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spring, Martha F. 

Who's in Charge Here? Observed ^nd Perceived Patterns 
of Teacher and Student Influence in AH ernative and 
Trad it ion a 1 Classes. 
Apr 7a 

15p.; Paper presented at the Annual Mt^Gting of the 
American Educational Research Association (Chicago, 
Illinois, April 1974) 

fir-$0,75 HC~$1,50 PLUS POSTACE 

♦Classroom Observation Techniques ; ♦Perctption ; 
Student Teacher Relationship; ♦Teacher I nf iuence 
Hit Steer System; PPOI; Pupil Perceptions Origin 
Influence Questionnaire 



ABSTRACT 

This study was designed to test the hypothesis that a 
measure of students' influence relative to teachers' influence is 
needed in the classroom. The Hit-Steer system, designed by Thitaut, 
Coules, and Robinson to reveal the patterns of teacher and pupil 
influence as expressed classroom interaction, vas used to observe 
teachers and students in a) 14 seventh-grade classrooms and eight 
alternative high school classrooms in a suburban community and b) 30 
seventh-grade classrooms in eight inner-city schools. The Pupil 
Perceptions of Origin Influence (PPOI) questionnaire was used to 
measure pupils' perceptions of classroom influence. Results indicate 
that a) teachers made "hits" about twice as often as students; b) 
there was a close relationship among students' perceptions of how 
much influence they actually had on classroom activities; c) in the 
classrooms with high PPOI scores, teachers made fewer rejections, 
more conditional responses, and fewer attempts tc direct students' 
behavior; d) students in the alternative school teiided to re'spcnd to 
teachers' "hits" with refusals and their own "hits" relatively (but 
not statistically) more than their peers in other schools; and e) the 
patterns of teacher-student influence differed on factors of school 
location and the level of PPOI score. These two factors were closely 
related, and the effects of each could not be assessed independently. 
(Three tables and a nine-item bibliography are included.) (PD) 



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WHO'S ' n a -^:Kt^ 
OBSBR^^^D AND PERCEIVED PATT UNS ^ Th'H:Hi:R /VND STl'DENT JTNFLUENC 
IN ALTERNATIVE: AND ^HP T^ONAJ. CLASSF.S 



Martha F. Spring 
Institute for Research on Exceptional Children 
University of Illinois 
Champaign^ Illinois 



Presented at the Amiual Meeting of the American Educational Research Assoeifttion: 
Chicago^ Illinois^ April 16, 1974 



This study ^as cownucted in tho context of a larger body of research 
investigating the relationshipL between teachers* beliefs, teacher student 
iiueractive behavior, classroom atmosphere, and students* learning and moti- 
The following diagram illustrates the framework within which these 
studios were conducted. For purposes of simplicity only some of the possible 
conponents are shown; no causal sequence is implied. 



Teacher 
Characteristics 



Student 
Characteristics 




Student 
Learning 





Student 
Motivation 


Teacher-Student 
Interaction 






Classroom 
Atmosphere 







The general purpose cf this study was to exumiie the Teacher -Student 
Interaction component from the perspective of tha "personal causation" theory 
of motivatio!^ (deCharms, 1968). This theory is particularly relevant for 
educators and students seeking to develop educational alternatives for indi-> 
vidual learning programs. 
Theoretical Rationale 

The growing interest in "alternative" schools, open education, and the 
like, which presumably offer students more freedom to determine what and how 
they learn than "traditional" schools (Hansen, n.d.), raises the question of 
how much influence students can or should have consonant with maximum learning 
and motivation. DeCharms and Bridgeman (1961) found that when members of a 
learning group felt they had freedom to influence the group's activities, they 
had more positive feelings toward the teacher and were more willing to work 



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for him than when thoy had no opportunity to control the situation. Similar 
findings in Industrial settings have been reported by Coch and French (1960) 
and Kahn and Katz (1960). 

DcCharros (1972) conducted . four-year nrotivatlon development project 
with inner-city teachers and students based on his notion of personal causation, 
''the initiation by an individual of behavior intended to produce a change in 
the environment" (1968). The project resulted in greater gains in academic 
achievement and higher motivation in students whose trained teachers helped 
them to teel and act like ''Origins" rather than like "Pawns". Origins per- 
ceivb their behavior as determined by their own choosing, while Pawns perceive 
their behavior as determined by extern?! forces beyond their control. 

