Classroom Environment and Self-Control Skills and Their Relationship with Adolescents Violence in th...

Qutaiba Agbaria, Almaza Atamna

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Classroom Environment and Self-Control Skills and Their Relationship with Adolescents Violence in the Arabic Community of Israel

Qutaiba Agbaria1,, Almaza Atamna2

1Educational Research and Development Authority, Al-Qasmie College, Baqa el Gharbieh, Israel

2Learning & Instruction Department, Al-Qasmie College, Baqa el Gharbieh, Israel

Abstract

This research aims to examine the relationship between classroom environment and self-control skills, and the prevalence of violence among Arab adolescents in Israel. The sample included 200 pupils with ages ranging between 13-15 from seventh to the ninth grade. Research hypotheses predicted that there was a statistically-significant inverse correlation between classroom environment and physical violence, and between self-control and physical violence; and that there is a statistically-significant positive correlation between age and self-control and between physical violence and classroom environment. Finally, the hypothesis predicted that there were statistically significant differences in physical violence, self-control and classroom environment that can be attributed to gender. The results of the research showed that there was an inverse correlation between the classroom environment and between self-control and violence. The more self-control pupils have, the lower the level of violence would be, which supports the hypothesis. The findings also revealed that there was no statistically-significant correlation between age, anger and physical violence. The results also reflected a positive correlation between age and classroom environment, and an inverse correlation between age and self-control, that is, growing in age leads to lowering the level of self-control, and these results supported the hypothesis on this regard. Finally, the research concluded a number of recommendations that will be discussed.

Cite this article:

  • Agbaria, Qutaiba, and Almaza Atamna. "Classroom Environment and Self-Control Skills and Their Relationship with Adolescents Violence in the Arabic Community of Israel." American Journal of Applied Psychology 2.2 (2014): 42-52.
  • Agbaria, Q. , & Atamna, A. (2014). Classroom Environment and Self-Control Skills and Their Relationship with Adolescents Violence in the Arabic Community of Israel. American Journal of Applied Psychology, 2(2), 42-52.
  • Agbaria, Qutaiba, and Almaza Atamna. "Classroom Environment and Self-Control Skills and Their Relationship with Adolescents Violence in the Arabic Community of Israel." American Journal of Applied Psychology 2, no. 2 (2014): 42-52.

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1. Introduction

The current research aims to examine the relationship between classroom environment and self-control skills as well as violence among Arab adolescents in Israel. The last two decades have witnessed a growth in the level of violence in this community, prompting many researchers to study this phenomenon. Interestingly, violence was particularly prevalent within educational institutions, as the school is a part of its’ cultural surroundings and the social and political context around it, and it is where student spend a large proportion of their time (Abas,; 2002 Gomble & Zohar, 2005).

Israeli schools are certainly nonviolence-free, like all schools around the world (Benvenishti, 2002). Research indicates that 40 % of students in Israeli schools are subjected to various forms of violence (Benvenishti, Zeira, & Astor, 2002). Some studies that were conducted by the Rama Center (RAMA, 2011). showed that there is a variation in this phenomenon between the Arab and Jewish communities, and mentions rate of violence in the Arab schools that is lower by 3%, moreover, another report points out that being involved in incidents of violence and the use of non-lethal arms, threats and extortion, and exposure to physical violence by teachers, can lead to losing the sense of security (RAMA, 2011).

Violence is one of the main problems in schools and have become a heavy burden on those responsible because of their daily interaction with such behaviors, and it has become a source of stress for teachers, parents and psychological health professionals (Benvenishti, Huri-Kasabri, Rosiner & Astor, 2005).

There are a large number of researches that tried to examine and interpret the personal factors that affect violence (Agbaria, Ronen & Hamama, 2014; Rolider, 2007). Other researches pointed to the importance of environmental factors such as social classroom environment in determining the level of violent behavior at school and concluded that they are very important, and showed that there is a high correlation between emotional profile and positive environment which will give students a sense of belonging and acceptance and promote their self-image, in addition to activities directed at improving the emotional condition of these students (Bridges, Geyelin, & Janath, 2001; Flaherty, 2001). And from this point we arrived at the first question of the current research which is: How strong is the correlation between positive classroom environment and low levels of violence?

In addition to environmental factors, there is concentration on personal assets associated with violence, as studies have shown (Agbaria & Ronen, 2010; Agbaria, Ronen & Hamama, 2014) and a relationship between the skills of self-control and violence, the higher the skills self-control, the less the motive for anger and aggressive behavior would be. Therefore, current research attempts to examine the relationship between self- control as a personal asset and the level of violence among students, and hence came the second question of the study : How strong is the correlation between the skills of self-control and low levels of violence?

1.1. Violence

Violence is an aggressive act inflected on others, causing damage and harm either physically or emotionally (Barrie & Jackie, 1998). It was defined by (Buss & Perry, 1992) as any behavior by an individual, verbal or physical, explicit or implied, direct or indirect, active or passive, whose consequences are manifested by physical, financial or psychological harm on the same individual or others.

