Name of Institution: Vanderbilt University
Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Lipsey
Title: Evaluation of Ohio's School Conflict Management Program
Purpose: Interpersonal conflict and aggressive behavior occur at unacceptably high rates in many U.S. schools, not only threatening students and teachers, but also harming academic performance. The purpose of this study is to examine the Ohio School Conflict Management Program, a well-established and promising program that addresses interpersonal conflict and aggressive behavior. The intervention aims to improve both behavioral and academic outcomes among middle school students. At the end of the project, the results will show whether implementation of the Ohio School Conflict Management Program in schools throughout the state reduces student-to-student and student-to-teacher conflict and improves attendance and academic performance.
Setting: 50 Ohio middle schools are participating in the project.
Population: The participants are students in grades 6-8.
Intervention: The Ohio School Conflict Management Program is a promising program that has been designed around principles of conflict resolution drawn from the broader professional contexts of dispute resolution and conflict management in ways that give it coherence and credibility. The program has been developed and shaped by the demands of practice and is widely implemented in Ohio.
The School Conflict Management Program consists of the following elements: 6-8 representatives of each school participate in a 3-day off-site training. The school representatives implement the program by training other staff, integrating conflict management into the academic curriculum, organizing special school events, and involving parents. Trainers provide on-site consultations to the school. There will be two years of implementation in the school to allow for fine-tuning of the program and sustainability.
Research Design and Methods: The researchers are conducting a randomized controlled trial with 25 schools randomly assigned to receive the conflict management program (treatment) and 25 assigned to the control condition. Approximately 150 students per grade in each school will be surveyed. If the school has fewer than 150 students, then all students will be sampled, if a school has more than 150 students, then 150 will be randomly selected.
Implementation will be monitored extensively through evaluating the written documents produced by schools, telephone interviews of selected school personnel, and reports from the trainer during consulting visits to the school.
Control Condition: Schools in the control condition will be given the opportunity to send one representative to a regional conference or workshop on school conflict management. Control schools may elect to adopt and pay for another conflict management program other than the Ohio School Conflict Management Program.
Key Measures: A survey of students will be the primary measure of aggressive and hurtful student behaviors. School records and teacher, principal, and staff surveys will also be used to measured interpersonal conflict. School attendance records will be used to measure attendance and truancy, and school achievement testing data in reading and math for students in grades 6-8 will be used to measure academic achievement. Administrative data on program costs will also be collected.
Data Analytic Strategy: Analyses will include HLM models to examine the overall impact of the program on the following outcomes: (a) student-student and student-teacher interpersonal conflict, including both verbally and physically aggressive and disruptive behavior, (b) the academic performance of the students, and (c) attendance and truancy. In addition, HLM models will examine differences in outcomes associated with program implementation and the characteristics of the participating schools. A descriptive cost-benefit analysis will also be conducted.