An Exploratory Case Study of the Formal and Informal Discipline Policies Used in Selected Elementary School Classrooms

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1999

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Abstract

The broad aim of this study was to examine the dynamics of classroom discipline policy through the use of the micropolitical model of interaction. While this study explored classroom di scipline policies utilizing the micropolitical perspective, it was classroom discipline that was the center of interest in this research. The template that framed and guided the exploration of classroom discipline included enactment, conveyance, realization, and evaluation as the particular phases of policy development. A distinctive feature of this study was the focus on the explicit, stated policies and the more subtle but equally important "dominant patterns of practice" in the classroom. This exploratory case study of the formal and informal discipline policies used in selected elementary school classrooms was a qualitative research endeavor. The data sources included in-depth guided interviews and semi-structured classroom observations, supplemented by informal interviews and pertinent printed material. The methods of data analysis involved categorizing, distilling themes, and arraying chains of evidence. The findings of this case study involved the ways in which teachers and students assert power and control; conflicts are manifest; compromises are used; protection is fundamental; and the classroom context affects, hinders, and constructs social order in the classroom. The views, behaviors, and verbal exchanges of the teachers and students concerning discipline were paramount to the analyses of the discipline policies used in the selected elementary school classrooms. The conclusions of this case study were that the micropolitical model of interaction is a productive, yet unrefined conceptual framework for the study of classroom discipline; discipline policies are teacher-centered, noise-related, and community-focused; the dominant mechanisms for teacher-based control are rewards and punishments; the dominant outcome of conflict and assertions of power is the brokering of policies; compromises are used to reduce conflicts and produce student compliance; intentions and realities pose a paradox; and the influence from parents is an important factor.

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