There are various theories that tried to explained violence, some researchers of would attribute it to genetic factors and biological explanations (Eeron, 1977; Simpson, 2001) and they stated that humans have a natural and inherent tendency towards violence, and that they are genetically predisposed and predestined towards it, and there are physiological motives that induce this kind of behavior. This is called the biological perspective (Calvillo, 2000). Other researchers (Freud, 1986) have opted for an interpretation on the basis of psychoanalysis, who believes that human beings are led by a set of innate impulses or instincts, and that people are born with an instinct and a motive to murder and sabotage. Freud argues that the instincts of aggression somehow accumulate and grow gradually until they reach an unbearable extent and then explode in the form of violence; he believes that the aggressive motives are constantly being generated within the individual, and that if they were left without being deterred and regulated, they would lead to engaging in acts violence.

Similarly, other researchers (Dollard & Miller, 1939) attribute violence to frustration while others such as (Bandura, 1973) attribute it to the social interpretation depending on the culture and nature of the society, this theory assumes that violence is acquired by learning, and is gained by observing others as they exhibit violent behavioral models and emulating them, and this is called (Modeling) (Bandura, 1973). Moreover, other researchers (Crick & Dodge, 1996) attribute violence to the cognitive interpretation and the outcomes of the personality analyses; this theory suggests that people develop consistent internal patterns to encode information related to aggressive behavior to reflect their responses to any aggression. The model of cognitive processing of information for aggressive behavior describes how the cognitive processing occurs through social interaction, thus affecting aggressive behavior (Crick & Dodge, 1996).

Violence has four interrelated components, which are(Verbal Violence)that is expressed by cursing others, describing them with offensive words, yelling, insulting, humiliating and causing mental suffering (Horowitz, 1989; Reuveni, 2006). The second is (Physical Violence) which refers to the deliberate use of physical force against others in order to abuse, undermine and harm them. The third component is (Anger) which is an emotional response induced by an insult, a threat or an undesired interference in one’s affairs, manifested by certain facial expressions, along with some distinct gestures by the autonomic nervous system, and some aggressive or defensive symbolic acts, either explicit or subtle (Buss & Perry, 1992; Southam-Gerow & Kendal, 2002). Finally, the last component of violence is (Hostility) which represents the cognitive aspect of the aggressive behavior, and includes the feelings of injustice, hatred and revulsion, and the inner feeling of anger and hostility and hatred directed toward the self or toward a person or situation (Anderson & Bushman, 2002).

1.2. Classroom Environment

Friedman (1995) defines classroom environment as the psychological and social context in which the verbal interactions between teachers and pupils takes place. In other words, it can be described as a set of general characteristics for the classroom atmosphere that is occupied by the interactions among the students, between students and teacher, between students and educational materials and between the teacher and the educational materials. A study by Amborse, Bridges, Dipietro, & Lovett (2010) defined the classroom environment as merely the total intellectual social, emotional and physical contexts that collectively teach the students, and the interactive relationships existing among the students themselves and between students and teacher, and is one of the influential resources that affect the environment of the classroom.

The classroom environment is determined by a number of interrelated factors involving students and teachers, and a variety of tools, sources and information are used within it in order to achieve the learning objectives (Zidane, 2011). A study by (Moos & Trickett, 1987) defines the classroom environment as the attitudes and trends of learners and teachers, and the relations present among them within the classroom.

The interactive and positive classroom environment contributes to the development of the student's personality, and his or her integration into the school environment and the community surrounding it. Many educational theorists (Swe khine & Swechiew, 2001) believe that the classroom is a dynamic social system which depends on physical and social effects and factors that are perceived by the students and make up the various situations in the classroom and affect the behavior of the pupils. Based on the previous definitions of the classroom environment, we can summarize it as a set of social relationships as well as a number of regulations and standards that govern these relationships as perceived by the students, that make up the various situations in the classroom and affect student's behavior.

The classroom environment consists of the following dimensions: (Moos & Trickett, 1974), the first dimension (The Relationships Dimension) which includes Affiliation, Teacher support and Involvement. (Friedman, 1995; Zedekiahu, 1988) and the second dimension (Personal Growth): which includes (Goal Orientation). The third dimension is (System Maintenance): includes the (Order and Organization), (Rule clarity), (Teacher Control) and (Innovation and Creativity) (Sita, 1998; Zedekiahu,1988).

Many studies have been conducted to examine the relationship between classroom environment and violence, including: a study by Thomas, Bierman & Powers (2011), which aimed to examine the impact of early classroom experiences on the social development of aggression, where they tested the aggressive behavior of 4179 children from kindergarten to the second grade (aged 5-8), the effects of two important factors were investigated in the context of the classroom: colleagues aggression, and the classroom environment that is characterized by supportive interactions between teachers and pupils. The results showed that classroom environment and aggression are strongly interrelated. And when incorporating the classroom environment and aggression into the predictive model at the same time, these study aspects were able to predict the contrast in the aggressive behavior of the pupils in the second grade.

Studies show that the classroom environments that are characterized by high rates of positive interactions and support between the teacher and the students, tend to promote the development of self-guidance and conflict management skills, and thus reduce aggression among student (Hamre & Pianta, 2005; Wilson, Pianta & Stuhlman, 2007). Positive environments in the classroom reduce aggressive behavior in two ways, first through the teacher's use of disciplinary actions and effective management of strategies that do not promote student misconduct, and when the teacher presents a model to help students to manage conflicts effectively, including support for the emotional and social expression, and problem solving skills (Howes, 2000; Hamre & Pianta, 2005). Blatchford, Edmonds and Martin (2003) conducted a study aimed to find out the relationship between the size of the class and social behaviors including violent behavior among students, the study was conducted on a sample of 500 pupils, researcher has used the method of observation, and a questionnaire has been administered by the teacher. The results show that there was a positive relationship between violent behavior and class size that is the large number in the classroom makes students wander more. The length of the school day and the poor organization of lessons schedule are all factors that increase the pupil’s aggressive behavior.

