An analysis of principals' decision-making and problem-solving processes in resolving student discipline problems

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Although there have been many articles and personal accounts that have focused on the discipline strategies that principals use, there have been few studies which have actually examined the specific discipline strategies and actions/decisions (simple type of problem solving which involves choosing from among known solutions) principals use in given situations. The purpose of the present study was to explore cognitive processes and problem-solving considerations that principals make in implementing discipline strategies in schools. More specifically, this study investigated: (a) the cognitive processes and strategies the principals use to solve different student discipline problems, and (b) the differences in the cognitive processes and strategies that principals' use to solve discipline problems according to principals' experience, gender, and ethnicity. This study also examined if there was a relationship between principals' cognitive processes and strategies and the schools' academic achievement. A random sample of elementary principals were chosen from the population of principals in the District. The sample was stratified by ethnicity so that 12 Black, 12 Hispanic, and 12 White principals were included. Only two principals from the original selected sample refused to participate and replacements from the population were then randomly chosen. These 36 principals are from a large urban school district in the Southern United States whose student ethnic population consists of Asian 2.9%, Black 41.8%, Hispanic 38.9%, Indian .1%, and White 16.3%. All the subjects for this study were full time elementary principals who were randomly selected and asked to participate in the study on a volunteer basis. The principals were contacted individually by telephone, and they were asked if they would volunteer to participate in the study pertaining to school discipline. When the principal agreed to participate in the study, a mutually agreeable appointment was made by the interviewer and the subject. The interviewer would agree to do the interview at the principal's school. [...]

School discipline, Elementary school principals