Teacher Perceptions and Discipline Disproportionalities in Schools

Date of Award


Degree Name

Specialist in Education (Ed.S.)


Department of Counselor Education and Human Services


Advisor: Elana Bernstein


School discipline disproportionately impacts males, students of color, and thosefrom low socioeconomic backgrounds. Previous research has focused on thesedisproportionalities and the different types of discipline used in response to studentbehavior, but there is a lack of research focused on how teachers decide how to disciplinestudents. The purpose of the current study was to determine the extent to which teachers'perceptions of their students-in other words, the knowledge that they have about theirstudents-impacts the disciplinary measures they take to address behavior. The currentstudy followed the transformative paradigm and utilized a qualitative, open-ended surveyto collect data. Eleven pre-K-12 teachers from Midwestern school districts were recruitedthrough the use of informants. Participants reported more problem behaviors from malestudents and those in special education settings. They reported the use of alternativediscipline measures more often than exclusionary discipline measures. Finally,participants reported that they consider mitigating factors when determining appropriateconsequences for students. The findings from this study can inform teacher trainingprograms and strategies to combat problem behavior in schools.


African Americans, Education, Psychology, Teacher Education, discipline, discipline disproportionality, teacher perceptions, school discipline

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