1.3. Self-control

The concept of self-control can be interpreted from the perspective of the social and cognitive learning, and was defined by (Bandura, 1976) as the process of controlling the mental, behavioral and emotional responses using cognitive methods in varied positions, resulting in self-promotion. The frameworks of these two concepts and the relevant factors were presented, and he elaborates (Bandura, 1976) that the individual's ability to control his behavior is the cornerstone of self-control, which is a fundamental principle of the theory of Self-Efficacy Theory, the individual feels that he is able to cope with difficulties and challenges, and perform the desired behavior. It is one of the important factors that affect the behavior, it also occupies an important place in the cognitive behavior modification task, especially depression its’ accompanying despair, pessimism and feel of inability (Bandura, 1976).

Rosenbaum (1998) defined self-control as a set of targeted cognitive skills, these skills enable individuals to achieve their goals, and to overcome the difficulties associated with the ideas, emotions, and behaviors, and to postpone the gratification of needs and desires, and dealing with the pressure, and the use of cognitive skills and strategies to solve problems in order to deal with the internal responses, and believing in the ability to adjust this internal responses. Rosenbaum (1990) highlights that the difference between the individuals' response to success or failure is the result of his or her perception on having the required abilities to achieve the success. This is one of the most significant factors that trigger the individual's motivation towards learning ; when he believes that his success was due to his abilities and capacities and not due to some external factors, his self-efficacy level rises which makes him expect even more success and thus his motivation is increased. Ronen (2003) also mentions that self-control is a set of secondary and behavioral skills that an individual learns in order to suppress and control many undesired behavioral patterns without any external influence.

Several studies have highlighted the inverse or negative relationship between self-control and violence (Heiby & Mearige, 2002). A study by Agbaria & Ronen (2010) has examined violent behavior among Palestinian adolescents in Israel. Results showed that there was a correlation between self-control skills and violence, and supported the study hypotheses, and also stressed the importance of developing self-control skills as a means to reduce violent behavior. Another study suggests that one of the main reasons for aggressive behavior and anger is the individuals' failure to control themselves, and therefore training on self-control will significantly reduce aggressive behavior and anger (Agbaria, 2014; Denson, Capper, Oaten, Friese & Schofiel, 2011). Moreover, a study by Dewall, Dekman, Gailliot & Bushman (2011) concluded that the brain consumes a substantial amount of glucose in the process of self-control, which can dramatically obstruct aggressive behavior and violence.

In another study about the relationship between physical violence and aggressive beliefs, empathy with others, self-control and cooperative skills among students in a rural town in China, the sample included 1.719 pupils from seventh to ninth grades in a rural town in central China and the results indicated that 17.9% of students responded that they have had experienced a certain form of physical violence during the last 12 months, and that physical violence in males was higher at 24.7 % compared with the females which stood at 10.7% (Wang, Chen, Xiao, Ma Y & Zhang, 2012). After adjusting for factors such as gender and age, the results of analysis indicated that those who had a high-level of violent beliefs were more likely to get involved in violent acts, it also turned out that the most significant factor that protects against violence was self-control. In another research that aimed to examine the impact of a program to develop self-control skills for those who had behavioral problems and discipline disorders, the results showed that 60% of students have succeeded in changing the angry acts they used to do, and almost ceased verbal violence and decreased their physical violence. Moreover, 70% of them reported that they have improved their self-control skills (Global education, 2003).

The thorough review of literature and theoretical frameworks in this field shows that the violent behavior is a social behavior influenced by the social environment in which the individuals live, and that self-control skills can lead to more psychological and social adjustment, more self-control and better management of aggressive behavior and emotions.

1.4. Age, Gender and Violence

Several studies have been conducted, including one by Tapper and Boulton (2004) which linked gender with indirect violence, verbal and physical violence, and studied a sample of 74 pupils in primary school, aged between of 7-12 years in British schools. Researchers used direct observation, self-reporting peer-reporting measures for aggressive behavior. Results indicated that males were more likely to involve in physical aggression than females, and no significant interactions between gender and age were observed. Yet another study by Owens, Shute & Slee (2005) was conducted in order to identify the relationship between violence and age and gender, the sample consisted of 590 pupils (both males and females) with ages ranging between 13-15 years in a secondary school in Australia. Results showed that males were more likely to engage in physical and verbal violence than females, but they are less likely to commit indirect offences than females. It also it also turned out that physical violence decreases with advancing in age, and on the contrary, verbal violence indirect violence tend to decrease with age.

1.5. Research Hypotheses

There is a statistically-significant inverse correlation between classroom environment and physical violence.

There is a statistically-significant inverse correlation between self-control and physical violence.

There is a statistically-significant correlation between age and self-control; and between physical violence and classroom environment.

There were statistically-significant differences in physical violence, self- control and classroom environment that can be attributed to gender.

