Does Using Core Quadrants Lead to More Teacher Self-Efficacy and Less Perceived Problem Behaviour?


  • Laura Batstra University of Groningen
  • Wietske de Vries University of Groningen
  • Ernst Thoutenhoofd University of Gothenburg



core qualities, teacher self-efficacy, medicalisation


PURPOSE. The number of childhood psychiatric classifications and treatments have risen rapidly in Western countries over recent decades. Since child behaviour often arises as a problem in schools, it seems important to find ways to help teachers successfully engage with pupils whose behaviours they experience as challenging. The present study attempts to shift special education teachers’ focus from challenging pupil behaviour, or pupil mental disorder, to teachers’ self-efficacy and less negative perception of pupil behaviour.

METHODS. Ofman’s core quadrant model was used to engage teachers in reflecting on their own key competences, and relate them to possible pitfalls, challenges and aversions in their teaching. The professional development intervention entailed three subsequent team meetings, each lasting two and a half hours. Forty-seven teachers undertook the training, of which half (the control group) were initially put on a waiting list. Via quantitative questionnaires at three different time-points and qualitative post-intervention interviews with teachers involved, we analysed the influence of the intervention on teachers’ perceptions of problem behaviour and the grip they experienced on pupil behaviour (via a measure of self-efficacy). In the interviews, room was also made for reporting other outcomes of the training intervention.

RESULTS. Neither quantitative nor qualitative data analysis revealed an effect of the intervention on self-efficacy or perceived pupil behaviour. The interview data suggest that teachers ascribe pupil behaviour they cannot control to factors outside themselves, primarily child mental disorder.

CONCLUSION. Core quadrant training does not seem to alter how teachers engage with challenging pupil behaviour, nor does it help to reduce disorder thinking in special education. Our findings flag up the importance of better educating teachers about disorder thinking on the one hand, while on the other hand seeking ways to reduce the likelihood that teachers run out of pedagogical options, and instead further build up a sense of self-efficacy.


Points of Interest:

  • Childhood diagnostic classifications are on the rise in recent decades.
  • Teachers often suggest diagnostic investigations of pupils, because they believe this will explain difficult behaviour or academic underperformance.
  • A training aimed to shift the focus from disorder within a child to teacher’s own key competences, pitfalls, challenges and aversions, failed to change self-efficacy, behaviour perception and disorder thinking in teachers.
  • To reduce disorder thinking in schools, simply educating teachers about what disorders are not and cannot explain, might be more effective than training programs, like studied in the present research.


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