THE EFFECTIVENESS OF REWARDS AND PUNISHMENT IN PROMOTING DISCIPLINE AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS

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CHAPTER ONE

1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

The problem of indiscipline is more apparent among learners across the education spectrum (Kerlinger, 1986). Throughout much of the history of the education system in England and Wales, the exercise of indiscipline was focused on the perceived moral imperative of countering the individual’s weakness of character through the administration of justifiable punishment. This objective was rejected in the legal basis for punishment. The legal parameters were established primarily through the application of the principles legitimating parental chastisement as a justification for actions which would otherwise give rise to civil or criminal liability. Punishment had to be moderate and reasonable, whether for example involving detention or corporal punishment (Blair, 2001). By sending the child to school the parent was assumed to accept the authority of the school to administer punishment within the limits set by law (i.e. the common law). Current research shows that cases of learner indiscipline are on the increase in South African schools and in some cases, learners are alleged to have murdered others in school premises (Harber et al, 2001).

The learner indiscipline cases reported in schools raised concerns about the safety of schools and classroom environments. South African educators suggested that alternative measures to corporal punishment were not very effective in curbing learner indiscipline in schools (Zulu et al, 2004). There are arguments for the use of corporal punishment but with the thrust on protection of students’s rights and the documented negative effects of corporal punishment (Zaibert, 2006), there is increasing need for teachers to beware of effective alternative measures and embrace them (Belvel & Jordan, 2002). The word discipline means a system of guiding the individual to make reasonable decisions. It is actions taken by adults to help a child change his/her behaviour (Mbiti, 2004; Read et al, 2003). Jones (2009) says that “discipline, most simply stated is the business of enforcing simple classroom rules that facilitate learning and minimize disruption”. Variations on this definition are oered by Duke (2009), Gettinger (2007) and many others. Strother (2005) notes that some educators view disciplinary activities as irritating intrusions into school life which should not be necessary. Whatever their exact definition, most researchers and writers seem to agree that nowhere is it more true that prevention is better than cure in disciplining young people in educational settings. Tuluhi and Bello (2000) assert that indiscipline is the breaking of rules and regulations of institutions. Individuals willingly or unwillingly violate laid down rules of an institution, which hampers the smooth running of the institution. To this end, indiscipline can simply be seen as a way of life not in conformity with rules and non -subjection to control. By extension, the term connotes the violations of school rules and regulations capable of obstructing the smooth and orderly functioning of the school system (Adeyemo, 2005). School rules and regulations in most cases do aect students more than any other thing because they are made by the school authorities in order to guide and protect the students while in school. Learners in preschool have often depicted activities and behavior that is not in conformity to the laid down school rules and regulations or even responding appropriately to the teacher’s instructions (Ramani, 2002). Administrators have attributed indiscipline among school students to certain biological changes signaling maturity in the course of their growth and development and to other environmental and social factors that influence behavior (Mukharjee; 2005).

Year on year the problem continues to get worse and teachers, as well as the majority of pupils, grow more and more frustrated with the continuing disruption of classes. While the most publicized cases of indiscipline are those at the severe end of the scale, such as those involving serious substance abuse or acts of violence, these represent only a small percentage of incidents in schools. It is the more common incidences of recurring low or mid-level indiscipline which cause a much greater problem for teachers (East Africa Standard Team, 2001, April 23rd). High behavioral expectations are characteristic of every school. In contrast to poorly disciplined schools, sta in well-disciplined schools share and communicate high expectations for appropriate student behavior (Piazza, et al., 2007). Rules, sanctions and procedures are developed with input from students, are clearly specified and made known to everyone in the school. Researchers such as Short (2008) have found that student participation in developing and reviewing school discipline programs creates a sense of ownership and belongingness. Widespread dissemination of clearly stated rules and procedures ensures that all students and sta understand what is and is not acceptable (Short, 2008). Smedley and Willower (2001) assert that a warm social climate, characterized by a concern for students as individuals is typical of well-disciplined schools. Teachers and administrators take an interest in the personal goals, achievements, and problems of students and support them in their academic and extracurricular activities. Many poorly disciplined schools have principals who are visible only for “official” duties such as assemblies or when enforcing school discipline. In contrast, principals of well-disciplined schools tend to be very visible in hallways and classrooms, talking informally with teachers and students, speaking to them by name, and expressing interest in their activities. Such Principals in well-disciplined schools take responsibility for dealing with serious infractions, but they hold teachers responsible for handling routine classroom discipline problems. They assist teachers to improve their classroom management and discipline skills by arranging for staff development activities as needed. Doyle (2009) and Miller (2006) propose in-school suspension programs which include guidance, support, planning for change and opportunities to build new skills. These have been demonstrated to be effective in improving individual student behavior and thus increasing school order. However, structures in which students are given rewards (e.g., verbal, tangible, or privileges) and sanctions (e.g., loss of privileges, such as television time, snacks, or later bedtime) at home, based on their behavior at school, have been shown to improve student behavior (Atkeson & Forehand 2009).

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Discipline is of paramount importance in the life and development of a person. As is the nature of students, they constantly make mistakes and it is not rare to find students in preschool who display deviant behavior that may attract punishment. Both preschool teachers and parents have a role in ensuring that the indiscipline cases encountered are dealt with accordingly by use of various disciplining methods. The way the teachers and parents in Nigeria deal with these problems by use of rewards and punishment was the principal motivation for this study. This study therefore sought to examine the effectiveness of the use of rewards and punishment in promoting discipline among secondary school students

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF REWARDS AND PUNISHMENT IN PROMOTING DISCIPLINE AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS