Date of Award

6-1998

Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

First Advisor

Michael R. Steele

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative study is to answer the central research question: How does a fifth grade teacher guide students through their interpersonal conflicts? The sub-questions of this study are: 1) What techniques are used to help students solve their interpersonal conflicts? 2) When does a teacher employ these techniques? 3) How do students respond to the strategies suggested by the teacher? and 4) How does the teacher learn these conflict management strategies? In preparing for this study I consulted conflict management researchers such as David W. Johnson who believes that :if students can learn to take responsibility for their own behavior,classrooms will be safer places to learn and teachers will have more time to teach. This study took place at a suburban K-5 Title I elementary school. The participants were one class of fifth grade students and their teacher. Information was gathered in the classroom through on site observations and , a formal interview of the teachers. Pseudonyms have been used throughout this study to protect the participants' anonymity and their rights to privacy. After collecting and organizing field notes and my interview data I noticed a few patterns developing in the way this fifth grade teacher guides her students through their interpersonal conflicts. My research revealed that this teacher's self-taught problem solving techniques seem to be effective in getting students to resolve their conflicts. What's more, children walk away from teacher interventions smiling. I was surprised to learn from my interview that although this fifth grade teacher has been teaching for more that five years, and is observably a successful mediator, she has never participated in a formal conflict management training program.

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