RES 724 Research Protocol

Research Protocol

University of Phoenix

Research Protocol

Proposed Title to Accurately Describe the Research Study

A Mixed Methods Correlational Study on the Relationship Between Conscious Discipline®, School Climate, and Student Achievement

Background of the Problem and Rationale

According to famed author W.E.B. Du Bois, “Of all the civil rights for which the world has struggled and fought for over 5,000 years, the right to learn is undoubtedly the most fundamental.” Learning, however, can be difficult when faced with distraction. Classroom management is often a substantial challenge for school teachers and administrators as they consider the importance of student achievement and positive school climate (Caldarella, Page, & Gunter, 2012). Despite decades of innovation and improvement, student achievement levels remain at unacceptable levels. In particular, a large number of students of color, students with limited English proficiency, and students with disabilities continue to perform below grade level. Researchers note the clear message that current strategies will not suffice as stakeholders work to achieve a lengthy set of ambitious goals for America’s students. Educational leaders who invest their time and energy in assessing and improving America’s schools work to increase efficacy and climate. Research supports the relationship between positive school climate and an increase in student achievement (Halawah, 2005), teacher retention and satisfaction (Santos de Barona & Barona, 2006), reduced school violence (Khoury-Kassbri, Benbenisty, & Astor, 2005), and unceasing school reform (Kelley et al., 2005).

General problem. The general problem is that negative behaviors may hinder classroom climate and student achievement. According to Seidman (2005), in an effort to more understand student learning configurations, a survey of alumni at a medium-sized business and hospitality college in the Southeast was conducted and it was determined that disruptive student behavior is a major learning constraint. Furthermore, disruptive behavior links to student retention and low achievement data (Seidman, 2005). Disruptive behavior in the elementary grades is also negatively associated with academic performance (Haskins, Waiden, & Ramey, 1983; Spivack & Cianci, 1987; Spivack & Swift, 1975).

Specific problem. The specific problem is that traditional discipline modalities may influence negatively classroom climate and student achievement. In addition to the realization that disruptive behavior hinders classroom productivity, most educators are ill-prepared to handle this problem (Seidman, 2005).

Research questions. The following research questions will guide this mixed methods correlational study to identify the core of the problem and survey for possible solutions:

1. What are the effects of Conscious Discipline®, if any, on classroom climate?

2.What are the effects of Conscious Discipline®, if any, on student achievement?

3.What are the effects of classroom climate, if any, on student achievement?

Conceptual Framework

Identified conceptual framework for study. This proposed study uses a mixed methods approach to test the potential relationship between Conscious Discipline®, classroom climate, and student achievement among kindergarten through second grade enrolled children at an elementary school located in the state of North Carolina. A quantitative method is most appropriate because it seeks to confirm the hypotheses about the phenomena. Second, the method uses highly structured techniques for obtaining information (e.g., archival data). The study includes descriptive characteristics about the research population. Numerical information will be obtained by assignment of numerical values to responses. The quantitative design will be stable from inception to completion, and the study design is subject to statistical assumptions and conditions. A quantitative method uses a homogenous method for accumulating and computing vast quantities of data from many parties. Quantitative approaches are also useful when researchers want standardized measurement of key variables (Creswell, 2003; Creswell, 2005; Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007; Neuman, 2003; Neuman, Plano Clark, Lane, & Roberts, 2004).

In addition, a mixed methods approach is appropriate for studying this research topic because qualitative research allows the researcher to utilize surveys to analyze classroom climate reports, and other archival data relevant to this proposed study, and to classroom climate and student achievement variables (Leedy & Ormrod, 2009). Qualitative research allows for open-ended queries and in-depth probing to uncover additional thoughts or feelings, if any, in regard to Conscious Discipline. The researcher chooses a basic interpretive study, in the form of in-depth interviews (i.e., IDI, one-on-one), as the specific approach to the qualitative component of this study. During interviews, single participants will meet with the researcher for approximately 60 minutes to discuss Conscious Discipline, an increase in student achievement, and an increase in school climate to determine the correlation, if any, between variables (Leedy & Ormrod, 2009).

Studied in this correlational design is the affiliation among Conscious Discipline®, classroom climate, and student achievement. Correlations prove appropriate when trying to forecast and enlighten the association among variables (Neuman, 2003). The correlational design is appropriate because the variables were not manipulated but identified and studied as they occurred in a natural setting (Leedy & Ormrod, 2009). Prior researchers have used correlational designs to test the relationship between classroom climate and student achievement. This study is meant to support prior research discoveries and introduce the third variable, Conscious Discipline®.

Relevant concepts. For this mixed methods correlational study, the following terms will be utilized: a) achievement gap; b) adequate yearly progress (AYP); c) benchmarking; d) brain state model; e) ClassScape; e) Conscious Discipline®; f) comprehension; g) discipline; h) dropout rate; i) Every Student Succeeds Act; j) instructional day; k) No Child Left Behind; l) Race to the Top; m) Seven Powers for Conscious Adults; n) Seven Skills of Discipline; o) school climate; p) student achievement; and q) The School Family™.


The research poses that data collected from this research study may provide educational institutions and school districts with the necessary evidence to improve response to discipline practices and its impact on student achievement and school climate. As data is collected through both quantitative and qualitative means, influential individuals within the field of education will have the knowledge to recruit, retain, and inspire teachers across all content areas to best respond to moments of disciplinary concern, and positively influence student achievement and the overall school climate of the educational setting for which they are a part of.

Study Setting

The population includes six kindergartens through second grade classrooms at an elementary school within the state of North Carolina. Three classrooms are led by teachers who have implemented fully the Conscious Discipline® approach. An equal amount of other kindergarten through second grade students, from neighboring classrooms will be sampled, from the same school, whose teachers are using traditional disciplinary modalities. Assuming a confidence level of 95%, a confidence interval of +/- 5, and a population of approximately 100 students and 10 associated educators.

