Schools Research

Conflict Resolution

Bickmore, Kathy. Elementary School Conflict Resolution Initiative Evaluation Research on Peer Mediation Training and Program Implementation. Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution & Conflict Management. 2001
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The results of this evaluation research project affirm that peer mediation, following the CMSD Center for Conflict Resolution training and program model, can improve elementary students’ capacity and inclination to handle conflict nonviolently, their relationships with peers, and their attachment to school. Furthermore, this program can reduce suspensions from school for violent activity and increase achievement in reading and citizenship. This study also analyzed the roles, responsibilities, and principles associated with effective program implementation and sustainability at the school level. CCR’s training and program model is sound and workable and its training and program-advisory staff have done good work with limited funding. At the same time, good training is not enough: school-based program development, and support to build equitable programs that can grow and last over time, will require strengthened commitment and clarity of purpose.

Deutsch, Morton. The Effects of Training in Cooperative Learning and Conflict Resolution in an Alternative High School. 1992. International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, Box 53, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027.
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This paper consists of 13 chapters that describe a study of the effects of training in conflict resolution and cooperative learning in an alternative high school in New York City. Three of the school’s four campuses participated, with Campus A receiving conflict resolution training, Campus C receiving cooperative and Campus B receiving training in both. For 2 years, staff training occurred at all three campuses in the form of after-school workshops. The student training in cooperative learning involved five principles: (1) positive interdependence; (2) fact-to-face interactions; (3) individual accountability; (4) interpersonal and small group skills; and (5) processing (analysis of group functioning with the goal of improvement). The conflict resolution training taught active listening, “I” messages, reframing the issues in conflict, criticizing ideas and not people, differentiating between underlying needs versus positions, distinguishing between negotiable and non-negotiable conflict situations, developing “win-win” solutions, and destructive and constructive negotiation styles. Data were collected with questionnaires to 350 students before and after training, performance ratings of students, teacher behavior evaluations, and supplemental interviews. The results indicate positive effects on the students. As students improved in managing conflicts they experienced increased social support, improved relations, higher self-esteem, increases in personal control, and higher academic performance. Included are 107 tables, 14 figures, and references and appendixes at the end of each chapter.

Johnson, David W.; Johnson, Roger T. Teaching Students To Be Peacemakers: A Meta-Analysis. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. 2001.
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Concern about violence in schools has resulted in numerous conflict resolution and peer mediation programs being implemented, though there is very little research examining their effectiveness. The exception is the Teaching Students to be Peacemakers program, which teaches students to be peacemakers in five steps: learning what is and what is not a conflict; negotiating integrative agreements to conflicts; mediating classmates’ conflicts; implementing the program; and receiving ongoing training. Between 1988-00, the paper’s authors conducted 17 studies on the effectiveness of conflict resolution training in eight different schools in two countries. Participating students ranged from kindergarten through ninth grade and attended rural, suburban, and urban schools. Data collection involved observations, interviews, conflict report forms, written and oral responses to conflict scenarios, role playing responses to conflict scenarios, and actual conflicts created with classmates. Results indicated that students learned the conflict resolution procedures taught, retained their knowledge throughout the school year, applied the conflict resolution procedures to actual conflicts, transferred the procedures to nonclassroom and nonschool settings, used the procedures similarly in family and school settings, and, when given the option, engaged in problem solving rather than win-lose negotiations. Appended are 2 tables and 17 Peacemaker Studies References.

Stevahn, Laurie; Johnson, David W.; Johnson, Roger T.; Green, Kathy; Laginski, Anne Marie; Effects on High School Students of Conflict Resolution Training Integrated into English Literature. Journal of Social Psychology. v137 n3 p302-15 Jun 1997.

Examines the effectiveness of a conflict-resolution program in raising the academic achievement of a suburban Canadian high school English class. Argues that the conflict-resolution training raised academic performance at the same time that it taught conflict-resolution techniques. Suggests incorporating conflict-resolution training into core high school courses.

Parent Involvement

Aten, A., Mueller, D., New, D., & Peschang, T. Parent Involvement: Improving School Climate and Strengthening Relationships Among the Parent Community. Action Research Project, Saint Xavier University and IRI/Skylight Field-Based Masters Program. Dissertation/Thesis. 1998
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This action research project involved the implementation and evaluation of a program for increased parental involvement at an elementary school in western Illinois. Evidence for the lack of parental involvement included declining membership in the Parent-Teacher Organization, elimination of the computer lab, limited library hours due to lack of volunteers, elimination of the spring school carnival, and a lack of parental attendance at various classroom functions and field trips. Analysis of probable cause data revealed a large number of working parents and a changed household structure, along with a lack of trust and respect for faculty, partially due to a 1992 teacher strike compounded by difficult contract negotiations in 1996. A review of solution strategies, combined with an analysis of the problem setting, resulted in the selection of three major categories of intervention: communicating, volunteering, and learning. Activities implemented to increase parent involvement included: the Parent Involvement Pledge, student homework and reading pacts, Family Reading Night, Family Math Night, a district-wide Parent University Night, and Volunteer Appreciation and Recognition Night. Assessment methods indicated that these activities improved the school climate and strengthened relationships within the parent community. (Appendices present activity materials, including surveys, cover letters, articles, newsletters and calendars.

