Author: Chan, Chi-yung
Title: An exploratory study of rationality and communication on problem behaviors of secondary school students
Degree: M.A.
Year: 1996
Subject: Problem children -- Education, Secondary
Behavior disorders in children
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Applied Social Studies
Pages: vi, 118, [37] leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
Abstract: This study investigates the rationality and communication among students, teachers, parents and social workers, concerning the problem behaviors of secondary school students. The Theory of Communicative Action of Habermas is used as the study framework. The major concepts including subject-subject relation, lifeworld, communicative rationality, validity claims and ideal speech situation are utilized to analyze the respective rationality and appraise communication in terms of attainment of mutual understanding. A qualitative approach is adopted. Four groups of involved parties participate in focus group discussions or individual interviews. An in-depth case study, with the student, mother and class teacher as the informants is conducted and supplemented with field observations. Results show that problem behaviors are perceived differently by students and adult actors in terms of definition and seriousness. Students rationalize their behaviors to have fun, freedom and learn something in the class. Teachers employ a goal-oriented rationality to maintain school order and control problem behaviors. The rationality of students is ignored in communication resulting a negative self-identity and school image. Communication on problem behavior aims at giving information, enhancing awareness, defining problems, sharing ideologies and exercising power. Mutual understanding is barely achieved due to the domination of adult actors, lack of inter-subjective exchanges of ideologies and legitimacy crisis of school authority. True and correct claims in the speech acts of teachers are frequently challenged by students. The ideals of communication are expected to have higher students' participation, more understanding, freedom of expression and based on mutual concern. The barriers of communication include inadequacy of casual contacts, administrative practices, difference in ideologies, exercise of power and rationalization. It is recommended to take students' perspective seriously; to reduce the status difference between students and teachers; to replace alienating disciplinary procedures by dialogues; and to re-examine the power base of teachers.

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