Title

Effect of Community on Replacing Aggressive Speech with Prosocial Speech in a High School Classroom for Students with Special Needs

Graduation Date

5-2014

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Education

Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell, Ph.D.

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, Ed.D.

Abstract

An impediment to learning especially with students with special needs is conflict between students. Students within this setting tend to engage in aggressive verbal behavior with one another. The purpose of this research is to examine the effect of community building in replacing aggressive speech with prosocial speech. The research literature revealed that prosocial behavior is linked to academic achievement. Aggressive behavior is linked to high drop out rates in high school, low attendance and low grade point average. Research in cooperative learning indicates that it promotes achievement and prosocial behaviors. Participants for this study included 17 high school students assigned to a life science class. The researcher also served as teacher of record of this class. A mixed methods research approach was put in place, collecting both quantitative and qualitative data. This data included tallying the number of utterances of aggressive speech. Qualitative data included interviews with paraprofessionals as well as researcher observations of student interactions. Descriptive data were collected for a period of 9 months. The researcher implemented ten community building strategies as a part of the instructional design. Results indicated that student self-esteem and student ownership in the student’s learning environment are effective in reducing aggressive speech and lead to less conflict oriented distraction during class time which allows for more meaningful instruction time.

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