Epstein, Joyce L. School/Family/Community Partnerships: Caring for the Children We Share. Phi Delta Kappan 76, No. 9 (May 1995): 701-712.

The author highlights the importance of designing integrated, coordinated social contexts in which children can develop. She summarizes the results of many studies and the work of educators and families in elementary, middle, and high schools and describes how schools can develop more positive school/family/community connections.

Henderson, Anne T. The Evidence Continues to Grow: Parent Involvement Improves Student Achievement. An Annotated Bibliography. National Committee for Citizens in Education Special Report. National Committee for Citizens in Education, Columbia, MD. 1987

This annotated bibliography cites 49 studies of effects of parent involvement on children’s academic achievement and the performance of schools. The research tends to treat three broad approaches to parent involvement, namely those that attempt to: (1) improve the parent-child relationship in the context of the family; (2) integrate parents into school programs; and (3) build a strong relationship between school, family, and the larger community. In regard to the first approach, it is noted that the bulk of the research finds that a positive learning environment at home has a powerful impact on student achievement. The second approach is illustrated by Rhoda Becher’s extensive review of parent education literature, which finds numerous studies documenting effects of school-based programs that train low-income parents to work with their children. Effects include significantly improved language skills, test performance, and school behavior, as well as important effects on the general educational process. The third approach is illustrated by studies of community involvement which suggest that the degree of parent and community interest in high quality education is the critical factor in the impact of the school environment on the achievement and educational aspirations of students. Directions for future research are indicated.

Henderson, Anne T., Ed.; Berla, Nancy, Ed.; A New Generation of Evidence: The Family is Critical to Student Achievement. National Committee for Citizens in Education, Washington, DC. 1994
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This report covers 66 studies, reviews, reports, analyses, and books. Of these 39 are new; 27 have been carried over from previous editions. An ERIC search was conducted to identify relevant studies. Noting that the most accurate predictor of student achievement is the extent to which the family is involved in his or her education, this report presents a collection of research papers on the function and importance of family to a student’s achievement and education in school and the community. The research is divided into two categories: (1) studies on programs and interventions from early childhood through high school, including school policy; and (2) studies on family processes. The first category presents studies that evaluate or assess the effects of programs and other interventions, including early childhood and preschool programs and home visits for families with infants and toddlers, programs to help elementary and middle schools work more closely with families, and high school programs and community efforts to support families in providing wider opportunities for young people. The second category presents studies on the way that families behave and interact with their children, including the relationship between parent involvement and student achievement from the family perspective, characteristics of families as learning environments and their effects on student performance, and class and cultural mismatch. Two pages are devoted to each study. Each study is summarized; key elements of the program and important findings are presented. Major findings indicate that the family makes critical contributions to student achievement from the earliest childhood years through high school, and efforts to improve children’s outcomes are much more effective when the family is actively involved.

Patrikakou, E. N., Weissberg, R. P., Redding , S., & Walberg, H. J. (2005) School-family partnerships: Enhancing the academic, social, and emotional learning of children. In E. N. Patrikakou, R. P. Weissberg, S. Redding, & H. J. Walberg (Eds.), School-family partnerships for children’s success (pp. 1-17) New York : Teachers College Press.

Williamson, Ronald; McElrath, Michael Reshaping Middle School: Engaging Parents and Community in the Work. 2003
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This paper reports on a school district’s efforts to work collaboratively with parents, teachers, principals, and community representatives as they confronted concerns about their middle-level program. It recommends strategies for strengthening and refining a program that was undergoing severe strains as the district gathered data about program satisfaction. The groups worked to refine the program, and they tackled the divisive issues at the center of the debate. As part of the solution, the district developed a collaborative relationship with a regional university, and from this partnership several plans emerged for resolving differences among group members. The successful strategies incorporated multiple approaches to address the underlying issues creating the tensions, leading to durable solutions. The depth of the concerns and the many strongly held beliefs surrounding the middle-level program often led to frustration and the lack of quick solutions. While the approaches identified in this study required a high level of commitment from all parties, they resulted in strong and viable relationships, which in turn contributed to long-term success at resolving differences among groups, as well as building shared resolve to strengthen the middle-level program.


School Climate and Community

D’Agostino, Jerome V. Instructional and School Effects on Students’ Longitudinal Reading and Mathematics Achievements. School Effectiveness and School Improvement .Volume 11, Number 2 / June 2000 pp. 197-235.

