British Journal of Developmental Psychology

Skip to Search

Skip to Navigation

Volume 9 Issue 3 (September 1991), Pages 365-444

Children's perspectives on conflicts between student and teacher: Developmental and situational variations (pages 377-391)

This study examines the ways that elementary schoolchildren think about everyday situations in which conflicts occur between student and teacher. Applying a balanced design, 60 Icelandic elementary schoolchildren (30 girls and 30 boys) between the ages of 7 and 12 were interviewed twice, one year apart, using two ‘dilemmas’ in which the teacher criticizes the academic work and the classroom behaviour of a student. For each dilemma, the children's expressed interpersonal communicative action — their definition of the problem being faced, their proposed choice of action, the justification they offer for their proposed action, and their evaluation of the feelings of each protagonist — were classified at one of four developmental levels. Hypotheses that age, time, gender and conflictual situation would predict level of communicative action were tested. The findings indicate that level of communicative action differs according to conflictual situation. Regardless of age, children express a greater reciprocity when academic work rather than classroom behaviour is being criticized by the teacher (with girls being more likely to take a reciprocal perspective than boys). Finally, older children are less unilateral than younger children, suggesting that communicative action becomes more reciprocal as children develop, although these developmental changes appear to decelerate with age.

Add This link

Bookmark and Share>