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«Behavioral Dissonance and Contested Classroom Spaces: Teachers’ and Students’ Negotiations of Classroom Disciplinary Moments by Rebecca Neal A ...»

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Behavioral Dissonance and Contested Classroom Spaces:

Teachers’ and Students’ Negotiations of Classroom Disciplinary Moments


Rebecca Neal

A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Approved April 2014 by the

Graduate Supervisory Committee:

Alfredo J. Artiles, Chair

Tyrone Howard

Sarup R. Mathur

Elizabeth B. Swadener


May 2014 ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to answer the following question, How does one’s conceptualizations of misbehavior account for the way classroom misbehavior is constructed, interpreted, and negotiated between teachers and students? The literature on school disciplinary inequities from 2000 to 2010 was systematically reviewed. Utilizing qualitative research methods, this study drew insights from sociocultural theory and symbolic interactionism to investigate discipline inequities in moment-to-moment interactions between students and teachers during classroom conflicts. Fieldwork lasted approximately one school year and involved five male students and their two respective teachers. Data collection procedures included surveys, face to face and stimulated recall interviews, and direct and video observations. Findings revealed misbehavior is a ubiquitous notion in classroom everyday life; it is also malleable and dependent on contextual factors. In addition, classroom disciplinary moments between teachers and students are greatly influenced by intra and interpersonal factors. The situated intricacies and sophistication of teachers’ and students’ interpretations of negotiated classroom disciplinary moments are also reported. This study also sheds new insights into the situated nature of misbehavior as it arises from teachers’ and students’ sense making of classroom disciplinary moments and the findings have implications for teachers, school administrators, policy makers, students, and parents/guardians.

ii DEDICATION To my grandparent, aunts, and uncles who have departed this earth, I dedicate my dissertation in honor and in loving memory of you: Rebecca Turner, Hamp Neal, Mathew Williams, Momma Ducie, Bishop, Reuben, Cecil, Earsel, Mattie, Odessa, and Rutha.

To those I have known and God also took home, I also dedicate my dissertation to you: Leroy Thomas, Howard Porter, Reverend Sligh, Stanley Sandifer, and Hugh and Phyliss Schuck. Most importantly, to my father, Roger W. Neal, Sr., whose spirit visits me in my dreams and while I am awake; I dedicate the sweat and tears of all my joys and sadness of completing this dissertation to you, Dad. This lifetime achievement is for you.

Mom, I love you and the labor of my dissertation is dedicated to you. To my brother Aaron, I love you and also dedicate this dissertation to you. I also dedicate this dissertation to Dianne Binns, Mary Neal, Mary Sandifer, Penny, Rev. Thomas, my aunts, uncles (especially Larry), cousins, nieces, nephews, brothers, and sister.

To my blessed cousin, Maria, I dedicate this dissertation to you. During this process while I felt overwhelmed and as if I were drowning in the process, it was you who became my self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. Without you, I would not have made it. To Clifford Ray whom I love, I also dedicate this dissertation to you.

To my second set of parents, Mr. and Mrs. Cheryl and John Allen, I dedicate this dissertation to you. To my Godchildren, Kamar, Kobey, Miccala, and Tristen, I love each of you and also dedicate this dissertation to you. To Xavier, baby Stephanie, and her sister Maddie, I love you very much and this dissertation is also dedicated to you.

Finally, I dedicate this dissertation to people who had the desire to attend school, but for whatever reasons did not or were denied the opportunity.

–  –  –

First and foremost, I want to thank my family and friends for your support. I would also like to thank my dissertation chair, Alfredo Artiles, for your unending support and dedication. Of course, I have to thank my committee members, Tyrone Howard, Sarup Mather, and Elizabeth “Beth” Blue Swadener for your guidance along the way.

Elizabeth Kozleski, I thank you for the life lessons learned and appreciate your encouragement. Each of you has made the work that I do better.

A special thank you to Dr. Dean and Ms. Nelson. You both paved the way for me.

Dan Battey, Karlyn, and Luis, we make a great team. I especially thank you, Dan, for all of the wonderful opportunities over the years. I would also like to thank Caroline Tuner for shared insights and mentoring. I would also like to thank Aydin, the Equity Alliance team members, old and new, with special thanks to David, Taucia, Kathleen, Seena, Amanda, and Federico. In addition, I would like to thank the Sociocultural Research Group and my “graduation-or-bust” friends and colleagues. Cean, I am moved by your commitment to the pursuit of excellence. In the words of my friend, Kim, “We Rock.” A big thanks to you Lacey for leading the way and being a champion to us all. Adama and Carol S., I too am inspired by you. To Nick, Joy, Haesung, Mohamed, Daniel, Stuart, Adai, and Melanie thank you for helping to develop my ideas and sharing your intellectual insights with me. To my Bryn Mawr family: Barb, Carol Q., Donna, Thitya, Fran, and Jessica, we started out as colleagues, became friends, and are now sisters.

Matt and Madison, you are both awesome and special to me. Thank you to my friends, Wyetta and Linda; You both saw me through. Jodi, were an expected blessing and Godsend. To Jane Fesler, you inspire me and I thank you for being you.

–  –  –

you for visiting me and reminding me along the way, I can do it. I will forever cherish our friendship. Thank you, Dr. Ewbank, for your kind ways and support. Thank you to all of the departmental and Hayden Library staff who helped to answer my questions and always willing to lend a helping hand. Thank you to Sarah for staying on top of things and keeping everyone organized.

Dr. Patton, thank you for believing in me and creating opportunities for me. You have truly been a friend and mentor. Dr. Waegerle, whom I affectionately call Dr. Mom, this is for you. Dr. Haysbert, your voice still rings true in my head, and I rely on life and educational lessons taught by you.

