When a student violates one of the clearly defined rules the adult will "apply consequences consistently and in a warm, assertive, firm voice using four steps: State the behavior, state the violated rule, state the unified consequence, and offer encouragement to prevent future violations " (Algozzine, et. al., 2001). The Unified Discipline approach focuses on negative consequence, but forgets one important step of the learning process. Positive reinforcement for good behaviors must be included in the theoretical models as well as punishers for negative behaviors. This is one of the key shortcomings of the Unified Discipline approach.
With the Unified Discipline approach and the EBS approach, the student has no choice or input into the desired behaviors or the outcomes. They are subject to rules that are forced upon them from their external environment. They may oppose the rules themselves and may not be motivated to follow the rules as they stand. These disciplinary approaches do not take into consideration the individuality of the student. A majority of the school wide disciplinary approaches found in the literature review fell into this category.
Office Discipline Referrals is another form of school wide discipline that is being used in many school systems. This theory is based on a three-tiered approach based on the idea that in any school, three types of children can be identified: (a) typical children not at risk for problems (primary prevention), (b) children at risk (i.e., evidence one or more risk factors) for developing maladaptive behavior patterns (secondary prevention), and - children who show signs of life course-persistent maladaptive behavior patterns (tertiary prevention)" (Benner, 2002).
Office referrals serve as a means to identify and classify the types of interventions needed by each of these three risk categories.
Suspensions and detentions are a common form of discipline in many urban schools. These punishments are assumed to be an undesirable consequence for behavior. However, in certain populations, such as urban and low-income schools, suspensions and detentions were found to be a positive reinforcer rather than a punishment. If the child did not like to go to school, then they would be more likely to misbehave so that they did not have to attend (Arvantis, et. al., 2002; Anthony, et. al., 2001).
It is generally agreed that school wide support is needed to develop an effective disciplinary system that curbs undesirable behaviors and enhances a positive learning environment. Some school districts are taking the school wide approach to the district level (Lehmann, et. al., 2000). The High Five Program incorporates strategies that are associated with positive behavioral interventions and supports (Kartub and Taylor-Greene, 2000). This program involves the implementation of five cardinal rules, with the theory that these behaviors are the root of other behavioral problems. "The High Fives are: be respectful, be responsible, follow directions, keep hands and feet to self, and be there - be ready" (Kartub and Taylor-Greene, 2000). The key criticism of this program is that these principles are vague and children may not know exactly what to do.
In an evaluation of five different strategies used by teachers to maintain order, it was found that many of the strategies are ineffective (Traynor, 2002). The five strategies were labeled as coercive, task oriented, laissez-faire, authoritative, and intrinsic. "control is the major issue and always at the center of the student-teacher relations. Orderly behavior can never be expected; it is always problematic and always requires attention" (Cusick, 1992 in Traynor, 2002). Of the strategies discussed, the coercive strategy was found to be the least effective and most damaging to student-teacher relations. Students saw the adult as having a lack of self-control and therefore lost respect for them (Traynor, 2002).
The Laissez-faire strategy involved "non-teaching" as a means to control the class. It appears to avoid evoking misbehavior, but also fails in challenging students to grow intellectually (Traynor, 2002). The task-oriented strategy involves giving students "busy work" so that they do not have time to misbehave. This strategy is ineffective and has been found to harm the choice of class materials as they may be chosen for their ability to keep students busy rather then for their instructional content (Traynor, 2002). The authoritative strategy relies on consistent enforcement of a set of established classroom rules. This strategy is consistent and supportive. The final strategy is the intrinsic strategy. This strategy involves the student in deciding for him or herself that they wish to behave in a way that is conducive to good classroom behavior (Traynor, 2002). This is the strategy upon which the Love and Logic Program is based.
Both quantitative and qualitative research methods are useful in various research settings. Quantitative methods were developed from the physical sciences to ensure objectivity, reliability and the ability to generalize the results of the larger sample population. These techniques require that the participants are selected in an unbiased manner from a random sample population. However, some research questions are difficult to analyze using quantitative methods. It is also believed that quantitative methods remove the problem from its real-world setting or that the question is taken out of context. It ignores the effects of variables that are found in the real world which might affect the outcomes. For these reasons qualitative research methods often yield more meaningful results under certain research circumstances.
This research study combined quantitative and qualitative methods in order to gain a more thorough understanding of the methods employed by teachers to maintain classroom order. The sample population consisted of a group of teachers and administrators from across the United States who were contacted and asked to participate in an online survey regarding disciplinary issues. They were from a wide range of backgrounds, educational levels, and experience levels. They were administered the questionnaire and divided into two groups according to their answers as to the disciplinary method used in their school.
Discipline that Establishes and Fosters Positive Relationships
The results of the study indicated that those that used the Love and Logic program had a significant decrease in disciplinary problems in the first year than those that used other disciplinary measures. Other than in the schools that used Love and Logic, there was little knowledge about it or the methods that it employed. An overwhelming number of schools were found to use coercive methods as a means of punishment. In schools that switched from another method other than Love and Logic to this program reported decreased disciplinary problems and improved classroom performance after implementation of the program.
There may be factors present in the sample population that may affect the ability to draw meaningful conclusions that were not considered in the design of this program. However, when one compares the two groups, it appears that the schools that use the Love and Logic program not only decreased the severity and frequency of disciplinary problems, but also increased the quality of student/teacher relationships. Students saw their teachers more as partners and were motivated towards higher academic achievement as well.
In conclusion, the Love and Logic program has many benefits in the relationships that it builds. Love and Logic represents positive steps that lead to long-term solutions, rather than short-term interventions. The literature review revealed that discipline systems that focus on punishing for negative behaviours are inadequate due to their lack of reinforcement for positive behaviours. Reinforcing desirable behaviours is one of the most important factors in the ability to motivate students both academically and behaviourally.
Algozzine, B., Audette, R., Ellis, E., Marr, M., and White, R. (2001) Unified Discipline: A School-Wide Approach for Managing Problem Behavior. Intervention in School & Clinic. 37 (1): 3.
Anthone, S., Dillon, C., Morrison, G., and Storino, M. (2001). An Examination of the Disciplinary Histories and the Individual and Educational Characteristics of Students Who Participate in an In-School Suspension Program. Education & Treatment of Children. 24 (3): 276.
Arvantis, P., Atkins, M., Brown, C., Cunningham, T., Frazier, S., Jakobsons, L., Lambrecht, L., and McKay, M. (2002). Suspensions and Detentions in an Urban, Low-Income School: Punishment or Reward? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 30 (4): 361.
Benner, G., Currin, D., Epstein, M., Nelson, R., and Reid, R. (2002). The Convergent Validity of Office Discipline Referrals with the CBCL-TRF. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. 10 (3): 181.
Fay, J. 1996. What is Love and Logic? Love and Logic Institute Retrieved August 29, at http://www.loveandlogic.com/Pages/0100about.html.
Fields, B. (2000). School Discipline: Is There a Crisis in Our Schools? Australian Journal of Social Issues. 35 (1): 73.
Golly, A., Myers, D., Shannon, T., Currin, D., and Epstein, M. (2001). Translating Research into Effective Practice: The Effects of a Universal Staff and Student Intervention on Indicators of Discipline and School Safety. Education & Treatment of Children. 24 (4): 495.
Lehmann, J., Nersesian, M., Todd, A., and Watson,…