Observation plays an important role in studying people’s behaviors, motives and mannerisms. It facilitates understanding of people and the society in general since human beings are social actors and are best understood when on social platforms (McDaniel, 2008, p. 45). Without accurate observation, perception of others is likely to be imprecise or misled and thus mishandling of their behavior. Likewise, students are prone to different communal perspectives judged from their observed public behavior, which sometimes creates a different perception of them, causing misunderstandings between them and the community at large. Observably, student behavior is sometimes considered difficult and problematic given their attitudes and responses towards society. On this note, I set out to find what exactly student behavior entails and ways of handling it in regard to their physical and observed behavior.
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The chosen location is a University Village, an open public shopping and recreational place that gets most of its clients from a neighboring high school, the university community and an immediate neighborhood in general. I arrive here at exactly ten in the morning and find the place to be busier than usual. There are a lot of people here today although at any given time, the number of people present in this village is always more than one hundred (through approximation) and thus makes it possible for selection of a suitable student to put under observation. This is easy because those seen in the area are not limited in race or social class but majorities of the people are Americans and Europeans, few Asians and minority of African decent by race and most of them look middle class by status quo.
People found here are not age-restricted either and include children as young as five, to adults as old as approximately seventy. There are men and women, children and teenagers as well as older people who could be in their sixties. Due to the time of the season, most ladies are dressed in summer dresses, some as short as above-the-knee and others ankle-length while men are dressed in casual jeans and T-shirts or light sweaters. The environment itself offers a favorable atmosphere, with numerous fashion shops, salons and burger eateries where people enjoy their free time doing either shopping, eating buggers, socializing or strolling around and this makes it a perfect location for observing student behavior.
I choose one of the exits of a burger shop located to the east, pull up a chair and sit adjacently outside and start observing people as they come in and out in different turns. I find out that am only seeing strangers here for the first time. After some time, am caught up with the attention of a teenager, whom is totally unrelated to me, in skate shoes, probably a high school student, skating leisurely into the shop. I watch him outside as the he enters and takes sometime in and then comes out with a burger in hand. While outside, the teenager walks around aimlessly, admiring fashionable items sold in the adjacent and opposite shops while enjoying his burger. I observe him for approximately five minutes trying to understand his physical behavior. I notice him smiling at salesmen at some of the shops and discover after some observation that his conduct seems cordial.
His observable behavior keeps changing according to people he meets and according to the way of treatment. His cordial smile keeps on as he moves across the shops and from one point to another, keeping a cordial treat to almost all people he meets. Two points of such interactions greatly interest me as a researcher. At one point, he meets a beautiful lady carrying heavy baggage from one of the shops and says salutations from afar. She responds very well and his smile brightens up. From their initial meeting, it becomes hard to tell if they are related in any way since their interaction seems cordial. She gestures for his help of the baggage to her car. He willingly dashes and helps her carry them to her car. After he is done, he turns back and wishes her a safe journey driving home and continues skating slowly.
On a second case, an elderly man approaches later as I am seated outside, while coincidentally the teenager returns skating leisurely. From their initial meeting, I assume that they are not related. The old mane is not related to me either. The latter slightly misses contact with the man. The former reacts furiously to the latter and the response from the teenager becomes worse. There is an exchange of harsh and abusive words before parting ways. A lot of unanswered questions linger in my mind. Why would an ever-smiling teenage student turn harsh all over sudden? Did he initially react politely and cordially to the lady for other favors? Is this how students react to men differently from women? But if so, why was the reaction to the salesmen in the shops different from the reaction to the man? Is it because the old man viewed teenagers as rogue and careless and mishandled him with words?
Answers to these questions raise prompt action into further research. In understanding communal handling of student behavior, human minds and actions are shaped by experiences they undergo. Social contexts are greatly bound to influence human behavior. On the same note, student behavior is likely to be good when there are favorable social elements to make it so and likewise; it is bound to be bad when there is lack of favorable social elements. Collier (2006, p.44) notes that climate theory contends that positive climate reduces bad student behavior.
Conclusively, communal perception of student behavior and thus communal handling of resultant conduct can be pre-conceptualized or spontaneous. Pre-conceptualized communal perception and bad handling of the same is also pre-determined. Spontaneous perception of student behavior minimally influences observable behavior and results in good conduct and an in turn good handling. In this regard, negative communal perspective results to negative student behavior and in the absence of pre-conceptualized perspective, conduct is prone to be good. Most of teen behavior is influenced by external forces since, according to Lehigh (2007, p.159) “teenagers are resistant to change”.
Just like any other piece of research, this one is prone to limitations. To begin with, this observatory research makes a serious assumption that all students act in the same way. This therefore makes a summative conclusion that might not be valid on a wider given field. There is also blatant ignorance of personality disorders. There is lack of taking into account individual student differences and associated personality traits. This might have contributed to inaccurate conclusions and thus recommendations (Gargiulo, 2011, p. 292).
Berryman, M., Glynn, T. & Wearmouth, J. 2005. Perspectives on Student Behavior in Schools: Exploring Theory and Developing Practice, New York: Routledge.
Collier, K.E. 2006. Middle school teacher perceptions of violent behavior, safe school elements, and preparedness, California: University of Southern California.
Gargiulo, R.M. 2011. Special Education in Contemporary Society: An Introduction to exceptionality, Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
Lehigh, C. D. 2007. Directors of pupil personnel services’ perceptions of student needs, program resources, and service effectiveness for at-risk high school students, Benton: Northern Illinois University Press.
McDaniel, R.G. 2008. Implications and perceptions of students and teachers participating in two Ninth Grade Success Academies during the year of implementation, Auburn: Auburn University Press.