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Lecture 5: Complexity in the Classroom
Learning Outcomes:
At the end of this lesson, students are able to:
1. describe the elements that contribute to the complexity of a classroom, &
2. discuss the commonly used negotiation strategies that can be applied to resolve conflicts in a
(Thomas L.Good, pg. 1)
A classroom has a complex environment.
Doyle (1986): aspects of classrooms that teachers must necessarily accommodate:


Many different tasks and events occur, records and schedules must be kept, and work must be
monitored, collected and evaluated.
A single event can have multiple consequences (E.g.: waiting for student A to answer question
may increase the motivation, but negatively influence the interest of another student who wants
to respond, and slow the pace of the lesson for the rest of the class...etc.)

II. Simultaneity

Many events take place simultaneously (during a lesson, the teacher not only listens and help
improve students answers, but also monitors unresponsive students for signs of comprehension,
manage students behavior, tries to keep the lesson moving at a good pace).

iii. Immediacy

The pace of classroom events is rapid. Teachers must respond to many events as they happen

iv. Unpredictable

Things often happen in ways that are unanticipated. Students make inferences about how the
teacher feels toward certain students by the way the teacher interact with them in class.

v. History

After a class has met for several weeks or months, common norms and understandings develop.
Events that happen early in the year sometimes influence how classrooms function for the rest of
the year (e.g.: classroom routines, teachers attitudeetc. at the beginning of the year)

VI. Students Individual Differences

Individual differences make the classroom even more complex (intelligence, learning styles,
abilities, interests, needs, tendencies, culture, gender, ethnicity etc.).
Gender differences: Classrooms with both genders are known to be more harmonious
and controlled; interactions are in order, students have more responsibilities, more
understanding and tolerant.
Mixed composition of ethnicity causes the social environment to be more competitive.
Student at-risk: negotiation is needed to address problematic behaviors to ensure
students participation in T & L activities, and to enhance the sense of belonging and selfconcept among these students.
Ethnicity: students of different ethnic and culture show differences in communication
(verbal & nonverbal), social values, world viewetc. If teachers are not sensitive and act
positively toward the differences in ethnicity and culture, among students, they may
create a negative classroom atmosphere that maybe comprised of characteristics such as
misunderstanding, prejudice, and stereotyping.
Learning needs: Some need more structured teaching approaching (direct teaching).
Others may prefer moderately structured teaching approaching (indirect teaching), or
the least structured teaching approach (activity centered such discussion, debate,
problem solvingand do not need so much input from the teacher).
Learning styles: visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, solitary, etc

Classroom complexity can be overcome by negotiation.
Negotiation: discussion among two or more parties in order to meet their individual needs (without
having to have conflicts).
A negotiation is successful when the requirements of all the parties involved are met.


1. By placing less emphasis on one partys needs
Example: Teacher tries to reach a goal thats focused on academic achievement rather than social
activities (required by students) by letting the students discuss among themselves on how to
complete an academic assignment.
2. By showing evidence to support their statements/ notions/opinions/theories that cause conflict
Example: proof to students the importance of academic achievement that should be given priority as
compared to certain social activities proposed by students in class.

3. By solving the problem

Teacher modify teaching strategies to accommodate individual differences/student diversity such as
cultural differences (eg: integrate learning content with culture so that students dont feel left out,
but feel proud and confident instead, when the positive aspects of their culture are being discussed in
the class), learning style (field dependent and field independent), etc.
4. Not taking any action
Have negotiation, but no action taken and no decisions made.
5. Not negotiating at all
Ignore the conflict and proceed with the lesson.


Dont attempt to eliminate all conflicts. Elimination all violence does not mean getting rid of all conflict
(e.g.: moderate conflicts can sometime increase students achievement, motivation to learn, and ability to
solve problems. What is important is not eliminating conflict, but helping students to learn how to
manage it more effectively.

Create a more positive context. Creating a more positive context involves placing students in situations in
which they are more to cooperate than to compete. In a cooperate context, conflicts tend to be resolved
in constructive rather than destructive ways.

Decrease in-school risk factor. Factors that place students at-risk for violent behavior include academic
failure and alienation from classmates. Thus, aspects of the school that can support students academic
success and sense of belongingness should be monitored and improved in an effort to reduce violence.

Teach all students how to resolve conflicts constructively. Students learn how to manage conflict
constructively through training in conflict resolution.