Impact of a Citizenship Program on Middle School Students
©2015 Textbook 106 Pages
The focus on behaviour became an important feat to accomplish. The query was based on the disruptive methods students would use in order to circumvent basic rules and regulations within their learning communities. The old standard rule of teacher being in “charge of the classroom” with a mixture of a fear factor, (secretly diagnosed as respect) no longer was evident. <br>President Bush’s introduction of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates was brilliant with ist idea of inclusivity, but near eliminated accountability for those able students. Teachers became the main target group of this experiment in the promotion of all students. They became, scapegoats, if you will, of a system that made them accountable, and left those who should have been accountable in meeting educational objectives: administration, and more so, the student. <br>Teachers became overwhelmed with teaching objectives and a multitude of paperwork to facilitate this new structure of responsibility. Actual teaching was foregone under the weight of segmenting students into their proper groups, then find the time to discipline and ensure that all pass the required end-of-year examinations.<br>The result of these initiatives was to the repeal of NCLB, and schools becoming big business, with the teacher benefiting less under a continual weight of professional servitude, and the standard--no voice.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Statement of the Problem
The topic. This investigatory report was designed to determine the impact of a
school-wide citizenship program on the behavior, attendance, and academic achievement
of students at a middle school. The program was implemented to address student
misbehavior. Simonsen, Sugai, and Negron (2008) suggested that because educators are
very concerned about the effect student misbehavior is having on the school climate, they
need to develop proactive, evidence-based plans to reduce the offending behaviors. In the
2011 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll (Bushaw & Lopez, 2011), lack of discipline was cited
as the third most pressing problem facing schools, behind school funding and
overcrowded schools. Lack of discipline is a problem because widespread misbehavior
can negatively affect the academic achievement of all students (Gest & Gest, 2005;
Horner et al., 2004). Finding ways to prevent or at least respond to behavior problems is
important not only for the school climate but also for the students misbehaving who may
face rejection from teachers and other students, increased academic problems, and who
are at risk for dropping out of school (Stormont, Lewis, & Beckner, 2005; Tyler-Wood,
Cereijo, & Pemberton, 2004).
The research problem. The problem addressed in this investigatory report was
the inappropriate behavior of students at the target middle school located in a
southeastern state. Teachers were concerned about the behavior of students in the
classrooms and elsewhere in the school. Table 1 shows behavior disruptions at the target
school. The increasing numbers of short-term suspensions indicated that misbehaviors
such as refusal to comply with rules, defiance, dishonesty, and aggression were
disrupting learning in the school.
Acts of Crime or Violence, Suspensions, and Expulsions Per 100 Students
Background and justification. Concerns regarding student misbehavior are not
unique to the target school. In the 2008 School Survey on Crime and Safety (Robers,
Zhang, & Truman, 2010) completed by 2,560 school principals, middle school principals
reported the following behaviors occurred in their schools at least once a week: student
bullying (43.5%), gang activities (35.4%), student acts of disrespect for teachers other
than verbal abuse (17.7%), and student verbal abuse of teachers (9.8%). The survey
results also indicated that in several categories, there were more discipline problems
reported at urban schools and schools that had greater numbers of students (76.0% or
more) eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program (U.S. Department of
Agriculture, Food, and Nutrition Service, 2011). Moreover, statistics have indicated that
concerns regarding student misbehavior at middle schools are increasing (Lapointe &
Legault, 2004; Muscott et al., 2004). At the same time, there are federal mandates stating
that educators must fine efficacious ways to reduce these problems. Maag (n.d.) reported
that the 2004 Individual with Disabilities Education Act included these disciplinary
All students, with and without disabilities, deserve to be educated in safe, well-
disciplined schools, and orderly learning environments.
School personnel should have effective techniques to prevent behavior problems
and to deal positively with them if they occur.
