Date on Honors Thesis

Spring 5-2023




Criminal Justice

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Amanda Joyce, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Michael Bordieri, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Tracey Garcia McCue, Committee Member


Schools have the unique and important opportunity to teach students useful life and coping skills as well as positive behavior in their community. One way in which they may impact their students is through their choice of disciplinary methods. Research suggests that alternative disciplinary methods may be more beneficial to students than are traditional exclusionary policies. For part one of this study, undergraduate students reported their experiences with traditional and alternative discipline in elementary, middle, and high school as well as their engagement in school (school involvement and attitudes of school faculty). Results showed that having alternative methods at a young age was significantly positively correlated with involvement at school and outlook of teachers and counselors, and negatively correlated with disciplinary issues in future educational settings. Surprisingly, given the utility of these alternative methods, they are not often utilized in schools, perhaps because teachers and counselors feel constrained to using more traditional disciplinary techniques (Merrett & Wheldall, 1986; Teasley, 2014).

The second part of the study examined disciplinary techniques from the perspective of school employees. Teachers, administrators, and counselors in elementary, middle, and high schools completed a revised Parental Authority Questionnaire (Buri, 1991), the Measuring Authoritative Teaching Questionnaire (Ertesvåg, 2011), the Sense of Agency Scale (Tapal et. al, 2017), and questions regarding levels of perceived control and disciplinary methods used. I hypothesized positive correlations among sense of agency and use of alternative disciplinary methods. I also hypothesized that the more authoritarian teaching would be associated with higher use of traditional disciplinary methods and lower use of alternative discipline, whereas the opposite will be true for authoritative teachers. Results largely did not support these hypotheses, but post-hoc analyses showed a pattern of interrelations that suggests other traits that may be important in helping educators to decide among disciplinary methods, which has important implications for how schools can support their employees, which in turn, improves student learning conditions.

Included in

Psychology Commons