2. Research Methodology

2.1. Participants

Table 1. Sample classifications, number and percentages, N = 200

A sample of 200 pupils was selected, of whom 114 were females and 86 were males, with ages ranging between 13-15 years, they were students in seventh through ninth grades in the preparatory stage at schools located in Al-Mothalath Al-Shamale region and was selected using the Convenience Sampling method. The sample was taken in a manner that would enable it to capture the general characteristics of the students in terms of educational level and gender, these students are residents of villages and towns in the region and come from diversified social backgrounds. The sample categories and classifications are listed in Table 1.

2.2. Research Tools

2.2.1. Violence Measurement Scale (AGQ Aggression Questionnaire) by Buss and Perry (Buss & Perry, 1992), which consists of 29 items with Likert's five-point scale (1 for Strongly Disagree and 5 for Strongly Agree). Its questionnaire measures four dimensions:

Anger, Physical Violence, Verbal Violence and Hostility. There are some items that have opposite formulation (8, 9 and 16) because this questionnaire examines student's attitudes towards violence. The coefficients of reliability for this questionnaire were derived and calculated as follows: physical violence and anger (r = 0.83), hostility (r = 0.79), and verbal violence (r = 0.73). In another study carried out by Agbaria et al (2014),these coefficients were calculated using " Cronbach's alpha" method for the Arabic version of the scale, estimating the coefficient for the entire measure to be (r =0.84), physical violence (r =0.67), verbal violence (r = 0.50), anger (r = 0.67) and hostility (r = 0.56). In the current research," Cronbach alpha" coefficient of the total internal consistency is calculated for the violence questionnaire (α =.78), and for the first dimension "anger" it was valued at (α = .65), whereas for the second dimension "physical violence" it was (α = .74), and for the third dimension "verbal violence" it was calculated to be (α =.28) and finally for the fourth dimension which is "hostility" it was estimated at (α = .45). Therefore, this research will concentrate on physical violence because of the low reliability coefficient for verbal violence and hostility.

2.2.2. Classroom Environment Scale (CES) by Trickit and Moos (Trickit & Moos, 1974). Which was translated to Hebrew and proofed by Manor (Fredman, 1995; Manor, 1981; Sita, 1998; Zedekiahu, 1988) . It was translated to Arabic by the researcher. The measure in its' final form consists of 90 items describing particular situations in the classroom, covering three main areas and measuring 9 dimensions that are strongly related to the classroom environment, the answer to these items is either correct or incorrect.

The Relationship Dimensions: Involvement: includes the extent to which students are engaged in participating in classroom activities and their involvement in them. Affiliation: pupils' tendency to participate and cooperate in the implementation of collective activates in an atmosphere of positive social. Teacher Support: help and assistance the teacher provides to the students to encourage them. The Personal Growth or Goal Orientation Dimensions: Task Orientation: the teacher is aware of what is happening and has the ability to determine what needs to be done in order to achieve the objective. Competition: how keen are students to excel in the academic achievement and assess the difficulties to obtain high evaluation. System Maintenance and Change Dimensions: Order and Organization: achieving a physical and psychological classroom environment that encourages learning and good management of the classroom activities. Rule Clarity: the presence of specific and clear regulations and instructions that apply to all students, and examines the extent to which pupils are aware of the consequences of violating, these regulations. Teacher Control: means his or her ability to control the variables surrounding the classroom environment. Innovation: means Creativity and carrying out activities in new ways that no one has ever attempted before, and the number of directed events planned by the teacher.

There are 17 items that have opposite formulation (5, 8, 10, 11, 24, 26, 28, 32, 36, 40, 48, 50, 54, 72, 79, 81 and 85). The reliability coefficients were derived and calculated as follows: In a study conducted by Moos and Trickit (1974) the reliability coefficients ranged between (0.67 and 0.85). In the current research, Cronbach's alpha coefficient was calculated to measure the internal consistency of the classroom environment questionnaire and was found to be (α = 0.81).

This coefficient was also calculated to gauge the internal consistency of the nine dimensions and was found to be (α =.57) for the first dimension which is the "Involvement" and (α =.48) for the second "Affiliation", (α = .55) for the third " Teacher Support", (α = .27) for the forth "Task Orientation", (α = .48) for the fifth " Competition", and (α = .55) for the sixth "Order and Organization", (α = .33) for the seventh " Rule Clarity", (α = .32) for the eighth "Teacher Control", and finally (α = .26) for the ninth dimension which is "Innovation". And for the purpose of this research, the items corresponding to the following dimensions were canceled due to the low reliability coefficient they have had : Task Orientation, Competition, Rule Clarity, Teacher Control and Innovation.

2.2.3. Rosenbaum's Self-Control Scale (Adolescence Self Control Scale): that was presented in (Rosenbaum, 1980): This scale was designed to assess individual differences in self-control skills. The questionnaire examines self-reported use of knowledge and strategies to solve problems in order to deal with the emotional and physiological reactions.

The questionnaire consists of 32 items that represent different information on the skills of self-control: the ability to postpone some needs, for example : 3 - when I need to go to the toilet and I have to wait until the end of the lesson, I try to convince myself that I can control myself. Another example is the ability to overcome pain : 2 - when I am about to receive a vaccine injection and I'm scared, I try to imagine a fanciful thing because this helps me overcome my fear. And finally the ability to organize such as : 1 - when I'm doing a boring homework, I think about the less boring aspects of it and I also remind myself of the excellence and achievement that are going to happen as a result of this work.

