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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 May 10;113(19):5221-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1523698113. Epub 2016 Apr 25.

Brief intervention to encourage empathic discipline cuts suspension rates in half among adolescents.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305 okonofua@gmail.com.
2
Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.

Abstract

Growing suspension rates predict major negative life outcomes, including adult incarceration and unemployment. Experiment 1 tested whether teachers (n = 39) could be encouraged to adopt an empathic rather than punitive mindset about discipline-to value students' perspectives and sustain positive relationships while encouraging better behavior. Experiment 2 tested whether an empathic response to misbehavior would sustain students' (n = 302) respect for teachers and motivation to behave well in class. These hypotheses were confirmed. Finally, a randomized field experiment tested a brief, online intervention to encourage teachers to adopt an empathic mindset about discipline. Evaluated at five middle schools in three districts (Nteachers = 31; Nstudents = 1,682), this intervention halved year-long student suspension rates from 9.6% to 4.8%. It also bolstered respect the most at-risk students, previously suspended students, perceived from teachers. Teachers' mindsets about discipline directly affect the quality of teacher-student relationships and student suspensions and, moreover, can be changed through scalable intervention.

KEYWORDS:

discipline; empathy; respect; school suspensions; teacher–student relationships

PMID:
27114516
PMCID:
PMC4868443
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1523698113
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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