Accessed in this mixed methods correlational study will be kindergartens through second grade classrooms at a public school setting within the state of North Carolina. Behavioral interventive strategies will differ by specific classrooms within the chosen school. Therefore, the study will limit data collection to only six kindergartens through second grade classrooms that operate in the participating elementary school. Three classrooms will continue to use traditional disciplinary modalities. The other three classrooms will fully implement the principles of Conscious Discipline®. The study will collect archival data on disciplinary infractions, student performance, and school climate from current teachers to provide a detailed look at Conscious Discipline® effectiveness in kindergartens through second grade classrooms in America’s public schools opposed to traditional behavioral responsive practices.

Permissions. The proposed study involves a sample from educators who teach only in grades kindergarten through second grade. Teachers in middle grades or high school will not participate in this study. Data collection is limited to one school within one school district in eastern North Carolina. The proposed school district supports the research topic and hopes to use findings to improve upon current practices about students with exceptional needs. Building level administration for the one identified school further provides permission to collect data, and research participants within the school site chosen will voluntarily contribute through a telephone interview concerning complete confidentiality and non-identifying factors.

Overview of study design. The proposed study design will employ a face-to-face interview. An interview allows teacher participants to appropriately share and clarify their opinions of negative behaviors in the classroom and its impact on student achievement and school climate. Interview questions for the proposed mixed methods correlational study will be developed by the researcher based on a pilot study of four participants. The participants in the pilot study are comprised of two teachers openly against the implementation of a schoolwide behavior intervention curriculum, such as Conscious Discipline®, and two teachers who are openly in favor of the implementation of a schoolwide behavior intervention curriculum, such as Conscious Discipline®. As a result, interview questions will offer valuable data to this mixed methods inquest pursuing the discovery of centralized themes, patterns, and unknown phenomena.

Relevance to study setting. An interview allows teacher participants to appropriately share and clarify their opinions of negative behaviors in the classroom and their impact on student achievement and school climate. In addition, an interview allows teacher participants to appropriately share and clarify their opinions on the implementation of a schoolwide behavior intervention program, such as Conscious Discipline®. The proposed study setting provides for ease of data collection for the researcher. The study setting also allows for the participation of educators across K – 2 grade levels and among the one identifying research site.

Ethics, Bias, and Reliability

Protection of research participants. The researcher commits to keeping all compiled data on a password-protected flash drive, in a locked file cabinet within the researcher’s office where the main entrance lock into the room is only accessible by the researcher. The researcher obligates that this collected data will remain in its identified location for five years. Also, all teachers’ data, who voluntarily agree to participate in this study, will be void of any names or identifying factors to ensure complete confidentiality.

Potential bias reporting and study assumptions. Within the proposed study, there are a few potential underlying assumptions or bias reporting opportunities. One assumption is that the North Carolina grade level appropriate, state standardized tests given in grades K-2, provides a valid representation of student achievement. These assessments are used throughout the state of North Carolina to evaluate academic achievement of student instruction in the public school system. The assessment was designed to support the Common Core Standards and the North Carolina Essential Standards. These assessments are assumed to be reliable and valid. The second assumption is that the content of the Common Core Standards and the North Carolina Essential Standards were covered previous to student assessments under study. Additionally, benchmark assessments were conducted every nine-week instructional period to serve as an measurement gage for the content taught. The third assumption is that all kindergarten through second grade students within the selected classrooms for this research study were provided the opportunity to participate in the Conscious Discipline® approach and elected to take advantage of this prospect which may or may not be a contributing factor to increase student achievement and school climate results. In addition, one final assumption was that the elementary school chosen would be an appropriate geographic and demographic location for this mixed methods correlational study. The elementary school is located in the Onslow County School District in North Carolina and represents a diverse educational setting. Reasoning for the grade level selections was to ensure that the sample population was in the initial stages of public education and participants had been exposed to limited behavioral intervention techniques in response to negative classroom actions. This study used archived data for the students during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years.

Steps to ensure reliability. The researcher seeks to use the test-retest reliability approach with this proposed mixed methods correlational study. Teacher participants will engage with the researcher through an interview of pre-determined questions and responses will be collected. After which, the researcher will conduct another interview with each teacher participant, at least seven days after the first interview. The researcher will employ the same set of interview questions to ensure the same responses, that nothing about their initial explained experience has changed, and that data between two interviews on the topic is highly correlated. Also, the researcher recognizes and considers that achieving the same, or incredibly similar, results based upon slight variations of the interview questions establishes strong reliability, and the elimination of systematic difference between individual and group teacher participants (Gay & Airasian, 2000).


Negative student behaviors have an impact on classroom climate and student achievement. Students who do not develop positive forms of addressing their behavior limit their abilities to interact and stifle the potential for future success. Many schools desire a structured and innovative way to address the behavioral needs of the students to increase academic performance and reported school climate. A correlation between classroom climate and student achievement is regularly reported in research studies. The insertion of Conscious Discipline® may syndicate the variables successfully. The researcher will use a mixed methods study with a correlational design to examine the research questions outlined within this study. The study obtained recorded archival data throughout the research process. Analyzing data from this tool could help educators identify a strategy to increase classroom climate and students achievement.


This mixed methods correlational study is not without limitations. One limitation to the study is the transient nature of the student population in the Onslow County School District. Onslow County houses two major military bases: Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base and Camp Geiger Air Station. Families are frequently relocated to other bases across the country and oversees. Because of this fluctuation, students who did not attend during the years from which data was collected will be eliminated from the study. This guarantees the consistency and standardization of the Conscious Discipline® curriculum presented.


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