How Can Behavior Affect Academics for Students?

by Van Thompson

Academic achievement isn't always an absolute measure of a student's intelligence. Instead, a variety of factors, such as teacher involvement, parental investment, school quality and student engagement, can affect academic life. Student behavior also plays a major role in academic achievement. A student's behavior can affect his or her ability to learn as well as impact the learning environment for other students.

Disruptive Behavior

Students who behave disruptively by bullying other students, talking during lectures or by requiring the teacher to interrupt lessons to discipline them can have a negative effect on an entire classroom. A 2010 study published in American Economic Journal: Applied Economics found that disruptive students can lower the test scores and academic achievement of an entire classroom. Teachers who have disruptive students in their classrooms may have to spend additional time on behavioral management, reducing the time they spend teaching.

Impulse Control

Neurologists Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt argue in their book "Welcome to Your Child's Brain" that impulse control is one of the most significant factors predicting academic success. Students with poor impulse control have more difficulty motivating themselves to study, do homework and listen in class. This can decrease their ability to excel academically, even when they perform well on IQ and achievement tests. Wang and Aamodt emphasize that rule-setting and teaching frustration tolerance play critical roles in helping children develop impulse control.

Online Disengagement

The recent development of online coursework has wrought some unintended consequences in the classroom. Researchers at Teachers College, Columbia University and the University of Notre Dame revealed that behavioral disengagement, such as ceasing to participate in an online classroom activity, are associated with lower academic performance in both the short- and long-term. Disengaged students in online learning environments who "game the system" – or bypass online learning activities by clicking through exercises – tend to have worse academic outcomes than both engaged and off-task students.

Mental Health Disorders

Learning disorders and mental health problems such as attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, autism and oppositional defiant disorder can dramatically affect student behavior. Students with oppositional defiant disorder, for example, struggle to accept authority and may frequently defy teachers and parents, according to "Child Psychology." Students who need mental health interventions, occupational therapy or psychoactive drugs may behave poorly in class even when teachers have excellent classroom control. This can affect these students' ability to learn, and students with some disorders may be unable to achieve good grades in typical classrooms.

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