Responsibility for student success/failure and observed verbal behavior among secondary science and mathematics teachers


  • This paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, New Orleans, LA, 1984.


The study compared selected teacher beliefs and verbal behaviors among secondary science and mathematics teachers. Teacher beliefs included teacher responsibility for student success and failure. These beliefs were measured by the Responsibility for Student Achievement (RSA) Questionnaire which has the locus of control construct as a theoretical basis. Teacher verbal behavior included (1) indirect and (2) direct behaviors and (3) praise and (4) criticism. These behaviors were measured with the Reciprocal Category System (RCS) which is consistent with the methodology of interaction analysis. Comparisons were made on the basis of the following teacher classifications: (1) science/mathematics, (2) junior high/senior high, and (3) teachers of advanced classes/basic classes. Teacher beliefs were not significantly different except for the advanced/basic comparisons. These comparisons produced significant differences in both teacher beliefs and behaviors. Teachers of basic students assumed more responsibility for student success, less responsibility for failure, and were more direct in verbal behavior. In gender comparisons, female teachers were significantly higher in incidences of indirect behavior and combined indirect-direct behavior. These findings suggest that further study of “self-fulfilling prophecy” in terms of these variables may be fruitful. Also, verbal behavior may sometimes be inadequately represented by the common practice of using ratios.