Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis


Master of Science



Program Director

Laura Stivers, PhD, MDiv

First Reader

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

Second Reader

Elizabeth Truesdell, PhD


Previous research has found that Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) positively impacts students’ behavior and academic performance, while also contributing to the cultivation of a positive school climate. Prior research on PBIS has focused on the effectiveness of its implementation in high school and elementary school settings. There has been limited research on PBIS in middle school settings and few studies have explored why and how PBIS is effective. The purpose of this research project was to better understand the perceptions and perspectives of middle school aged students about the effectiveness of PBIS at their school in order to adjust and strengthen PBIS procedures to better serve this specific population. Through a qualitative approach, this thesis builds from two focus group interviews with twelve eighth grade students and six in-depth individual interviews with students from the focus group. The findings from this research demonstrate that the effectiveness of PBIS within this particular middle school is dependent on the students’ perceptions of the teachers’ behavior. Through analyzing data from the interviews, it was found that students were willing to participate and engage with PBIS procedures if they perceived a teacher’s behavior to be contributing to a positive school climate.

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