Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Scarfe Room 2415, 2:30pm
Supervisor: Dr. Shelley Hymel (HDLC)
Supervisory Committee: Dr. Brenda Morrison (SFU), Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl (HDLC)
Title: The Role of Discipline Practices in Student Connectedness to School, Bullying and Victimization
In light of compelling empirical evidence, school connectedness is a strong protective factor, helping to protect students from a range of risky and violent behaviours, and a powerful predictor of student psychological wellbeing and academic achievement. In contrast, prevalence of interpersonal aggression and peer victimization are major threats to student engagement and positive school climate. This study argues that teachers’ approach to school discipline is an important determinant of students’ connectedness to school as well as of quality of their interpersonal dynamics, and explores how student perceptions of positive and negative discipline strategies predict their feelings of school connectedness as well as rates of involvement in bullying and victimization. Elementary students (N = 2303, grades 4-7) from 18 participating schools in a single school district completed self-report measures of connectedness, bullying, victimization and discipline practices as a part of a larger project on School Climate and Bullying. Results of Hierarchical Linear Regression analyses indicated that discipline practices accounted for 43% of variance in school connectedness, 8% of the variance in bullying and 15% of the variance in victimization, after controlling for sex, grade and school differences. Greater school connectedness was most strongly predicted by restorative discipline and fairness, whereas higher reports of bullying and victimization were predicted by low fairness, use of punitive discipline or perceived lack of discipline by students. Overall, these findings provide new evidence concerning the role of school discipline, and suggest important implications for teachers and educational professionals.