The students can answer this questionnaire based on Lekert’s six-point scale (1 -Absolutely not like me2- not enough like me 3- a little not like me 4-a little like me 5- enough like me 6- absolutely like me).There were 9 items with opposite formulation which are 4, 6, 8, 14, 17, 18, 26, 31 and 32. The reliability coefficients were derived and calculated as follows: The answering form was examined, the scale ranged between (3-) and (3) points, which indicates the extent to which the student believes the item applies to him. The questionnaire was fitted for pupils by Rosenbaum and Ronen (1991). It was also used in several studies, including a study by Agbaria et al. (2014), and the reliability coefficients were evaluated using Cronbach’s Alpha method in the Arabic version, yielding an overall reliability coefficient for the total scale of (r=0.77). In the current research, "Cronbach’s alpha" coefficient was calculated to reflect the total internal consistency of the self-control scale and was valued at (α=0.77).

After the elimination of dimensions with low stability coefficients from the three scales, we notice that the scales and all of their dimensions have very high degrees of constancy and they do not contain items with a saturation level of less than 0.4.Therefore, the scales used in the current research are reliable and constant.

2.2.4. Measure of personal details: gender and age.

2.3. Research Procedures

Approval was obtained from the concerned authorities after clarifying the purpose of the research, and we were granted the permission to distribute the questionnaires to the students. Schools were selected from Al-Mothalath Al-Shamale region and the sample was selected using the Convenience Sampling method, an interview took place with school principals and they were briefed on the subject of research, and then a written consent form was sent to the parents of each student to approve his or her participation or disapprove it. After coordination with school principals and setting a date to distribute the questionnaires, we went to the schools at certain times that would fit in with the daily schedule of the school, and explained to the students the goal of filling out forms and that their responses will be individual and strictly confidential; and then the questionnaires were distributed on the sample in Arabic, which were translated from English to Hebrew by Manor (1981) and used in previous research. For the purpose of the current research the Classroom Environment Scale as well as this scale were translated from Hebrew into Arabic by the researcher with the help of two Hebrew language teachers, then the reliability coefficient " Cronbach's alpha "was calculated.

The questionnaire was distributed to students in groups over the course of two hours, accompanied by the researcher and a teacher from the school; students have expressed interest and cooperated along the process. All implementation procedures of the study tool were supervised by the researcher in the participating schools.

3. Results

3.1. The results of the first hypothesis: In order to test the first hypothesis, that there was statistically-significant inverse correlation between the classroom environment and violence, Pearson’s correlation coefficient has been used, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2 shows that there is an inverse correlation between the classroom environment and violence in the general dimension (r = - 0.18, P <0.01). That is, a more positive classroom environment means less violence.

The table also shows statistically significant inverse relationships between anger and affiliation( r = -0.17, P <0.05), the greater the degree of affiliation, the less anger is observed ;and between anger and teacher support(r = - .20, P <.05), the greater the degree of teacher support, the lower the anger ; and finally between anger and the general dimension of classroom environment (r = - .15, P <.05), that is, if the classroom environment was more positive, the level of anger would decline. Moreover, the table shows statistically significant inverse relationships between physical violence and affiliation (r = - .15, P <.05), the greater the affiliation, the lower the physical violence ;and between physical violence and teacher support (r = - .29, P <.01), the more teacher support, the less physical violence ; and between physical violence and the classroom environment in the general dimension (r = - .26, P <.01), that is, when the classroom environment was more positive, physical violence would decrease. The table also shows statistically significant inverse relationships between the violence in the general dimension and affiliation (r = - .17, P <.05), the greater the degree of affiliation, the lower the level of violence; and between violence in the general dimension and teacher support (r = - .20, P <.05), the more support teacher provides, the lower violence will be present. The table also shows a statistically significant positive relationship between involvement and anger (r = .15, P> .05), the greater the involvement, the more anger there will be; and between involvement and violence in the general dimension (r = .16, P> .05), the greater the involvement, the level of violence would rise. These results support the hypothesis.

Table 2. Pearson’s correlation coefficient and the statistical significance of the relationship between violence and classroom environment

3.2. The result of the second hypothesis : To examine the second hypothesis, whether there is a statistically significant inverse correlation between self-control and violence, Pearson correlation coefficient has been used, which indicated that there is an inverse relationship between self-control and violence in the general dimension (r = - .32, P <.01), the more self-control, the lower the level of violence. It also showed that there is an inverse relationship between self-control and anger (r = - .20, P <.01), the greater the self-control, the lower the anger. And finally, there was an inverse relationship between self-control and physical violence (r = - .43, P <.01), the greater the self-control, the lower physical violence would be. These results support the hypothesis.

3.3. The results of the third hypothesis: To examine the third hypothesis that there is a statistically significant correlation differences between age and self-control, violence classroom and environment, Pearson correlation coefficient has been used, which showed:

In terms of violence scale: the lack of correlation any statistically significant correlation between age and anger (r= .11, P> .05,) and also between age and physical violence, (r = .03, P> .05), and between age and violence in the general dimension (r = .11, P> .05).

In terms of classroom environment scale: It turned out that there was a positive relationship between age and involvement(r = .33, P <.01). The higher the age, the greater the involvement, and an inverse relationship between age and affiliation (r = - .36, P <.01), the higher the age, the lower the affiliation; and there was no statistically significant relationship between age and teacher support (r = - .09, P> .05), and between age and classroom environment in the general dimension (r = .09, P> .05).