If students were allowed to participate in decisions about topics of dis- 
cussion, classroom procedures, etc., they might feel more like Origins, that 
is>more motivated and perhaps learn more than students who were not allowed 
any influence in such matters. In contrast, complete freedom to make these 
decisions might result 1^: decrraents in learning and motivation for many 
students (a situation resembling Seeman's (1959) description of anomie); com* 
plete lack of freedom to participate in decision-making, that is, being 
treated like Pawns, might also have negative effects on students* achievement 
and motivation. Thus, a curvilinear relationship could be postulated between 
students* relative influence in the classroom and their learning and tnotivation, 
such that too much control by either teacher or students would be expected to 
have deleterious effects. 

To test the hypothesis, a measuxe of students* influence relative to 
teachers* influence in the classroom was needed. The immediate objectives of 
this study, then, were to develop an observational measure of the relative 

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ini huMnco of teachers and pupils in detcxinining class activities, to validate 
it by comparing the observational data to pupils' perceptions of classroom in- 
fluence pattemSi and to provide descriptive data about differences in inter- 
active behaviors of teachers and pupils between "alternative" and "traditional" 
classes* 

Based on a conception of influence attempts and their effects developed 
by Thibaut, Coules , and Robinson and presented ir Thifaaut and Riecken (195S) 
the Hit -Steer Observation System was developed. The Hit -Steer system is 
designed to reveal the patterns of teacher and pupil influence as expressed in 
classroom interaction by assessing the number of times a teacher or pupil 
attempts to influence ("hits"} the other and whether the influence attempt 
"produces a change in the environment ' (whether the other "is steered" or not). 
The system comprises two parallel set5 of four categories « The first set 
defines behaviors when the teacher tries to influence the students; the second, 
when a student tries to influence the teacher. Each set contains one category 
for hits and three categories for the various kinds of responses: a compliant 
response, or Steer; a refusal to comply, or No-Steer; and a response that is 
not clear or not made, or Conditional Steer. 
Procedures 

Teachers and students in 52 classrooms in the metropolitan area of a 
large midwestem city voluntarily participated in the study* The sample in- 
cluded 30 seventh grade classrooms in 8 inner-city schools primarily serving 
black students, 14 seventh grade classrooms from a racially integrated 
suburban community, and 8 "alternative" high school classrooms in the same 
suburb. Teachers in both urban and suburban districts represented a mixture 
on the variables of sex and race, 

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To measure pr.pils* perceptions of classroom influence, the Pupil Per- 
ceptions of Origin Influence Questionnaire (P.P.O.I.) was used. The 28- 
item Llker^.-type scale (Koenigs and Hess, 1970), developed in conjunction 
with doCharm*s motivation development project, assesses how much students per- 
ceive their teacher as encouraging them to feel in control of their behavior, 
i.e., to feel like Origins. In that study, classrooms perceived by the 
students as encouraging Origin behavior produced increased learning. The 
instrument serves as an indirect measure of the teacher as he or she influences 
the atmosphere of the classroom. 

Students in 52 classrooms were administered the P. P.O. I. and a mean score 
was calculated for each classroom. The scores were then rank' ordered from high 
to low and the distribution divided into quintiles. To tap the entire range 
of scores, classes in the highest, middle and lowest quintiles were chosen for 
observation. Without knowledge of the P. P. O.I. score or quintile, trained ob- 
servers used the Hit-Steer system to score teacher-pupil interaction for two 
hours in 35 classrooms: 9 in the lowest quintile, 12 in the middle quintile, 
and 14 in the highest quintile. 

