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Feelings, friends and behaviour: noncognitive attributes of pupils at English secondary schools

Challen, Amy (2013) Feelings, friends and behaviour: noncognitive attributes of pupils at English secondary schools. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The noncognitive features of pupils’ experience of school are important: they can affect academic attainment; they have an independent influence on outcomes in later life; and to the extent that they are related to pupils’ wellbeing they have intrinsic importance. I present four empirical papers on the emotional health, friendships, and behaviour of pupils in English secondary schools. The first two empirical papers present the results of a large pragmatic controlled trial of an intervention intended to promote pupils’ resilience and mental health. I estimate the intervention impact on symptoms of poor mental health, behaviour, absence from school, academic attainment, and popularity. I find small and short-lived impacts on depressive symptoms, absence, and popularity, and a small but more lasting impact on academic attainment. I find no impact on anxiety scores or behaviour. The third paper examines behaviour incidents at school. Poor behaviour is a major challenge to the effectiveness of schooling, and the data I have represents a substantial improvement over previous attempts to measure pupil behaviour. I find that demographic characteristics are strong predictors of the number of incidents per pupil, but they do not explain much of the overall variance in incidents. Incident rates per lesson vary strongly by context within the school, suggesting that schools could influence behaviour by modifying the environment. However, a pupil’s rank in terms of behaviour is remarkably persistent over different contexts and through time, suggesting that the tendency to misbehave is a stable noncognitive trait. The fourth paper looks in detail at the impact of time of day and day of the week on behaviour. I find that the strong and persistent day-of-the-week and time-of-day patterns I observe are not due to selective reporting or misreporting, and are not due to endogenous timetabling. Since schedule adjustment could be almost costless, it could be highly cost effective even if the impact on behaviour were much smaller than estimated in my observational data.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Amy Challen
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
Sets: Departments > Social Policy

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