In terms of the self- control scale: The results showed an inverse relationship between age and self-control (r = - .17, P <.05), the greater the age, the lower self-control would be. These results partially support the hypothesis.

3.4. The result of the fourth hypothesis: To examine the fourth hypothesis, whether there were statistically significant correlation differences in the violence, self- control and classroom environment that are attributed to gender, t-test was performed and the means and standard deviations were calculate for the two groups, as shown in Table 3. Table 3 shows that there are statistically significant differences between males and females in terms of violence in the general dimension t (196.55) = 3.86, P <.001 in favor of males, as well as statistically significant differences between males and females in terms of anger t (196.55) = 2.78, P < .01 in favor of males also, and also there were statistically significant differences between males and females in physical violence, t (196.55) = 6.37, P <.001 with males having the higher rating here as well. Suggesting that, statistically, males are more violent than females.

Table 3. Means and t test for research variables

The table also shows that there is a statistically significant difference between males and females in the classroom environment in the general dimension in favor of females t (198) = 4.67, P <.001, as well as statistically significant differences between males and females in affiliation t (198) = 2.12, P < .05 in favor of females also, and statistically significant differences between males and females in teacher support t(198) = 3.40, P <.01 in favor of females, and statistically significant differences between males and females in the classroom order and the organization t (198) = 2.93, P <.01 in favor of females. And the absence of any statistically significant differences between males and females in the involvement t (198) = .39, P> .05. Therefore, females have a more positive classroom environment compared to males in statistical terms.

And finally, the table shows that there is a statistically significant difference between males and females in self-control in favor of females t (198) = 5.05, P <.001. Therefore, female have a higher level of self-control than males to a statistically significant extent. Which supports the hypothesis.

4. Discussion

This research aims to examine the relationship between classroom environment and self-control skills on one side, and violent behavior on the other, from the perspective of primary schools students in Al-Mothalath Al-Shamale Region. Results highlighted a negative relationship between self-control and violence, and also between classroom environment and violence.

4.1. Classroom Environment

The results of the first hypothesis show that there is an inverse correlation between classroom environment and physical violence, that is, the more positive the classroom environment, the lower the level of violence would be, which is consistent with outcomes of several previous studies, who in total concluded that classroom environment and violence are linked together, and classrooms which are characterized by high rates of positive and supportive interactions between teacher and students are less likely to witness violent acts among students, and that effective management of the classroom by teachers will always promote a positive atmosphere in the classroom and reduce violence among students (Thomas, Powers & Bierman, 2011; Wilson, Pianta & Stuhlman, 2007). This is also consistent with what was confirmed by theorists on the importance of the environment - in general - in the synthesis of human behavior (Skinner, 1975), Particularly their emphasis on the impact of classroom environment in the behavior of pupils and its formation and modification.

The behavioral theories usually emphasize the importance of creating good classroom environmental conditions to enhance learning, and they stress that if these conditions change so that they no longer encourage the process of learning to proceed in a reasonably positive direction, pupils will be less effective and less interested in learning in general. The results of this hypothesis could be interpreted using the Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977; Eron, 1987), which assumes that the acquisition of behavior is done through modeling, that is, the behavioral patterns of the pupils and the teacher in the classroom environment affect each other. Behaviorism often stresses the importance of the environment and its’ components that are the determinants of the individual’s behavior. Research also suggests that classroom environment has a strong impact on the daily behavior of a pupil as well as on the formation of this behavior and at the same time determines his status in the school. (Kuperminc, Leadbeater & Blatt, 2001).

This interpretation of the result can be attributed to the assumption that the classroom environment is more than just the buildings or physical surroundings, and that its importance is due to the process of social interactions and communication that take place between students and teachers and among students themselves. Classroom environment has an impact in shaping and developing the character of students and their involvement in the school and social life (Shemek & Shemek, 1978). Some researchers believe that classroom environment has a strong influence on the student’s sense of belonging to the school and on the evolution of the learning process (Roeser, Midgley & Urdan, 1996; Zedekiahu, 1988). Many of literature, such as a study by Fraser (1998), point out that the classroom environment is one of the factors that help improve students' academic achievement, especially when educational and psychological requirements are provided appropriately. Moreover, other literature, such as (Baek & Choi, 2002) indicated that the classroom environment is closely related to the cognitive, social and emotional development of the pupils.

The current study shows that there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between affiliation and anger and physical violence, that is, with greater the affiliation the degree of anger and physical violence would decrease, which is consistent with studies such as (Thomas, Powers & Bierman, 2011; Wilson, Pianta & Stuhlman, 2007) these findings can be interpreted using what was concluded by researchers (Baumeister & Brewer, 2007; Pellegrini & Bartini, 2000) of the importance of affiliation to reduce violence in children in late childhood and early adolescence, and that when an individual's sense of not belonging increase she develops feelings of selfishness and self-denial and his aggressive tendencies seem to take over, which has an obvious impact on the psychological aspects of the individual.

The interpretation of this result is also may attributed to what was as pointed out by Maslow (Maslow, 1987) and the importance of belonging as he placed it in the third level on his hierarchy; he states that the human being is inherently social and wants to be loved by others through his affiliation to them and by sharing their principles and slogans that define the course of his life, and therefore affiliation occupies an important position among the needs of the individual.

