students advance to high schools, they tend to report oppression with less frequency. Reporting of an incident is next to witnessing. If there is no information, necessary intervention in the light of oppression prevention programs will be ineffective (Diamantes, 2010).


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