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Parent perceptions of elementary classroom management systems and their children’s motivational and emotional responses


Classroom management systems emphasizing rewards and consequences have long existed in schools within the US, but parental perceptions of the effects of these systems have largely been ignored. This survey study examined the ways in which 99 parents observed their children responding to various elementary classroom management systems. Regression results showed that behavior chart systems were negatively associated with student autonomous motivation to learn, whereas parent–school relationships and teacher autonomy support were positively associated with autonomous motivation. In hierarchical regression models, the frequency of students receiving rewards was negatively related to parent–school relationships. However, when teacher autonomy support (a strong positive predictor) was added to the model, the effects of reward frequency became non-significant. Parents’ open-ended responses revealed frustrations with systems that caused student anxiety, encouraged dependence on rewards, and oppressed students’ personalities. Implications include consideration of classroom management styles that better promote student autonomous motivation.

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Correspondence to Monica J. Kowalski.

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This study was conducted in accordance with ethical standards for human subjects research and was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the University of Notre Dame. Participants indicated consent by checking a box to continue the online survey after reading details of the study containing all elements of informed consent.

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Kowalski, M.J., Froiland, J.M. Parent perceptions of elementary classroom management systems and their children’s motivational and emotional responses. Soc Psychol Educ (2020).

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  • Classroom management
  • Motivation
  • Self-determination theory
  • Academic engagement