TRIBES TRAINING AND EXPERIENCES LOWER THE INCIDENCE
OF REFERRAL ACTIONS FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS
By Dr. Judith Holt
Assistant Principal for Instruction
Thomas Edison Preparatory
Tulsa Public Schools
PDK Connection, Phi Delta Kappa, Tulsa Chapter 1021, March 2000
The four graphs depicted in this summary paper are the result of a first semester study of discipline referral frequencies and types in a Tulsa middle school. The graphs compare the discipline actions of 6th grade teachers and students between treatment and control groups. One team of teachers (four classrooms) had been trained in the Tribes program, wherein strategies in building a “learning community” based upon the agreements of mutual respect, appreciation, and attentive listening are employed. The other team of teachers (four classrooms) had not been trained in the Tribes program. Approximately 280 students had been randomly assigned to the classroom groups. Students attended these classrooms for their core curriculum instruction, approximately 4 hours per day. In addition, classrooms where elective subjects were taught and where the teachers had not been trained in the Tribes program were also used as control groups. Computer access to student data and to teacher referral actions provided 100% of student disciplinary and counseling referral data. The Tribes-trained teachers wrote fewer referrals than the non-trained teachers. Students in Tribes classrooms had fewer referral problems than students in non-trained classrooms. Students from Tribes-trained classrooms also demonstrated improved behavior and fewer disciplinary referrals in their elective classes and in the wider school community including transportation (bus referrals).
Graph 1 entitled: “Teacher Referral Frequencies” shows that the strategies teachers used in the Tribes program resulted in the need for fewer referrals for discipline.
Graph 2 entitled: “Discipline Referral Typology” depicts the types of discipline referral issues which teachers impact most when using Tribes activities: Refusal to work or follow directions…and Disruptive behavior. Referrals, which school and district policies would require, are represented in the categories of Fighting and Other. Since Tribes learning activities focus on cooperative learning, structured peer interaction, and reflection (thinking), it appears that greater cooperation and less disruption would be likely results. This study’s data confirms that result.
Graph 3 entitled: “Student Referral Frequencies” reveals that students who had participated in and experienced Tribes learning activities had fewer referable discipline problems than students who had not participated. Tribes experienced students continued to behave better in classes, buses, halls, and other school related settings even when they were not under the direction of Tribes trained teachers.
Graph 4 entitled: “Student Referral Typology” depicts the types of referrals that Tribes experienced and Non-Tribes experienced students incurred. Again, remarkable differences occurred in the categories of Refusal to work or follow directions and Disruptive behavior. Even in requisite referral categories, Fighting and Other, Tribes experienced students fared extremely well.
The study concludes that cooperative learning activities, which require reflection and positive peer and teacher interactions, based on important agreements (mutual respect, appreciation, and attentive listening) are effective interventions in the prevention and elimination of referable discipline problems in the classroom and other school settings.
“Pupil Control Ideology: The Typology of Teacher Referrals,” Dr. Judith Holt, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK, 1993. (Doctoral Dissertation).