Discipline in the higher education classroom: A study of its intrinsic influence on professional attributes, learning and safety

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Discipline in the higher education classroom is a widely debated phenomenon, especially since it is defined interchangeably with classroom management, which is pertinent to schooling in non-adult institutions. This research aimed to apply the principles of discipline in a higher education context to study the impact of attitude and behaviour on learning conditions while embracing partnered approaches with adult learners to maintain its relevance. The consequences of misbehaviour under the key concepts of disruption and safety in the classroom were examined. This study was conducted within a healthcare professional programme in the UK where theoretical learning is partnered with practical settings to inform evidence-based practice. Within the practical context, the frequency of claims highlighting the impact of undisciplined behaviour persists, while the educational approaches of partners to address this are vague. Thus, the overarching aim of this study was to identify whether discipline in the classroom can act as a behavioural strategy to influence attributes outside the classroom. Using a qualitative methodology, the study compares the perceptions of students at varying levels under a critical realist theoretical framework. The data were collected by means of an online open-ended questionnaire as the first step of action (participatory) research, intended to be a platform to guide reflection, action, and further research. Participant responses clearly associate the action of discipline to an intrinsic value and allow the prediction of its influence on behaviour outside the context of the classroom. The findings further substantiate the intrinsic approach of discipline in predisposing attitudes, which are evidenced as plausible influences on the safety felt within the classroom.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1963391
JournalCogent Education
Issue number1
Early online date8 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Aug 2021


  • Discipline
  • behavioural conditioning
  • educational strategies
  • healthcare values
  • incivility
  • professional attributes
  • psychological safety
  • psychology
  • theory and practice
  • transformation


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