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Use of student disciplinary referrals by high school teachers as it relates to empathy and classroom management

Skvarla, Lauren
Scope and Method of Study: Student disciplinary referrals result in students missing valuable classroom experiences. The purpose of this research was to study teachers at three urban high schools in terms of number of student discipline referrals, teacher level of empathy, and classroom management preference. This study employed mixed methods. Three survey instruments, responses to three written response scenarios, and five teacher interviews, employed over a month period, were the primary source of data for this research design. Quantitatively, Pearson product-moment correlations and an independent samples t-test were used to analyze the data. Qualitatively, data were analyzed using a constant comparative method. The mixing of quantitative and qualitative results occurred in the interpretation of the study. By analyzing and triangulating the scores from the survey instruments, written responses, and interview data findings were validated. Qualitative findings supported survey results.
Findings and Conclusions: It was found that a higher than average level of empathy by a teacher and a classroom environment that implements authoritative management principles can significantly decree the number of student discipline referrals that teacher writes. Conversely, it was also found that a teacher with a lower than average level of empathy and an authoritarian classroom management preference write significantly more written referrals. Because of these findings, training in empathy and classroom management should be implemented as part of teacher preparation programs and teacher professional development.