Evaluating discipline programs

Currently popular discipline models have not been tested thoroughly enough to enable schools to make informed choices, state J. Goldberg and Lorraine Wilgosh of the Department of Educational Psychology, University of Alberta.

Educators, they suggest, ought to have a way to evaluate the effectiveness of such programs themselves. To this end, these researchers, with the help of teachers, developed a list of standards they felt would be useful for evaluating classroom discipline programs.

Goldberg and Wilgosh subsequently took this list to an independent group of teachers in order to determine whether these standards accurately reflected what teachers believe should be included in an effective discipline model. Their survey of these teachers revealed that, in general, there is agreement among teachers on the subject of discipline. Furthermore, these proposed standards were in accordance with this consensus.

Improving effectiveness of teachers as classroom managers

Teachers asserted that a discipline program should promote an orderly classroom by improving the effectiveness of teachers as classroom managers, and by facilitating an increase in on-task time of students. Of primary importance to them, as well, was increasing the social skills of students, encouraging positive self-concepts and fostering genuine involvement in learning.

They indicated a need for a program that is clear and understandable, time efficient to maintain, workable within the limits of their current resources, and which allows for creativity and innovation.

Goldberg and Wilgosh believe that the following list of standards can provide an important alternative to uncritical acceptance of the claims made by workshop organizers or writers of discipline programs. They propose that a discipline program should:

1. Describe discipline and management strategies in an instructional and curricular context where methods for promoting on-task behavior are the primary focus.

2. Emphasize the critical importance of a positive pupil-teacher relationship. It should promote a democratic as opposed to a power-oriented manipulative approach on the assumption that the former enhances relationships more than does the latter.

3. Promote meeting students’ academic, psychological and social needs. It should provide for motivating pupils in positive ways.

4. Meet the teacher’s professional needs.

5. Be general; applicable to different classrooms, groups and individuals.

6. Match the philosophy of the school and the parents.

7. Include research as to its effectiveness.

8. Provide for controlling deviant behavior by establishing rules and imposing negative consequences for infractions.

9. Require no special facilities or resources for its implementation.

10. Provide for the use of a wide range of methods from counseling to behavior modification.

 

“Comparing and Evaluating Classroom Discipline Models” Education Canada Summer 1990, pp. 36-42.

Published in ERN November/December 1990 Volume 3 Number 5

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