A balanced approach to discipline must exist in which the order and safety of
schools is maintained, while also protecting the rights of students with disabilities
to receive a free appropriate public education. (para. 2)
Gable, Hester, Hester, Hendrickson, and Sze (2005) suggested that if educators
are going to meet the requirements for a learning environment that is orderly and the
requirements to ensure students are successful academically, as indicated in the No Child
Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, they will need "the skills and supports to respond to a
rapidly changing school age population" (p. 40). The necessary skills and supports should
include the adoption of researched-based strategies. Epstein, Atkins, Cullinan, Kutash,
and Weaver (2008) stated that two interventions have strong research evidence of
effectiveness in reducing school behavior problems: making environmental changes in
the classroom and explicitly teaching behavior and social skills. In addition,
recommended interventions that have moderate research evidence of effectiveness are (a)
collaborating with colleagues to develop intervention plans, (b) determining the cause of
a student's misbehavior and developing specific response strategies, and (c) adopting a
school-wide program to prevent misbehavior.
Implementation of a citizenship program. At the target school, there was a need
to develop behavioral strategies that would enable all students to learn. Students who
constantly misbehaved needed to be made accountable for their negative behaviors so
that teachers and students could work comfortably without fear of being physically or
verbally attacked by their students. School staff members, administrators, and parents
cooperated to design a system of behavior accountability for students that would improve
the standards of student conduct and ensure the safety of everyone in the learning
After consideration of possible options, the educators, with the support of parents,
chose the Make Your Day (MYD, 2012) program, and it was implemented in fall of
2007. School district administrators organized a day of training for all staff members and
administrators. Epstein et al. (2008) suggested that a program intended to address
behavior concerns should have a school-wide focus and should teach behavior skills; the
MYD program met these needs. MYD "is based on a philosophy that promotes
development of an internal locus of control in students. The basic tenets of this
philosophy are built on human dignity and responsibility" (Philosophy section, para. 1)
Deficiencies in the evidence. Vale and Coe (2006), who evaluated the MYD
program, reported that their evidence regarding outcomes related to academic
achievement and behavior issues was not decisive. They suggested additional inquiries
using a quasi-experimental approach are needed to determine the efficacy of the program.
Osher, Bear, Sprague, and Doyle (2010) also stressed the importance of collecting data
that can be used to assess the success of interventions intended to improve school
discipline. In addition, Greenberg et al. (2003) indicated that multi-year evaluations are
needed in order to determine the sustainability of programs to prevention misbehavior
and promote positive social skills.
Audience. The audience for this investigatory report was the students, staff, and
school administrators at the target school as well as district administrators who would
benefit by having access to the information regarding the effectiveness of the program,
which may be used for future considerations regarding program implementation. In
addition, the information gained would add to the body of literature about the MYD
The setting. The target school is the only middle school within the county;
therefore, all middle school students in Grades 7 and 8 attend this school. The student
population in the 2007-2008 school year, when the MYD program was implemented, was
652. There was a principal, an assistant principal, 42 classroom teachers, 10 regular
substitute teachers, and a support staff of 10. The state sets target proficiency goals in
reading and mathematics that schools must meet to make adequate yearly progress under
the federal NCLB legislation (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). In the 2003-2004 to
2006-2007 school years, the school did not make adequate yearly progress.
Purpose of Report
The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effect of the MYD (2012)
school-wide citizenship program on student academic achievement, attendance, and
short-term behavior suspensions at the target middle school. The criteria that was used to
ascertain if change occurred after the program was been implemented was the interrupted
time series design. Evans (2007) stated this type of evaluative design consists of
"multiple historical measures on a treatment group before and after its exposure to the
program" (Interrupted Time Series section, para. 1). The behavior, attendance, and
academic achievement of students in the 4 years (2003-2004 to 2006-2007) before the
implementation of the program were compared with these areas in the 4 years after
implementation of the program (2007-2008 to 2010-2011). In addition, teachers at the
target school were surveyed in order to determine their perceptions of the MYD school-
wide citizenship program. Both formative and summative questions were asked. The data
gathered to answer the formative question determined if the program was implemented as
intended, and the data gathered to answer the summative questions determined the effect of the program.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
The problem addressed in this study was the inappropriate behavior, which
included refusal to comply with rules, defiance, dishonesty, and aggression, of students at
the target middle school. The purpose of this investigatory report was to determine the
effect of the MYD (2012) school-wide citizenship program on student academic
achievement, attendance, and short-term behavior suspensions at the target middle
school. This chapter begins with literature on concerns regarding school safety followed
by consequences of student misbehavior, zero tolerance, and antisocial behavior.