Two observers used the Hit-Steer Observation System to a criterion of 85% 
agreement before data collection began. The principal observer scored inter- 
action in all 70 observation periods, while the reliability observer scored 
interaction in a random sample of one-third of the sessions, or 25 observation 
periods. Based upon a refinement of Scott *s (1955) procedure for calculating 
observer agreement, which eliminates the overestimation of reliability attri- 
butable to chance, inter-observer agreement was calculated at 85% over all 
sessions* To »^ke the data comparable, mean scores in the 8 observation 
categories for each classroom were equated for a 20-minute sample period. Be- 
cause all 8 of the alternative school classes fell into the highest quintile^ 



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6 high-scoring classes from othor schools were included in that group so that 
the two factors would not be completely confounded. 
Resujts and Discussion 

One importart ou come of the study was data about who was making the 
decisions in typical classrooms as teachers and students went about their 
day-to-day activities. Table 1 presents the mean, range, and standard de- 
viation of scores in the eight observation categories based on the sainple of 
35 classes. During a 20-minute period, the rate of influence attempts by 
the teacher ranged from 1 every 3 minutes to 3 in 1 minute, with a meap of 1 1/2 
Hits every minute. In the sme sample period, the rate of Pupil Hits ranged 
from 1 every 3 minutes to 1 1/2 in a ininute, averaging less than 1 per minute. 
Thus, overall, teachers made Hits about twice as often as students. 

To validate the observational measure, students* perceptions of how much 
their teacher helped them to feel in control of their behavior were compared 
with their actual influence in the classroom. First, the ratios of both Teacher 
Hits and Pupil Hits to total Hits were computed; they ranged fx^ra 83% Teacher 
Hits - 17% Pupil Hits to 39% Teacher Hits - 61% Pupil Hits. Testing the 
curvilinear relationship based on the Teacher-Pupil interaction would require 
at least 3 groups: one, m which the teacher made most of the hits; a second, 
in which teachev and students shared more or less equally in making hits; and 
a third, in which the students made most of the hits. Since the sample did not 
contain enough classes that could be placed in the third group, only the first 
two were examined. 

There were 15 classes in which the teacher made more than 60% of the total 
hits, or about twice as many hits as the students, and 20 classes in which 
the teacher and students each made between 40% and 60% of the total hits, or 
about equal numbers of hits. Mean classroom scores on the Pupil Perceptions of 

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Origin Influonce que5;tionnair6 for the two groups were 81.1 and 91. 8 ^ the 
difference significant at the .001 level (F « 10.32, df » 1,33). Thus, 
students* perceptions of how much their teacher helped them to feel in con- 
trol of their behavior in class were very closely related to how much influence 
on class activities they actually had. 

Since the studencrs were basing their responses on the Pupil Perceptions 
of Origin Influence questionnaire, in part at leasts on teacher-pupil inter- 
active behavior, potential differences in the overall influence patterns be- 
tween the classes in the high^ middle, and low quintiles were investigated. 
The three levels of P. P. O.I. scores were entered as the independent variable 
in a multivariate analysis of all eight observation variables. To answer the 
third question posed at the beginning of the study, whether interaction patterns 
differed in the various types of classes, school location was entered as the 
second independent variable in the multivariate analysis. 

Table 2 presents the mean scores for the observation categories for the 
three levels of Pupil Perceptions of Origin Influence scores. For the three re- 
sponse categories for Pupils and the three response categories for Teachers - 
the Steer, No Steer, and Conditional Steer categories - the table entries are 
actually ratios of the number of tallies in each category to the nund^er of 
tallies in the corresponding hit category. The data are presented this way 
simply because the number of Steers in a class^ for example, depended on the 
number of hits that had been made. Since the number of hits varied by class- 
room, the number of steers couldn't be compared directly. Data for the re- 
sponse categories are presented in the same way in Table 3, which contains 
mean scores in the obF»ervation categories for the four school locations. In 
Table 3, the scores for Suburban school 2 resemble those for the Alternative 
school, especially in the response categories, while response data 



for Suburban School 1 arc more similar to innercity school data. (Since 
proportions are not normally distributed, an arc^sin trans lormation was per- 
formed on them for the analyses.) 

results of the ai ilyses indicated that the multivariate effect for Class 
:*oom Atmosphere approached signifit »nce, and there were significant multi- 
variate effects for Location and the Clac r^om Atmosphere by Location inter- 
action* One-degree-of-freedom tests for the main effects were then run, 
yielding a significant linoar trend for Pupil Perceptions of Origin Influence 
levels. A significant step-down F was found only for the Teacher Hit variabl 
(p<.01), although Teacher No Steer as a function of Pupil Hit and Teacher 
Conditional Steer as a function of i pil Hit approached statistical signifi- 
cance (p < ,06 and .07, respectively). Thus, in the classrooms with high 
scores on the Pupil Perceptions of Origin Influence questionnaire, the 
teachers made fewer attempts to direct their students' behavior. They also 
made fewer rejections and more conditional responses to the students* attempt 
to influence them. 

