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Organizational problem-solving and school discipline: comparing the roles of schoolwide behavior management technologies

Vincent Cho (Educational Leadership and Higher Education, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA)
Katrina Borowiec (Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics and Assessment, Lynch School of Education, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA)
Kaitlyn F. Tuthill (Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics and Assessment, Lynch School of Education, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 24 February 2021

Issue publication date: 2 June 2021

438

Abstract

Purpose

Applications for tracking and managing classroom behavior have become increasingly commonplace, thus making it possible to incorporate nonacademic data into collaborative problem-solving and school improvement. Whether or how these platforms might support such aims, however, is not known. Accordingly, this study explores practices involving these applications, focusing especially on problem-solving among educators and with students' families.

Design/methodology/approach

This comparative case study took place in three schools. In total, 34 semistructured interviews were conducted with teachers and school leaders. Analysis included qualitative coding as well as the development of within- and cross-case summaries.

Findings

Schools varied greatly when it came to using behavior management platforms as a part of problem-solving. At a basic level, it was not uncommon for educators to use behavioral data for classroom troubleshooting or check-ins with students and transactional communications with families. However, only two schools attempted to use behavioral data for more systemic, “big picture” problem-solving, such as to make discipline policies more equitable or to improve teacher practices. The richness of collaboration with families seemed especially shaped by how and how frequently data were shared (e.g. automated notifications and paper printouts).

Originality/value

Empirical research about behavior management applications has been limited and focused only at the classroom level. The present study contributes new knowledge about the school-level implications of these platforms, while also expanding conversations about how behavioral data may be incorporated into data-informed problem-solving. Implications for leadership and theory are also discussed.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the efforts and intellectual generosity of the anonymous reviewers.

Citation

Cho, V., Borowiec, K. and Tuthill, K.F. (2021), "Organizational problem-solving and school discipline: comparing the roles of schoolwide behavior management technologies", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 59 No. 3, pp. 302-317. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEA-10-2020-0229

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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