Developing effective discipline programs is then discussed. Literature, and questions, are
also reviewed regarding approaches to encouraging appropriate student behavior, the
MYD program, and the theoretical framework of the MYD program.
Concerns Regarding School Safety
Stephens (n.d.), executive director of the National School Safety Center,
offered this definition of a safe school:
A safe school is in place when students can learn and teachers can teach in a
welcoming environment, free of intimidation and fear. It is a setting where
the educational climate fosters a spirit of acceptance and care for all students;
where behavior expectations are clearly communicated, consistently
enforced, and fairly applied. (What is a Safe School? section, para. 1)
Borum, Cornell, Modzeleski, and Jimerson (2010) suggested that such plans to
create a safe school must encompass all behaviors from low-level misbehavior to serious
crimes while maintaining an emphasis on school order and safety. School violence is an
area that includes the most serious student misbehaviors and these behaviors must be
addressed when developing a plan to ensure school safety. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC, 2011) stated that school violence includes "bullying,
fighting (e.g., punching, slapping, kicking), weapon use, electronic aggression, and gang
violence" (What is School Violence? section, para. 2).
Creating an environment of learning and safety has become more difficult in
today's society because of school shootings that have created considerable anxiety among
members of the public and have created doubt regarding the safety of schools (Borum et
al., 2010). In recent years, schools have become perceived as being less safe as a result of
school shootings and increases in other violent acts. The CDC (2010a) suggested that
these violent acts being committed by students represent a public health threat and that
"school violence is a subset of youth violence, a broader public health problem. Youth
violence refers to harmful behaviors that may start early and continue into young
adulthood" (para. 2).
Borum et al. (2010), however, argued that the media creates too much of a focus
on school shootings and asserted, "The fear of school shootings is greatly exaggerated in
comparison with other risks such as riding in a car" (p. 27). Cornell (2003) also
contended the publicity that accompanies a school shooting may have contributed to
several additional school shootings in the 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 school years.
Cornell suggested that some of the shootings "may be to copycat behavior stimulated by
tremendous media publicity" (p. 706).
The CDC (2010b), working with the U.S. Department of Justice and Department
of Education, gathered statistics that indicated between July 1992 and June 2006,
homicides among school-age children did decrease from 0.07 per 100,000 to 0.03 per
100,000 students but that between July 1999 and June 2006, homicide levels among
school-age children remained stable. Findings by the CDC (2008) regarding violent
deaths at schools suggested the rates were higher for males in secondary schools and in
central city areas. There were 116 students who were killed in 109 incidents between
1992 and 2006 (or at least 16.5 homicides that involved a student for each year reported).
