Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours


School of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Richard Berlach


This study explores the nature of low achieving, passive students' interpretations of teacher behaviour towards them, how these interpretations cluster into specific categories and the possibility of a mis-match existing between a teacher's intended behaviour and the student's interpretations of that behaviour. The sample consisted of four year five students, one female and three male students, who were selected from two Perth metropolitan schools. Ethnographic-case study methods were used to conduct the investigation which included fieldnotes, observations, video-taped observations, student interviews and informal teacher interviews. The study revealed that low achieving, passive students have varying interpretations of teacher behaviour. As a result of these interpretations, the subjects seemed to develop passive behaviours which facilitated them avoiding work or participating in lessons. These interpretations clustered around categories that linked with Cooper's description of the 4-factor categories of teacher behaviour namely socio-emotional climate, teacher messages, student interaction and feedback. This is significant in that categorising low achieving, passive students' interpretations could help uncover the origins of passive behaviour in low achieving students. The most revealing finding was that these students had some significant mis-matches between their interpretations of teacher behaviour and the teacher's interpretation of their own behaviour, especially in the areas of socio-emotional climate and teacher messages. The findings of the present study provide new insights that may facilitate further research into the area of passive behaviour in low achieving students.