4.2. Self-control

The results indicate that there is an inverse relationship between self-control and physical violence, the more self-control, the lower physical violence would be. This is consistent with the results of a study by (Heiby & Mearige, 2002). The results indicate that individuals with low levels of self-control skills were more likely to engage in violence. They are also consistent with the study of (Özden, 2008), which suggests that the lower the skills of self-control, the greater the misconduct would be, and also consistent with the study of Agbaria and Ronen (2010), which suggests that there is a correlation between self-control skills and violence; in which the hypotheses stress the importance of developing the skills of self-control as a means to reduce violent behavior.

The results of the current study are also in line with a study by (Denson, Capper, Oaten, Friese & Schofiel, 2011), which indicates that one of the main causes of aggressive behavior and anger is the failure of individuals to control themselves autonomously, and so the training on self-control would reduce violent behavior and anger. Moreover, these results fit in well with the study of (Wang, Chen, Xiao, Ma & Zhang, 2012) as that the results indicate that the pupils should lower their violent beliefs and improve the skills of self-control because it helps in preventing them from committing physical violence.

In addition, this result is in line with the theoretical framework on this regard, as the literature in this particular field suggest that the higher the self-control, the more capable the person would be to subdue his caprices and drifts, and to direct himself based on rational standards. Bandura (1977) also suggested that self-control covers three areas: mental, behavioral, emotional. He stressed the role played by the self-control in the thought and behavior of humans and directing many of the mental and intellectual processes, and aligning them with the principles of logic and practicality and away from the passions and human emotional tendencies (Bandura, 1977).

Another study conducted by Jean & Davis (2003) suggests that parents and teachers should train adolescent on self-control, because many theorists believe that aggression is a part of our human biological legacy; for example, Freud (1986) used to stress on the destructive aspects of aggression, and that self-defense is a natural tendency.

This result can be explained by the argument that the skills of self-control lead to more psychological and social adaptation, as well as better control of aggressive behavior and more command of emotion ; The literature highlight the importance of self-control in many psychological, educational, social, ethical, and therapeutic fields. That is, higher levels of self-control leads to more deliberation, accuracy, and analysis in the performance of tasks, problem solving, choice, judgment, and decision-making, and on the other hand, low levels of this variable (self-control) means a totalitarian thinking, impulsivity, and lack of precision in these matters (Merrell & Kenneth, 1990).

An additional explanation of this result is achieved by the other direction which has attempted to combine the cognitive and behavioral techniques of self-control, for the purpose of achieving a better level of therapeutic efficacy and multiple behavioral improvements in individuals who suffer from various mental disorders. Crick and Dodge’s have formulated a model (Crick & Dodge, 1996) for the cognitive information-processing for aggressive behavior, this model describes how the cognitive processing occurs through social interaction, and consequently affects aggressive behavior, and it assumed that children develop consistent internal patterns to encrypt information on aggressive behavior and reflecting their reactions to any aggression (Crick & Dodge's, 1996).

According to the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) theory, the individual can interpret the various negative situations he faces into more realistic positive ideas, which helps him to confront these situation is a better way and stay away from aggressive and emotional behavior and this implies that there is a need to develop self-control skills for those who have behavioral problems. So it can be said that the search results have supported the second hypothesis, which states that there is a statistically-significant inverse correlation between self-control and physical violence.

4.3. Age and Physical Violence

The results of the current research show that there is no relationship between age and physical violence, this result contradicts with those of studies such as (Owence et al, 2005) which, in total, indicated that there is a relationship between age and violence and that there is a difference in the level of physical violence between age groups. This result can be explained by the fact that the physical violence, anger, and violence in general are observed in the behavior of individuals in different age groups, regardless of their differing motives, attitudes methods and results, and is related to personality traits as well as environmental, cultural and social characteristics along with other factors.


4.3.1. Age and Classroom Environment

The results of the current research indicate the absence of a statistically-significant relationship between age and classroom environment.

This result is not in line with the conclusions of studies such as (Bar-Tal, 1994), which indicates that students in upper grades tend to show some sort of satisfaction of teachers, education programs, and social relations, and that the classroom environment gradually transforms into a negative environment as student advance in age.

This can be explained by the fact that the members of the sample are close to each other in terms of age, so it is possible that the results will be similar among all groups, and are very close to the average of all age groups and thus cannot be deemed seniors.


4.3.2. Age and Self-control

The findings of the present research highlighted an inverse relationship between age and self-control that is with advancing age, the level of self-control seems to decrease.

This result is inconsistent with the findings of many studies that have suggested the presence of a relationship between age and self-control. This can possibly be attributed to the fact that the students participating in the study are in early adolescence (13-15 years). This age is generally characterized by emotional volatility, delicacy and intensity. The adolescent is quickly affected by the various influences no matter how trivial, and his responses are easily triggered by any reason. This is evident in the intense responses to some everyday situations which are characterized by screaming and cursing, and other irrational actions that reflect a state of turbulence through which the adolescent tries to establish his personality and identity, where some succeed and others fail (Teenage Crisis). In addition to that, there are the physical, mental, and sexual changes which are sometimes non homogeneous. Some of these changes might be delayed and others might come early and both cases cause distress and anxiety. Another aspect is self-image, some teenagers feel that they have an inferior social status among their peers. All of these indicators can lead to psychological distress, which would have an impact on the behavior and discipline of the adolescent (Ziv, 1984).

