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Students, Teachers, and a Fundamental Mismatch: Comparing Perspectives on the Purposes of Punishment in School Settings

  • Student misbehavior and its treatment is a major challenge for teachers and a threat to their well-being. Indeed, teachers are obliged to punish student misbehavior on a regular basis. Additionally, teachers’ punishment decisions are among the most frequently reported situations when it comes to students’ experiences of injustice in school. By implication, it is crucial to understand teachers’ treatment of student misbehavior vis-à-vis students’ perceptions. One key dimension of punishment behavior reflects its underlying motivation and goals. People generally intend to achieve three goals when punishing misbehavior, namely, retribution (i.e., evening out the harm caused), special prevention (i.e., preventing recidivism of the offender), and general prevention (i.e., preventing imitation of others). Importantly, people’s support of these punishment goals is subject to hierarchy and power, implying that teachers’ and students’ punishment goal preferences differ. In this dissertation, I present three research projects that shed first light on teachers’ punishment and its goals along with the students’ perception of classroom intervention strategies pursuing these goals. More specifically, I first examined students’ (i.e., children’s) general support of each of the three punishment goals sketched above. Furthermore, I applied an attributional approach to understand and study the goals teachers intend to achieve when punishing student misbehavior. Finally, I investigated teachers’ and students’ support of the punishment goals regarding the same student misbehavior to directly compare their views on these goals and reactions pursuing them. In sum, the findings show that students generally prefer retribution and special prevention to general prevention, whereas teachers prefer general prevention and special prevention to retribution. This ultimately translates into a "mismatch" of teachers and students in their preferences for specific punishment goals, and the findings suggest that this may indeed enhance students’ perception of injustice. Overall, the results of the present research program may be valuable for the development of classroom intervention strategies that may reduce rather than enhance conflicts in student-teacher-interactions.

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Author:Mathias Twardawski
Advisor:Anna Baumert, Manfred Schmitt
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2019/03/17
Date of publication:2019/03/19
Publishing institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Universitätsbibliothek
Granting institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Fachbereich 8
Date of final exam:2019/03/08
Release Date:2019/03/19
Tag:punishment goals; student misbehavior
Number of pages:136
Institutes:Fachbereich 8
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 158 Angewandte Psychologie
BKL-Classification:77 Psychologie
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht: § 53 UrhG