Most of these violent deaths occurred at the start of a semester, during transitional times
such as lunchtime, or before and after the school day. Almost 50% of those who
committed the crime often gave warning signals to their victims by writing a note or
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (CDC, 2010b), which is administered by the
CDC and conducted by CDC and state and local education and health agencies, was
completed by students in Grades 9 to 12 in 2009. In the report of the results, the CDC
compared health-risk behaviors in 1991 or 1993 (depending on when the questions were
first asked) and 2009. Instances of most at-risk behaviors were reduced in 2009 when
compared to 1991 or 1993. In 2009, 5.6% of students indicated having various types of
weapons such as a gun, knife, or club at school the 12 months before the survey; this was
a reduction from 11.8% in 1991. There were 11.1% of students who were involved in
physical fighting the 12 months before the survey and 16.2% in 1991. In 2009, 25.4% of
students were offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school grounds. This was fewer
than in 1993 when 24.0% of students reported being offered an illegal drug on school
grounds. The percentage of students who attempted suicide the year before the survey
was completed was 6.3%. This was a reduction from 1991 (7.3%) and the peak in 2001
(during the 12 months before the survey). After examining a variety of data related to
school safety, Mayer and Furlong (2010) concluded the data indicated that although
schools are safer than they were at the turn of the century, violence, bullying,
intimidation, and anything that can harm students are issues that concern school
Although the current study was not directly focused on school shootings and other
acts of extreme violence, the data did suggest that the creation of an environment of
school order and safety is necessary. The CDC (2010a) maintained that school safety
features should be promoted and enacted to ensure that all within the learning community
can be safe and learning can take place. A strong discipline program where the learning
community fully participates in addressing and using strategies to help curb misbehaviors
is required to reduce the effects of an unsafe school climate. Skiba and Peterson (2000)
concluded, "The key importance of school discipline in preventing school violence has
been highlighted by data demonstrating the relationship between day-to-day school
disciplinary disruptions and more serious violence" (p. 336).
Consequences of Student Misbehavior
The Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS, 2004) stated
the purpose of schools is to ensure that students achieve academic, social, and lifestyle
skills and competencies. Unfortunately, the problem behaviors of students often make it
difficult for educators to achieve this goal. The Center on PBIS offered these reasons to
explain why educators are challenged to cope with disorder in schools:
1. "Students are more different from each other than similar."
2. "Multiple initiatives compete and overlap."
3. "School climates are reactive and controlling."
4. "School organizational structures and processes are inefficient and ineffective."
5. "Public demand is high for greater academic accountability and achievement."
6. "Occurrences of antisocial behavior in school (e.g., aggression, substance use,
dropping out, attendance, and insubordination/noncompliance) are more severe
7. "Limited capacity exists to educate students with disabilities."
8. "Media that portrays role models are violent and antisocial." (pp. 7-8)
Moreover, Rathvon (2008) suggested that educators are witnessing a growth in
the number of students with behavioral or academic challenges due to the growing
heterogeneity of classrooms, which include students with a variety of "achievement
levels, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and disability status,
including an increasing number of students from families living below the poverty level
and/or from homes in which English is not the primary language" (pp. 3-4). In addition,
Crosnoe, Johnson, and Elder (2004) reported an increasing number of students are
entering school without the behavioral, academic, and social skills required in the school
environment. In addition, educators are coping with stronger testing and accountability
All of this means teachers have many tasks to complete and coping with the
behavior problems of students has complicated their roles of being educators (Kelly,
2009). Kelly (2009) suggested that coping with student misbehavior makes it difficult for
teachers to complete these categories of tasks performed by teachers: planning
instruction; record keeping; instructing students; assessing learning; and professional
activities, such as attending professional development sessions or participating in student
extracurricular activities. Teachers' primary goal is to educate their students but the focus
on maintaining discipline has become a worrisome task to overcome in order for learning
to be accomplished. Teachers have also been subjected to threats and violence in schools.
Robers et al. (2010) reported that in the 2003-2004 school year, 7% of teachers were
threatened with injury by students from their school. This number was less than in the
1993-1994 school year when the percentage was 12%. However, in the 2003-2004 school
year, 10% of teachers working in urban area schools were threatened by students. In
suburban area schools, 6% of teachers reported being threatened as did 5% of teachers
working in towns and rural area schools.
Student misbehavior, whether it is violent or low level, negatively affects
teachers. In a study of 100 British primary school teachers, Hastings and Bham (2003)
explored the relationship between student behavior patterns and teacher burnout.
Teachers completed a rating scale to gauge the behavior of their students and a
questionnaire to measure their attitudes to their work environment. The results of
Hastings and Bham's analysis indicated student behavior did affect teacher burnout.
