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As a researcher on student mental health and well-being, Keith Herman found that overall, offering students more positive encouragement rather than negative reprimands not only reduces students ’destructive behavior in the classroom, but can also improve students’ academic and social performance.

However, in a recent study, Herman found that in the midst of traumatic social events, such as the shooting in the neighborhood, classroom Behavioral management activities may not have the desired results for some people who may be struggling with the trauma or depression associated with such an event.

Herman, Honored Professor of Pedagogical, School and Counseling Psychology Curator at the MU College of Education and Human Development, introduced CHAMPS, training for classroom behavior management teachers, in St. Louis County High School classes from 2013 to 2017. The event highlighted students’ clear expectations. giving more positive encouragement compared to negative reproaches and moving around the classroom for control student behavior.

Herman found that overall intervention led to less destructive behavior in the classroom and problems with student concentration, as well as an increase in classroom work standardized. test resultsand the amount of time students spent on assignments in the classroom – all of which led to more active learning.

However, given the traumatic shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, Herman was motivated to explore what impact this event had on the mental health and well-being of students and teachers in the St. Louis County School District where CHAMPS intervened.

Herman analyzed again the same data set from his previous CHAMPS study, a randomized controlled trial involving more than 100 high school teachers and 1,450 students. He found that while the positive benefits of student achievement equally affected both white and black students before shooting, the benefits of student achievement disappeared for black students after shooting.

“Perhaps this traumatic historical event, which is happening so close to these students, could undermine the ability of some young people to benefit from these positive interventions in the classroom,” Herman said. “If you feel threatened or dangerous because of an injury from this event, you may become more distracted, frustrated, and less able to pay attention in class, which can affect your performance.”

Herman also found common CHAMPS intervention to be more beneficial to black teachers before the shooting than after, and in particular, the ratio of positive student encouragement versus negative reprimands dropped sharply for black teachers after the shooting. One surprising finding was that teachers reported that black students actually increased the manifestation of prosocial behavior, including kindness, compassion, and helping others, after shooting compared to before.

“Our main goal is to promote intervention so that young people learn to feel good and be optimistic about their future, and this study highlights the complexity of these goals, as our efforts to create an enabling environment must be attentive to all aspects of the context. “We already know that black youth are experiencing higher rates of disproportionate disciplinary practices, most often rejected or excluded, and the pipeline from school to prison is well documented. When black youth are exposed to traumatic racial events, when people like them are harmed, that can potentially undermine what positive interventions are trying to achieve. ”

Herman added that while Brown’s filming was a traumatic event analyzed in this particular study, the results highlight how traumatic events in society as a whole can undermine the mental health and well-being of individuals. These exposures can potentially interfere with classroom interventions that are designed to be beneficial.

“Other possible examples are the events of September 11, 2001, which disproportionately affected the children of emergency response personnel, or the tragedy of a coal mine near school an area with many children of coal, ”Herman said.“ As scientists and researchers, we sometimes have this facade of objectivity, rigorously developing randomized controlled trials that are often considered the gold standard for eliminating bias. But in reality these are often more nuances depending on the historical traumatic event. Our science will become stronger and richer if we spend more time thinking about potential biases or events that may have affected the results. ”

The results can help directors school administrators and superintendents brainstorm possible counseling resources for students and faculty or engage professionals trained to facilitate discussion of traumatic events.

After working at MU for 15 years, Herman is co-director of the Missouri Institute for Prevention Science and the National Center for Rural School Mental Health, co-developer of the Boone County Family Access Best Practice Center and a member of the Boone County Board of Mental Schools. Health Care Coalition.

“I admire the creation of a positive, supportive environment for students and teachers, where everyone can develop and be successful,” said Herman. “It reduces the risks for mental health problems and contributes to positive well-being and a better general society ”.

“Accounting for Traumatic Historical Events in Educational Randomized Controlled Studies” was recently published in Review of school psychology.

Focus on the positive to improve classroom behavior

Additional information:
Keith S. Herman et al., Accounting for Traumatic Historical Events in Educational Randomized Controlled Trials, Review of school psychology (2022). DOI: 10.1080 / 2372966X.2021.2024768

Citation: Traumatic social events can undermine classroom behavior for some groups, study results (2022, May 19) obtained on May 19, 2022 from -undermine-classroom. html

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