Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Date of Defense

12-5-2008

Graduate Advisor

Marvin W. Berkowitz, Ph.D.

Committee

Robert Ricklefs

Battistich, Victor

Brown, Kathleen

Murphy, Carole

Ding, Cody

Abstract

Student problem behavior is incompatible with academic achievement and positive interpersonal relationships. It has become necessary for schools to develop codes of conduct to address inappropriate student behavior. But, current school disciplinary policies are ineffective instruments for effecting positive change in student problem behavior (Goodman, 2006). In response to this problem, public school districts are developing a wide variety of approaches to dealing with the needs of problem behavior students. One approach has been the development of alternative high school programs - school district initiatives specifically designed to meet the needs of students lacking success in the traditional high school setting. This study explores the impact of a character education based interactive discipline program on student problem behavior of at-risk students in an alternative high school setting. Participants in this study included 97 students (37 female, 60 male) during the first school year of the study (2004 ? 2005) and 90 students (34 female, 56 male) during the second (2005 ? 2006) from a large suburban school district. Ninety-three percent of the students were Caucasian, 3% were African American and 3% were Hispanic. Forty-nine students (19 female, 30 male) were enrolled in the school during both years of the study. The data revealed that there was no statistically significant difference between the use of a traditional approach to discipline and the use of a character education based interactive discipline program in reducing recidivism for students who participated in the study over one year (t = -.059, df = 83, p = .504) or over two years (t = -1.309, df = 36, p = .09). The data also revealed there was no statistically significant difference between the two discipline approaches in raising student GPAs over one year (t = -1.225, df = 80, p = .112) or over two years (t = -1.794, df = 38, p = .945). Similarly, the data revealed that there was no statistically significant correlation between change in GPA and recidivism over one year (R = -0.18, p = .215) or over two years (R = -0.23, p = .314).

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