Matheny, Gfroerer, and Harris (2000) indicated a teacher who is suffering from burnout
suffers a loss of self-esteem and enthusiasm for teaching.
When students are engaged in antisocial behaviors, the learning climate of the
classroom is negatively affected and students miss learning opportunities. Nishina,
Juvonen, and Witkow's (2005) reports of 1,526 Grade 6 students indicated that students
who reported they were victimized by other students in the fall also reported they had
physical symptoms and psychosocial adjustment problems in the spring. The authors also
found that students with psychosocial problems were more likely to be victimized. In a
study of 368 students, Stearns, Dodge, and Nicholson (2008) found students were more
likely to exhibit misbehaviors related to authority acceptance after being exposed to
disorderly behavior in the classroom.
Whitted and Dupper (2005) supported the findings of Nishina et al. (2005) and
indicated that bullying, in particular, can create a climate of fear in a school. For
example, Rivers, Poteat, Noret, and Ashurst (2009) examined how 2,002 students, aged
12- to 16-year-olds, who witnessed bullying experienced risks to mental health such as
anxiety and depression, to a greater extent than participants in bullying incidents. In
another examination that involved 199 elementary schoolchildren, Schwartz, Gorman,
Nakamoto, and Toblin (2005) found that students who were victimized by other students
experienced reduced academic achievement. Schwartz et al. suggested a longer review
may help to determine the longevity of the negative consequences. Nakamoto and
Schwartz (2010) followed this thought with a meta-analysis of 33 reports (29,552
participants) related to students victimized by peers. The results indicated there was a
significant, although small, negative correlation between the two factors.
The perpetrators of aggressive actions also experience negative consequences for
their behavior. Walter, Lambie, and Ngazimbi (2008)
reported that students who are
often disciplined for antisocial behavior are at risk for later problems with misbehavior
and social relationships. In a recent report of 714 African American and European
American students, Dishion, Nelson, and Yasui (2005) found that students who in Grade
6 had behavior and academic problems and were rejected by other students were also
likely to be involved in gangs in Grade 8.
Henry (2000) reported that students who commit the most misbehavior within the
learning community tend to be the students who are failing, lack motivation to learn, and
who often feel alienated. Misbehaviors may even be attributable to the students' own
personal challenges: race, gender, grade level, family economic situation or level, and
limited-English proficiency (Gregory, Skiba, & Noguera, 2010). The Olweus Bullying
Prevention Program (Hazelden Foundation, 2013) stated that students who bully others
are more inclined than other students to participate in fights, possess a weapon, vandalize
property, and be academically unsuccessful at school. Smokowski and Kopasz (2005)
reported that findings indicated middle-school-aged boys who were bullies were more
likely than other students to have a criminal record by the age of 30.
The next section describes the effectiveness of zero tolerance policy, a response to
concerns about student misbehavior, and school safety that has been adopted by some
schools. The policy is based on the assumption that if students who contribute to disorder
in schools are expelled, other students will be deterred from this behavior and a safe place
to learn will be ensured (Skiba, 2010).
Zero Tolerance Policy
Sugai and Horner (2008) asserted that when educators are faced with recurring
and seemingly ineradicable problem behaviors causing disorder in schools, they often
implement reactive strong punishments. The creation of zero tolerance policies was such
a response in the early 1990s to violent acts that occurred in schools. Cornell and Mayer
(2010) stated the policy, which was intended to ban drugs and guns from schools, was
enlarged to encompass more minor misdemeanors. According to Skiba (2008), the
American Psychological Association (APA) Zero Tolerance Task Force indicated that a
zero tolerance policy "mandates the application of predetermined consequences, most
often severe and punitive in nature, that are intended to be applied regardless of the
gravity of behavior, mitigating circumstances, or situational context" (p. 852). The policy
is intended to expel students who violate school rules in order to improve the learning
conditions for the majority of students.
