For their own good? The effects of school discipline and disorder on student behavior and academic achievement
AuthorWay, Sandra Marie
AdvisorBreiger, Ronald L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn order to curb school violence and increase academic achievement, many parents and politicians are calling for stricter disciplining in public schools. Before policy changes are made, however, it is important to better understand the relationship between school disorder, discipline, student behavior, and student achievement. Drawing on the school effects research tradition, deterrence theory, social psychological concepts of procedural justice and Emile Durkheim's formulation of moral authority, this dissertation: (1) examines the behavioral and academic consequences for students who attend school with disorderly climates; (2) empirically tests whether stricter school rules and punishment improve or worsen student misbehavior and academic achievement; (3) investigates how normative processes such as moral authority and procedural justice mediate this relationship; and (4) explores whether strict discipline differentially affects "at-risk" students. For the project, I employ multilevel analyses on data from the National Education Longitudinal Study (1988), a nationally representative, longitudinal survey compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics. As expected, students in disorderly schools tend to have higher misbehavior and lower achievement. Contextual effects are found for frequent disruptions and oppositional attitudes toward authority. For school discipline, the results indicate that effects are dependent on several factors including the particular outcome variable, the amount of disorder in the school, the perceived fairness and legitimacy of the system and the at-risk status of the student. The study provides evidence that stringent discipline can have some beneficial effects when it is perceived as moderate, meant to improve minor misbehavior, and directed towards mainstream students who generally believe in the legitimacy of the school system. Under others circumstances, such as if discipline is perceived as overly strict or applied to oppositional and at-risk students, discipline may actually be harmful. Particularly disconcerting is the lower likelihood of graduation found for at-risk students in high schools with stringent discipline. The goal is to construct rules and regulations that are seen as moderately strict but fair and which produce a school environment that is safe, orderly and generally conducive to learning. Suggested policy directions include refocusing on socialization, strengthening teacher authority and implementing procedures that bolster perceptions of fairness.
Degree ProgramGraduate College