Teacher Perception of the Acceptability and Utility of a School-Wide Positive Behavioural Approach to Discipline

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Mifflen, Mary
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Studies have shown that school culture and climate have an immense influence on students' academic achievement (Coyle & Witcher, 1992; Rutter, 1983). Review of current research literature reveals an abundance of programs designed to improve the behavioural functioning of students. A concomitant proliferation of studies delves into the effectiveness of these programs. Many studies base determination of efficacy upon achieving a criterion of reduced office discipline referrals per month. An underlying assumption is that, as the climate of the school improves, challenging behaviour is reduced. A complementary means of evaluating efficacy is via examination of the social validity of a program. Social validity is defined as the social significance of the goals of interventions, the social acceptability of the components of interventions used to attain those goals, and the social importance of the effects of an intervention (Wolf, 1978). Adherence to policies and techniques are more likely to be adequately achieved by individuals who believe in a program's goals and effects, as well as its techniques or processes. Initiatives adopted to address childhood behaviour must be deemed useful and acceptable by those implementing it; otherwise implementation may lack integrity and risk failure. This could not only undermine the use of a promising and potentially beneficial initiative, but also risks burn-out and cynicism in response to future attempts to improve school climates. Given the importance of school climate, and disciplinary approaches as part of this climate, the purpose of this study was to examine teachers' perceptions of the effectiveness and usefulness of a district-wide, school-based initiative - Positive and Effective Behaviour Supports (PEBS) - in one school board in Nova Scotia. Currently in Nova Scotia, evaluation of this program is focussed upon evaluation of discipline referrals. It was the aim of the current research to provide complementary analysis to inform the School Board's implementation of the PEBS initiative. Results demonstrated that elementary teachers were more likely than middle/junior high teachers to perceive PEBS as useful for managing behaviour and effective in communicating school wide expectations to children. Elementary teachers also tended to report improved management style and climate change to a greater extent than did middle/junior high teachers. Results were discussed in relation to training and implementation improvements.
Behavior modification , School discipline -- Nova Scotia , Positive Effective Behaviour Supports