Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Reactive behavior management strategies used in classrooms to discipline students have been ineffective in limiting discipline problems and decreasing the number of suspensions and expulsions. A rural primary school in California with numerous discipline problems during the 2015-2016 through 2017-2018 school years adopted the Responsive Classroom (RC), a proactive and systemwide approach to improve behavioral and academic outcomes. The purpose of this case study was to identify, explore, and understand the discipline strategies used by primary school educators and their perspectives regarding the RC approach to teaching used at the research site. Bandura’s social learning theory was the conceptual framework that informed this study, which suggests that individuals tend to respond to experiences as they perceive them. Seven purposively selected educators were interviewed, and discipline logs, class schedules, and lesson plans documenting morning meetings were reviewed to understand discipline problems prior to and after the implementation of the RC approach. Using content analysis, 7 themes were developed. Participants had positive perspectives about the RC approach in terms of improvement of student behavior and evidence of implementing morning meetings/classroom expectations; however, some reactive discipline practices like detention and office referrals were still being used to address discipline problems. This study contributes to positive social change by providing educators with evidence to inform school discipline practices regarding the importance of using proactive strategies with the goal of decreasing student discipline issues and classroom disruptions, while providing a safe and caring classroom environment where students can focus on learning.