The APA Zero Tolerance Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of the
literature to determine the effectiveness of the zero tolerance policy in ensuring that
educators are better able to cope with behavior infractions and create safe schools (Skiba,
2008). The task force found no evidence that discipline issues are dealt with more
consistently or that the school climate has improved. In fact, Raffaele-Mendez (2003) and
Skiba and Rausch (2006) found that overall academic achievement of students was
negatively impacted by a large number of suspensions and expulsions in a school. In
addition, students who are suspended are likely to exhibit increased incidents of
misbehavior and resulting suspensions (Raffaele-Mendez, 2003).
The APA Zero Tolerance Task Force recommended that zero tolerance policies
be reserved only for the most serious infractions related to violent assaults or threats of
assaults, weapons, and drugs with recommended reforms to the policy (Skiba, 2008). A
primary recommendation was that all disciplinary programs be rigorously evaluated to
determine if they benefit students. Peterson and Schoonover (2008) suggested school
administrators cease using the term zero tolerance because it has the connotation of being
an unyielding approach that ignores the conditions of the situation. The APA Zero
Tolerance Task Force recommended, with regard to alternatives to the use of zero
tolerance policies, that schools (a) find ways to improve school climate and student
engagement (especially for students who have been suspended or expelled), (b) develop
threat assessment strategies, and (c) plan a variety of options for students involved in
serious disruption of the learning setting.
Because of the negative social, emotional, and academic consequences of a lack
of discipline in schools, it is essential that all members of the school community
cooperate to create a healthy school climate (National School Climate Center, 2011). The
National School Climate Center (2011) indicated the National School Climate Council,
that is led by the National School Climate Center (and the Education Commission of the
States), developed this definition of a positive school climate: "A sustainable, positive
school climate fosters youth development and learning necessary for a productive,
contributing and satisfying life in a democratic society" (How Do We Define School
Climate? section, para. 2). The National School Climate Center said the National School
Climate Council also indicated that a positive climate has these features:
1. Norms, values and expectations that support people feeling socially,
emotionally and physically safe.
2. People are engaged and respected.
3. Students, families and educators work together to develop, live and contribute
to a shared school vision.
4. Educators model and nurture attitudes that emphasize the benefits and
satisfaction gained from learning.
5. Each person contributes to the operations of the school and the care of the
physical environment. (How Do We Define School Climate? section, para. 3)
Developing Effective Discipline Programs
Foley (2007) argued that most teachers would rather be teaching students than
disciplining them; however, creating rules and regulations is a task that most teachers
know is essential in establishing an environment conducive to learning. McLeod, Fisher,
and Hoover (2003) agreed and stated, "Discipline in the 21st century should be
proactive--focused on preventing conflicts and disruptions rather than on punishing
misbehavior. We need to teach students responsibility, self-management, problem
solving, and decision-making" (p. 61). According to McLeod et al., the focus is on the
teacher and establishing a positive, working environment for the students rather than one
of fear and intimidation. When students perceive that a teacher has a problem with
classroom management, they may criticize and prejudge the teacher, which usually
results in the teacher having less control and ultimately less respect. McLeod et al.
suggested, "The teacher's job is not to control, but to teach; not to command, but to
influence" (p. 61).
Boynton and Boynton (2005) agreed discipline systems that are most effective use
proactive strategies and suggested the four essential components of such a system are
"positive teacher-student relations, clearly defined parameters of acceptable student
behaviors, monitoring skills, and consequences" (p. 3). This may be achieved with some
type of social contract that outlines explicit behavioral expectations and consequences.
Tauber (2007) suggested that parameters of acceptable student behaviors may be
developed if students and teachers create a social contract that outlines explicit behavioral
expectations and consequences. McLeod et al. (2003) reinforced this idea of creating a
working environment for students and teachers by stating that structure, which includes
procedures, standards, and rules, is needed whenever more than two people meet for a
purpose. Furthermore, they maintained it is more effective to teach students techniques
that will help them with productive behaviors rather than to rely on rules.