This can be attributed to the fact that these students come from intermediate to poor social and economic backgrounds, and this leads to anxiety, turbulence and uncertainty as well as low levels of discipline and self-control (Addad, 1989).

4.4. Gender and Violence

The current research suggests that there is a statistically significant difference between males and females in physical violence and anger with males having the higher degrees, in other words, males are more violent than females in statistical terms.

This result is consistent with the studies of (Tapper & Boulton, 2004; Owens, et al, 2005) and can be interpreted in light of the biological factor which implies that there is a genetic predisposition and physiological drives that lead to violence and pushes the individual towards it. Some researchers (Eeron, 1977; Simpson, 2001; Violet, 2007) have argued that there is a relationship between Testosterone and violence tendencies. Difference between males and females can also be attributed to the family’s style of upbringing, males have the freedom to act, and they are granted the right to feel independent much more than the females according to the social perceptions of propriety. Another factor is the authoritarian domination of males in the family. Therefore males are more vulnerable to situations of physical violence. These findings can be attributed to the social upbringing patterns that consider it acceptable to teach the male child violence and toughness and even encourage this style of behavior, whereas females are expected to demonstrate tenderness and kindness. Whatever a male child does has a justification, while the female is held responsible for every action she takes.


4.4.1. Gender and Classroom Environment

The results indicate that there is a statistically significant difference between males and females in the positive classroom environment in favor of females, which means that females tend to have a more positive perception of the classroom environment than males do.

This is consistent with studies such as (Abbas, 2003; Attias, 2005), and can be attributed to the fact that females show some sort of positive relationship towards the classroom and school, and they also evaluate it more positively than males (Sadekyaho, 1988).

It can also be attributed to the fact that females have a smaller room of options than males, which implies that females are more able to adapt with the environment, due to the innate biological nature of females, as they are more committed to the family’s social life than males which has a positive effect on their social relationships with others. Golman (1998) found through his research that females are more aware of their emotional reactions, more sympathetic and more adaptive in terms of relationships with others and their response to the environment around them.


4.4.2. Gender and Self-control

The results of the current research suggest that there is a statistically significant difference between males and females in terms of self-control in favor of females, which implies that females are more capable of controlling themselves to a statistically significant degree. This can be attributed to the fact that females are more observing of their behavior and actions than males because the culture of the society in which they live seems to impose this upon girls more than boys. Females also engage more often in the act of assessing their behavior and therefore become more aware of the relationship between the actions and the consequences that follow them in her life, which is consistent with the Cognition and Social Learning Theory. This theory suggests that the human interacts with the environment and behavior, that is the environment affects the behavior of the individual, and similarly the individual can actively and knowingly affect and change the environment. In other words, the cognitive factors of the individual influence and are influenced by him (Bandura, 1976). This can be explained by the fact that females possess more emotional intelligence than males, as well as their ability to control their emotions and distinguishing between them and the emotions of others and use this information to guide their actions and thoughts.

5. Conclusions

A thorough review and discussion of these results will show that there is a relationship between the dimensions of classroom environment and the skills of self-control as well as the physical violence in the preparatory schools in the geographical region in which this study was conducted (Al-Mothalth Al-Shamale), these results reveal that violence in this stage is a serious and complex issue, that is the result of the interaction between several factors related to the student and the surrounding environment within the school, especially the classroom environment and the ability of the student to control himself or herself. The findings also showed that males are more prone to physical violence than females.

This research was limited to its’ sample of only 200 pupils from the Al-Mothalth Al-Shamale region, which represents only 10% of the population of Arab and Muslim population in the country, not to mention that the sample did not include other ethnical and religious communities (Christians, Druze…).

In addition, the current research relied on self-report and reflected the pupil’s own preferences and feelings, so it is possible to employ other methods and tools of research, for example questionnaires can be given to another sample of teachers and pupils.

The current research was conducted using three different scales that might have been exhausting for the student during the answering process, so I recommend that the research is conducted once again using the same scales but with a reduced number of items or they can be divided and administered over several stages. It is also possible to expand the area of the sample to include students from other regions and communities. Similar research can be conducted in the field of classroom environment, self-control and violence but for other categories of students or teachers, while paying attention to other relevant variables, such as: Academic achievement, type of school, teaching strategies or attitudes. Finally, this research was limited to one form of violence, as mentioned in the literature and studies on this topic which is physical violence.

5.1. Recommendations

Since the results showed that there was a relationship between classroom environment and physical violence, we must look for appropriate ways in which to create a positive classroom environment that would promote and enhances the learner's ability to learn without any psychological threats, in order to motivate them and ultimately improve their achievement. Attention must also be directed to incorporating the development of self-control skills into preventive and curative programs and interventions applied to students to prevent behavioral and mental disorders and protect against the influence of negative situations that might face students as well as physical and emotional behavior adjustment. During the process of developing self-control skills, emphasis must be finding a systematic and organized procedure; these skills are called acquired techniques to find appropriate solutions, which are considered a practical expression of the self-control degree in humans. In addition to that, work must be done to develop scales for safe classroom environment that encourages the use of self-control skills that would addresses several dimensions covering all aspects pupil’s life at school. Finally, further studies should be conducted to examine the relationship between self-control and the need for affiliation and the reduction of violence. It is also possible to conduct studies to examine the relationship between teacher support, affiliation and the various dimensions of violence.

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