Which children develop severely disruptive school behaviour?

Disruptive student behaviour has been identified as one of the most significant issues confronting Australian schools. Yet common educational responses often inflame rather than reduce problem behaviours.

This ARC-funded 6 year longitudinal project will track 250 children from prep to end Grade 5 to understand (i) why some students begin to engage in severely disruptive behaviour, (ii) which child factors are involved, and (iii) the contributions that are made by specific pedagogical contexts over time.

An extended longitudinal approach that spans the formative years of primary school will be employed to understand the transactional pathways underpinning the development of disruptive school behaviour; that is,

  • what do children bring to school [child factors],
  • how does the school respond [pedagogical context],
  • how do those responses impact the child [bidirectional effect],
  • and how in turn does that affect the child’s interaction with future classroom contexts [transactional effect]?

This international transdisciplinary team – with expertise in inclusive education, early childhood, developmental psychology, cognitive science and speech pathology – will longitudinally examine these transactional processes and the classroom practices that underpin them to provide teachers, school leaders and researchers with the insights needed to prevent the development of severely disruptive school behaviour.

In each year of the study, children complete a series of measures assessing development, language, literacy and numeracy, school liking and attachment to their teachers. Participating teachers participate in one-to-one interviews investigating support strategies and teacher beliefs, and complete a short series of teacher-report measures assessing the quality of teacher-student relationships, and children’s self-regulation and behaviour. Classroom observations are conducted in each child’s class using the CLASS measure.

The project is currently in its fourth year and publications will be made available on this site when available.  Please direct inquiries to linda.graham@qut.edu.au


**The first 2 years of this project was seed-funded by the Financial Markets Foundation for Children.

Funding / Grants

  • ARC Discovery

Other Team Members