A Descriptive Study of Attitudes and Behavior in the Public School
The problem. Research indicates that discipline is the biggest problem facing public schools. Surveys indicate that the public, school administrators, and teachers feel that more needs to be done to resolve this serious issue. This study was designed to provide a self-contained classroom, for a small number of sixth grade students who were exhibiting problem behaviors at school, where time would be available to talk about problems and work on solutions. Procedures. The students for the treatment group were subjectively selected on the basis of problem behaviors each of them had exhibited during their fifth grade year. Students deemed not to have exhibited problem behaviors were selected for a comparison group using a matched-pairs technique. The treatment group spent time each day talking about problem behaviors they were having, how to deal with them, and working with affective materials. Findings. The treatment group showed significant negative growth in attitude toward school, and significant growth in reducing overt problem behavior and academic achievement. The comparison group showed no significant. growth in attitude toward school and overt problem behavior, and significant growth in academic achievement. A comparison of attitude toward school gain scores to overt problem behavior gain scores and academic achievement gain scores for both groups showed no significant correlation in any instance. Conclusions. Based on this study there is no apparent advantage in working on attitude toward school for reducing the number of overt problem behaviors at school, improving academic achievement, or improving attitude toward school. This study supports the findings in the literature of no significant correlation between attitude and behavior, and attitude toward school and academic achievement. Recommendations. If similar studies are to be done in the future an objective criterion check list should be developed and applied to an entire population in the year prior to the study to identify students with overt problem behaviors, and the treatment and comparison groups should be organized in the same type of classrooms taught by teachers trained to use the same methods and materials.
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