Foley (2007) suggested that students can be given the choice of following the
expectations for behavior or of choosing the consequences. This method may be
problematic for some educators who believe that allowing students a choice in their
consequences for misbehavior may give them an unrealistic perception of who is in
charge. However, giving students a choice of consequences gives them an opportunity to
think about their behavior. McLeod et al. (2003) stated the importance of a teacher being
able to express and receive verbal communications in a way that will increase the
likelihood of students making appropriate behavior choices. The focus of the
interrelationships within the learning community should be on the students. Contributing
factors that can determine the climate within the classroom environment are how students
perceive themselves and how they relate to their peers.
The Center on PBIS (2004) argued that educators need to move to a positive and
preventive discipline plan by taking these actions:
1. "Work for and with all students, since every child entering school needs
2. "Give priority to empirically validated procedures and systems that have
demonstrated effectiveness, efficiency, and relevance."
3. "Integrate academic and behavioral success for all students."
4. "Emphasize prevention in establishing and maintaining safe and supportive
5. "Expand the use of effective practices and systems to district, county,
regional, and state levels."
6. "Increase collaboration among multiple community support systems (i.e.,
education, juvenile justice, community mental health, family, and medical)."
7. "Build a school environment where team building and problem solving skills
are expected, taught, and reinforced." (p. 9)
Bear (2011) agreed that a preventative and positive discipline plan is necessary
and suggested that a framework of positive psychology provides guidelines regarding
how to achieve the dual purposes of discipline: to direct the behavior of students, a short-
term goal, and to aid in the growth of their self-discipline, a long-term goal. This can be
achieved, according to Bear, by emphasizing capabilities related to responsibility and
self-determination as well as virtues and character traits such as kindness and social and
emotional intelligence. The plan to enhance self-discipline must include provisions for
meeting the students' needs for autonomy, belongingness, and competence. The next
section describes discipline approaches that meet the criteria outlined by Bear.
Approaches to Encouraging Appropriate Student Behavior
Osher et al. (2010) suggested there are three promising approaches to encouraging
appropriate student behavior in order to have a safe school with a positive climate. These
are the ecological approach, school-wide PBIS (SWPBIS), and social emotional learning
(SEL). Literature related to these approaches will be presented in this section.
Ecological approach. This approach is classroom based and focuses on
classroom management techniques to engage the students in classroom activities.
Ecologists believe that the classroom environment has an important influence on the
learning that takes place (Doyle, 2006). Osher et al. (2010) stated the ecological approach
is based on the belief that participation in classroom events are well-organized that
encourages students to exercise self-discipline when they see the benefits of working
cooperatively. Furthermore, Osher et al. said there should be prominence given to
"cooperation, engagement, and motivation" rather than "compliance, control, and
coercion" (p. 49).
Teachers are an essential component in a learning community and play a primary
role in meeting the learning needs of their students. The classroom environment is the
main arena of the teacher. Marzano, Marzano, and Pickering (2003) reported findings
indicated the most influential variable affecting student achievement is the teacher.
Experienced teachers should have the advantage of becoming more effective educators
over their years of experience within their profession but newly graduated teachers bring
innovative ideas and strategies. Whether experienced or novices, all share the universal
objective of having all their students succeed. Moreover, teachers would like to have
classroom environments where students' learning is not interrupted by behavioral
According to Marzano et al. (2003), the effective teacher not only makes
decisions about teaching strategies and curriculum but also about effective classroom
management techniques. The authors suggested that each of these areas is essential.
Marzano et al. completed a meta-analysis of more than 100 case reports related to
classroom management and calculated the following effect sizes for the various aspects
of managing a classroom: rules and procedures (-.763), disciplinary interventions (-.909),
teacher-student relationships (-.869), and mental set (awareness and objectivity) of the
teacher (-1.294). The effect size indicated the decrease in the classroom disruptions when
these elements were in place. As shown, all of these factors reduced the misbehavior
affecting learning in the classroom.