For this study, Prospects, a data set on schools and students in the United States collected during the early 1990s, was used to examine the effects of instructional and school organizational characteristics on the longitudinal mathematics and reading achievements of students from either a first- or third-grade cohort. Three schooling models were tested using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) while controlling for parental socioeconomic (SES) status. Factors and variables that represented instructional and school features were derived from teacher and principal responses to survey items. These features had direct and interactive effects on mathematics achievement, supporting both an environmental and interactive model of schooling. Further, schools characterized by teacher collegiality, support for innovation, principal leadership, goal agreement, and community support contained teachers who employed important instructional strategies more effectively, and students who had the highest mathematics gains over the observed period.

Edgerson, David E.; Kritsonis, William Allan; Herrington, David; The Critical Role of the Teacher-Principal Relationship in the Improvement of Student Achievement in Public Schools of the United States. Lamar University Electronic Journal of Student Research v3 Spr 2006

The purpose of this article is to examine the effects and affect of schools maintaining positive and healthy relationships between principals and teachers, and to delineate those factors that facilitate and contribute to student academic success. Consequently, the purpose of the study will be threefold: 1) Examining school climate and culture phenomena germane to the development of substantive principal-teacher relationships; 2) Identifying those principal-teacher relational components that foster and affect teacher performance; and 3) Analyzing the overarching effects of the building and maintenance of substantive principal-teacher relationships on student academic achievement. Furthermore, it is the intent of the present study to hone in on these factors and report findings as one method of improving overall success for the nation’s schools at large.

Krug, Samuel E. Instructional Leadership, School Instructional Climate, and Student Learning Outcomes. Project Report. Published by National Center for School Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1208 W. Springfield, Urbana, IL 61801. (1992)
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Findings of a study that examined how effectively instructional leadership and instructional climate predict student learning outcomes are presented in this paper. Surveys to determine principals’ self-perceptions and teachers’ perceptions of instructional climate were completed by 72 principals and 1,523 teachers. Achievement results for 9,415 students, taken from the Illinois statewide student-assessment program, were available at the third-grade level (56 schools), sixth-grade level (41 schools), and eighth-grade level (15 schools). The dimensions of instructional leadership included: defining mission; managing curriculum and instruction; supervising and supporting teaching; monitoring student progress; and promoting instructional climate. Measured dimensions of instructional climate included accomplishment, recognition, power, and affiliation. Findings demonstrated a significantly positive correlation between principals’ self-ratings of instructional leadership and student achievement. The correlations were strongest for academic satisfaction, recognition, accomplishment, and commitment. No significant relationships were found between teacher ratings of instructional leadership and student achievement, though they were generally positive. In conclusion, the findings provide empirical evidence for a strong relationship between instructional leadership and student learning outcomes.

Lindmark, Terri. Improving Behavior and Academic Success through a Caring Classroom. Master’s Action Research Paper through Saint Xavier University. April 1996.
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Concern for disruptive behavior in the classroom has been an ongoing issue at the local, state, and national level. This report describes a program for improving behavior and academic success through a caring classroom. The targeted population consisted of elementary students in growing rural and urban communities at three different elementary schools. Students demonstrated disruptive behavior that interfered with academic growth. Analysis of probable cause data revealed that students lacked adequate social skills. Students were adversely impacted by violence, racial tension, lack of moral clarity, dysfunctional families, and poverty. Three major areas of intervention were selected: (1) activities that address social skills and conflict resolution; (2) academic activities that improve thinking skills in reading and writing; and (3) classroom procedures that enhance a caring climate. Post intervention data indicated a decrease in disruptive behavior and an increase in academic success. Thirty-nine appendices account for 33% of the document and contain all materials used in intervention. Contains 36 references.

Peterson, Reece L. and Skiba, R. Creating School Climates that Prevent School Violence. Preventing School Failure. V.44 n.3, pp 122-29. 2000

This article focuses on several approaches for schools to use of improve school climate, in part to prevent violence or at least to improve student behavioral conflicts, including: parent and community involvement, character education, violence-prevention and conflict-resolution curricula, peer mediation, and bullying prevention.

Osterman, K.F. (2000). Students’ need for beloning in the school community. Review of Educational Research, 70, 323-367.

A literature review emphasizes that supportive learning environments increase student engagement and attachment to school, and that these variables significantly influence academic performance.

Shindler, J., Jones, A., Clint, T., Cadenas, H. Does Seeking to Create a Better Classroom Climate lead to Student Success and/or Improved Teaching? Examining the Relationship Between Pedagogical Choices and Classroom Climate in Urban Secondary Schools. Charter College of Education, California State University, Los Angeles.
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Stolp, S. “Every School a Community: The Academic Value of Strong Social Bonds Among Staff and Students.” OSSC Bulletin 39/1 (October 1995): entire issue.