Thank you to my cousins, Cathy and Ross, for your love and prayers. Fountain of Life Church and the Women’s Tuesday Night Bible Study, you have truly been my lifeline during this process. Thank you, Camphor Church, for your prayers and cards sent to me. To Rev. Campbell and Dr. Crutchfield, I thank you reminding me that all things are possible. To the entire Papacek family, I say thank you for your love. Keenan, thank you for all of the kindness you extended toward me.

To my friend Buff, knowing you and relying on your inspirational words got me through. To my friend who I affectionately call King, our long conversations served me well, and I thank you for looking after me. It was your caring ways, knowledge, and insights that helped me to understand that I can do this. I now run with stallions because of you. To my friend, Amy (and Pat), who has been one of my strongest cheerleaders and closest friends, thank you. To my friend Jeni, thank you for sharing your insights and taking time to help me talk through my ideas. To my friend Susan, thank you.

–  –  –

phone calls. Knowing both of you makes me a better person. Jason, your assistance and support along the way was appreciated and for that I say thank you. Jeffrey and Asher, I thank you for the good times shared. Cousin Mike, you helped me when I did not know what to do; and for that I say thank you. To the Arizona Neal family, thank you for your support and great family gatherings.

To all of my fellow Hamptonians, the 36 Woodland crew (Deanna, Tremane, and Nikki), Kira, Ronnie, Carolyn, Courtney, Chris, Jerry, Shawn, and Leon: I love you and thank you for your friendship. To Mike and Michelle, I miss you, and thank you for the years of friendship. Sherrie (and Tony), I finally finished.

To my cousins, Wilma, Anita, and Joyce, we did it! I love you all so much and thank you for your unselfish love. To my cousin Rob, I thank you for taking care of my cousins, so they could take care of me. Maria, again, you have been my rock, and without you, I would not have made it. Thank you for everything. Scott, we finally got it together – In God’s time, not ours. Thank you for your support, commitment, and love.

Katrina, Percy, and Xavier, we did it. Thank you for opening your home and hearts to me. I am truly blessed to have you in my life and thank God for you.

Clifford, I thank God for you. I appreciate your guidance and for being my surrogate father. I love you much.

To my grandmother Maryann, mother, Fern and brother, Aaron, I share this accomplishment with you. You have stood by me and supported me my entire life. Thank you for the sacrifices that you have made unending support and loving me as I am.

To all of my unsung heroes and names who I have not mentioned, Thank You!

–  –  –




Defining School Discipline

Consequences of Discipline Inequities

Explanations of Discipline Inequities

Cultural Differences: Spaces for Misunderstandings

–  –  –

Purpose of the Study and Research Question

2 LITERATURE REVIEW AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK.................. 22 Literature Review Search Methods

Results of Review

Foci and Features of Research Studies

Foci of Discipline Inequities Research

–  –  –

Explanations for Discipline Inequities

Cultural Deficit Perspective

–  –  –

Institutional Factors

Summary of Explanations for Disciplinary Inequities

Conceptual Framework

Research Question


Research Design

Study Context: Intelligently Designed Academy

Site Access


–  –  –


Data Collection Procedures and Sources

–  –  –

Data Analysis Procedures








–  –  –

Overview of the Stituated Nature of Misbehavior and the Development of Classroom Disciplinary Moments

Deriving Meaning: An Outline of Interpretative Process

Teachers’ and Students’ Conceptualizations of Misbehavior

Teachers’ and Students’ Negotiations of Classrooms Disciplinary Moments

Externalized Student Behavior

Student Intentionality

Teacher versus Student Fault

–  –  –

Immediate Reactions

The Progression of Classroom Disciplinary Moments

Classroom Disciplinary Moments: Exchanges, Episodes, and Events





–  –  –

Summary of Teachers’ and Students’ Understandings of Misbehavior and Classroom Disciplinary Moments


The Situated Nature of Misbehavior

–  –  –

Disciplinary Moments?

Recommendations for Future Research

Limitations of the Study

Implications for Studying Classroom Disciplinary Moments



–  –  –



–  –  –





–  –  –

1. Review of School Discipline Literature by Journal Field

2. Focus of Discipline Inequity Research Studies by Year

3. Research Studies on Discipline Inequities by Methodology

4. Quantitative Data Analysis Procedures by Year and Author

5. Discipline Studies by Geographic Region and Research Method.............37

6. Discipline Studies by Analytical Level and Research Method..................39

7. Target Population

8. Inquiry-guided Data Collection

9. Data Analysis Procedures

10. Teachers’ and Students’ Mental Organization of Classroom Disciplinary Moments

11. Externalized Student Behavior (Launching): Symbols and Significations

12. Student Intentionality (Interpretation): Symbols and Significations.......130

13. Fault (Coding): Symbols and Significations

14. Trouble, Interventions, and Confrontations (Public Recognition):

Symbols and Significations

15. Punishments and Consequences (Sanction): Symbols and Significations

16. Student Immediate Reactions (Closure): Symbols and Significations....156

17. Teacher Immediate Reactions (Closure): Symbols and Significations....157

–  –  –

18. Byron and Jonathan Event with Ms. Esther

19. Progression of Negotiated Classroom Disciplinary Moments, by Person

20. Phases 1-2: Launching and Interpretation

21. Phase 3: Coding

22. Phase 4: Public Recognition

23. Phase 5: Sanction

24. Phase 6: Closure

–  –  –

1. Frequency of Discipline Inequity Studies by Year and Research Methods

2. Conceptual Framework

3. Diagram of Intelligently Designed Academy

4. Logic Model for Understanding Classroom Disciplinary Moments........106

5. Internal Interpretative Meaning-making Process

6. Cookie’s Internal Interpretative Process of Symbol

7. Mr. Abrahm’s Internal Interpretative Process of Byron

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