A comparative analysis of discipline in South Australian schools in 1990 and 1995

Year: 1996

Author: Oswald, Murray, Johnson, Bruce, Adey, Kym

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In 1989, the Education Department of South Australia implemented a new policy on school discipline. Ten months later, in mid 1990, a major study of teachers' views on discipline was undertaken by the authors. This study was replicated five years later in South Australian Government schools. In this paper, comparisons are made between the responses of teachers in both studies. Results reveal that teachers in both the 1990 and 1995 studies reported that many minor discipline problems occurred daily in their classes. However, teachers in the 1995 study reported a 50% lower rate of 'repeat misbehaviours' during the day, suggesting that new behaviour management strategies that focus on greater student accountability may reduce repeated misbehaviour. These findings need to be interpreted within a wider context as other changes to schools, teachers and students during the intervening five years (eg, increased forced teacher mobility, increase in class sizes, worsening industrial climate, school restructuring, etc.) compound simple explanations. Both studies revealed the complexity of school discipline issues in South Australian schools.