Since the levels of the Location factor were ordinal, tests for linear 
or curvilinear trends could not be performed. Instead, the one-degree-of- 
freedom tests compared the scores for each level to the mean scores for all 
levels. Classes in the Alternative school and one Suburban school were each 
found to differ significantly from the iiean of all classes* Specifically, in 
the Alternative classes there were significantly fewer Pupil Conditional 
Steers as a function of Teacher Hits (p < .04). That is, students in the 
Alternative school tended to respond to teachers* influence attempts with 
refusals and with attempts to influence the teacher relatively (but not 
statistically) more than their peers in other schools. Classes in Suburban 



school 1 differed from the mean with fewer Teacher Conditional Steers as a 
function of Pupil Hits (p < .05), more Pupil Steers as a function of Teachc 
Hits (p < .04), and fewer Pupil No Steers as a function of Teacher Hits 
(p ^ .03). The marginally significant difference between the innercity classes 
and the mean was attributable mainly to more Teacher Hits (p< .002). 

Because all eight of the Alternative school classes were members of the 
high-scoring quint ile, it was necessary to determine the impact of these 
special classes on the group differences. Thus, a set of multivariate 
analyses without data from that Location was run. In these analyses, the 
number of locations wa;; 3, the high-scoring group comprised 6 classes instead 
of 14, and the total n in the sample was 27 rather than 35. Results indicated 
that the Classroom Atuosphere differences, while no longer significant, 
continued to !:how the same trend, while Location effects and the Classroom 
Atmosphere by Location interaction remained significant (p ,02 and p< .03, 
respectively). The Location effect was largely attributable to differences 
between the innercity scores and the overall mean scores, with the innercity 
classes having significantly more Teacher Hits (p<.02). The results indicate 
that the patterns of teacher-student influence differed on both factors. Level 
of Pi.pil Perceptions of Origin Influence score and school Location. They 
further indicate that the two factors were clearly related, and in this sample 
the effects of each could not be assessed independently. 

Observers and proponents of educational alternatives, like Hansen (n.d.)p 
have suggested that "Students in Alternatives are there because they perceive 
that there they can genuinely make decisions about their own lives" 15), 
The results of this study, however, are not taken in support of such statements, 
because school Location was not considered a conceptual variable. That is. 



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there was no clear conceptual definitio^i of an Alternative school with 
corresponding operations by which the particular school in this sample could 
be validated as c bonafide Miber of th>xt class rf schools. With only its na»e 
as evidence of its validity, this Alternative school could not legitiaately 
be identified as representative of even the other four Alternative schools 
in the area, let alone the ayriad prograns across the country that share its 

If, in fact, students* perception of their ability to sake decisions 
about their lives Is considered an important component of the conceptual 
definition of an alterrative school, as Hansen suggests, the Pupil Perceptions 
of Origin Influence questionnaire provjtdes a way to operational! 20 that coa-* 
ponent, and thus, to validate clains that this is what happens in an alter- 
native school. If stud^ts' ability actually to aake such decisions is con* 
sidered another inportant cosponont of the conceptual definition of an alter* 
native school, the Hit -Steer Observation Systen provides away to operation-* 
alize that coiqionent and, thus, to validate claims that this also is %rhat 
happens in an Alternative school. Rather than saying that Alternative 
schools are **different from" or *1>etter than'* other schools, this study offers 
oneway of saying what they are. 



ERIC 



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deCharms, R. Personal Causation . New York: Academic Press, 1968. 

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deCharms, R. I. Bridgeman, W. J. Leadership Compliance and Group Behavior , 
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