Cites research and case studies demonstrating the beneficial effects of school environments characterized by shared purpose, belongingness, mutual support, and other features of community. Notes that many of these environmental features are best achieved in small schools or small sub-units within schools.

Wang, M.C., Haertel, G.D. & Walberg, H.J. Synthesis of Research: What helps students learn? Educational Leadership, December 1993/January 1994, 74-79.
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In general, direct influences were found to have a greater impact on learning than indirect influences. Direct influences, for example, include the amount of time a teacher spends on a topic and the quality of the social interactions teachers have with their students. Examples of indirect influences include policies adopted by a school, district, or state and organizational features such as site-based management.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Elias, M.J. The Connection Between Academic and Social-Emotional Learning. From “The Educator’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence and Academic Achievement.”
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Elias, M.J. Graczyk, P.A. Weissberg, R.P., & Zins, J.E. Implementation, Sustainability and Scaling Up of Social-Emotional and Academic Innovations in Public Schools School Psychology Review, Vol. 32, 2003

Many attempts at bringing successful educational programs and products “to scale” as part of school reform, particularly in urban districts, have been disappointing. Based on the experiences of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and reviews of literature addressing implementation failures, observations about failures to “scale up” are presented. These include persistent structural features in educational settings that are too often unrecognized, the perpetuation of a narrow and decontextualized “programs and packages” perspective, poor management of time and other resources, and inadequate attention to characteristics of the adults who must carry out planned reforms. Several assumptions essential for success are identified, including the need to incorporate social and emotional learning as an integral part of academics and the ways in which diversity provides an ever-changing context for implementation. Concluding thoughts center around three points: the need to prepare professionals with the array of skills needed to lead efforts at scaling up school reform, the importance of an action-research perspective, and the need to better document the stories of educational innovation and scaling up efforts so that contextual details can enrich an understanding of what is required for success.

Fredericks, L. Social and Emotional Learning, Service-Learning, & Educational Leadership. 2003.
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Research brief from CASEL, LSS, and ECS explaining what high quality SEL and service-learning looks like; the interrelationship between these types of learning; and why and how educational leader’s can promote both in a way that also improves academic outcomes.

Haynes, N., Ben-Avie, & Ensign, J. (Eds.) (2003). How social and emotional development add up: Getting results in math and science education. New York: Teachers College Press.

Salovey, P., & Sluyter, D. J. (Eds.). (1997). Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Educational implications. New York: Basic Books.

Scales, P.C., Benson, P.L., Leffert, N., & Blyth, D.A. (2000). The contribution of developmental assets to the prediction of thriving outcomes among adolescents. Applied Developmental Science, 4(1), 27-46.

Shriver, T. and Weissberg, R.P. No Emotion Left Behind ?(2005, Aug 16) New York Times op-ed. “Good grades depend not just on brains, but on hearts…”

Weissberg, R. P., & Weissberg, E. W. (2003). Foreword. In N. Haynes, M. Ben-Avi, & J. Ensign (Eds.). How social and emotional development add up: Getting results in math and science education (pp. ix-xii). New York , NY : Teachers College Press.

Weissberg, R. P., & O’Brien, M. U. (2004). What works in school-based social and emotional learning programs for positive youth development. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591, 86-97.

Two challenges for researchers of school-based action are to identify effective approaches to prevent problem behaviors and promote positive youth development and to support the widespread implementation and sustainability of evidence-based preschool through high school practice. In this article, the authors describe integrated social, emotional, and academic education as a useful framework for conceptualizing school-based positive youth development programming. We then review findings from selected exemplary studies and research syntheses to support this perspective. We conclude with guidelines for implementing integrated social, emotional, and academic learning programs.

Zins, Joseph E., Bloodworth, Michelle R., Weissberg, Roger P., & Wahlber, Herbert J. Building Academic Success on Social and Emotional Learning: What Does the Research Say? Coumbia University Teachers College Press, 2004.

Zins, J. E., Elias, M. J., Weissberg, R. P., Frey, K. S., Greenberg, M. T., Haynes, N. M., Kessler, R., Schwab-Stone, M. E., & Shriver, T. P. Enhancing Learning through Social and Emotional Education (1998). THINK: The Journal on Critical and Creative Thinking, 9(1), 18-20.
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Relates examples of how social and emotional factors impact learning in the classroom; provides a straightforward scientific explanation of the relationship between emotions and cognition; and gives teachers guidelines on how to integrate SEL with their academic intruction.

Zins, J. E., Walberg, H. J., & Weissberg, R. P. Getting to the Heart of Educational Reform: Social and Emotional Learning for Academic Success. (2004, November). Communique, 33(3), 35.

Provides a short summary of how the SEL framework relates to the learning process, and how promoting SEL enhances educational outcomes.