Marzano et al. (2003) suggested the effective teacher has to establish ground rules
and procedures at the very beginning of the school year so that expectations for students
are clearly understood. These rules and procedures vary for different grade levels and
some findings suggested the students should participate in their development (Marzano et
al., 2003). When it comes to disciplining students, teachers have to use a variety of
strategies to eliminate classroom disruptions. Teachers should know their students well in
order to be effective in using tactics that suit the student. A more effective teacher is one
who communicates well with the students, especially the disruptive students.
Despite the variations of interventions for treating misbehaviors, the most
important relationship is between the student and teacher. The perceptions that students
have towards their teachers play a vital role in the outcomes of discipline. Marzano et al.
(2003) suggested that student misbehaviors can be greatly reduced if there is a good
rapport between the teacher and students. The authors' meta-analysis of the case report
indicated the effect size for positive teacher-student relationships in middle school was
-2.891, which was very high. McLeod et al. (2003) agreed that student and teacher
relationships are significant and stated the importance of a teacher being able to express
and receive verbal communications in a way that will increase the likelihood of students
making appropriate behavior choices. In fact, McLeod et al. suggested the focus of the
interrelationships within the learning community should be on the students and the
teachers should facilitate positive relationships. It is important to note how students
perceive themselves and how they relate to their peers are contributing factors that can
determine the climate within the classroom environment (McLeod et al., 2003).
According to Barnwell (2009), a middle school teacher, teachers should promote
students' social skills development by regularly providing students with times when they
can have positive learning interactions with other students and by working
collaboratively with other teachers to model the positive benefits of joint projects.
Barnwell believed the teacher should use team-building and communications activities to
make the classroom experience interesting as well as enhance learning opportunities for
Marzano et al. (2003) also found the teacher's mental set is important in reducing
behavior disruptions. Mental set was described by Marzano et al. as being related to
Langer's concept of mindfulness, "a heightened sense of situational awareness and a
conscious control over one's thoughts and behavior relative" (p. 65) and Kounin's
withitness, "the disposition of the teacher to quickly and accurately identify problem
behavior or potential problem behavior and to act on it immediately" (p. 67). Also, an
important aspect of a teacher's mental set is the ability of the teacher to remain
emotionality objective, which involves not viewing student's negative behavior as a
Monroe (2009), who focused on the urban middle school student, suggested some
teachers may unfairly discipline or prejudge students based on race and thus these
students are subjected to greater inconsistency in behavior sanctions. Teachers should be
prepared to be fair and consistent to all students to be effective. The members of the
learning community can play an important role in providing mentors or support systems
for teachers to help them be more effective instructors and lead their classroom
environments in a fair and safe manner. In addition, an outreach system to keep parents
aware of or involved in school activities is important to the learning community.
Although effective classroom management is essential to student learning, Osher
et al. (2010) purported it may not be sufficient when students refuse to participate
cooperatively. In these situations, school-wide approaches to student behavior are
SWPBIS. SWPBIS is based on teacher-centered plans focused on managing the
behavior of students by using positive reinforcements and consequences (Osher et al.,
2010). This approach is also known as school-wide positive behavioral supports
(SWPBS), positive behavioral supports (PBS), and PBIS. For the purpose of this
literature review, the terms are used interchangeably depending on the use in the study
being cited. The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of
Education (2010a), established The Technical Assistance Center on PBIS to provide
educators with information to help them find and implement effective school-wide
disciplinary practices. According to the OSEP, U.S. Department of Education (2010b),
SWPBIS is a "decision making framework that guides selection, integration, and
implementation of the best evidence-based academic and behavioral practices for
improving important academic and behavior outcomes for all students" (para. 1).
Simonsen et al. (2008) suggested that by implementing SWPBS most learning
communities can achieve positive student behaviors and outcomes. Schools where
learning is interrupted by the anti-social behavior of students can implement a SWPBS
approach that will help reduce the number of infractions yet encourage learning to take
place but 80% of the faculty and staff must support the intervention (Simonsen et al.,