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Comparison between CRE Program Models:

Harris, Peggy (1999). Teaching conflict resolution skills to children: A comparison between a curriculum based and a modified peer mediation program. Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A, 59 (9-A), 3397.

This study compared the effectiveness of two approaches to CRE: peer mediation and a curriculum-based program (Second Step). Two fourth grade and one third grade class were randomly assigned to conditions. A remaining third grade class acted as a control group. Teachers delivered lessons over a semester. The study revealed no significant differences between groups.

Jones, Tricia S., Jones, T. S., Bodtker, A., Jameson, J., Kusztal, I., Vegso, B., & Kmitta, D. (1997). Preliminary Final Report of the Comprehensive Peer Mediation Evaluation Project. Report for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University, College of Allied Health Professions.

Twenty-seven schools in three communities (Philadelphia, Laredo, Denver) participated in the project. In each community a 3 x 3 field experiment compared program models (peer mediation only or cadre programs, peer mediation plus or whole school programs, and control schools) in each of three educational levels (elementary, middle, high school). In each community, respected training organizations provided training and helped schools implement the programs. The training organizations were Good Shepherd Mediation Program in Philadelphia, Associates in Mediation in Laredo, and Colorado School Mediation Project in the Denver area.

This study was guided by six research questions. (1) Does peer mediation impact students' conflict attitudes and behavior? What is the short-term and long-term impact on: how frequently they are involved in conflict, how frequently they help others who are in conflict, their values about pro-social behavior in general, their conflict styles, their tendency toward aggressive behavior, their development of perspective-taking and collaborative conflict orientations, or their ability to demonstrate or enact the skills taught in training? (2) Does peer mediation impact school climate? Is there a change in school climate related to the existence of the program? What is the impact on climate in terms of: teachers' and staff's perceptions of school climate, students' perceptions of school climate, or general rates of suspension and incidents of violence? (3) Do peer mediation programs effectively handle disputes? What do we know about the use of mediation in terms of: how many cases use mediation, what types of disputes are involved, that refers disputes to mediation, what is the agreement/settlement rate, or how satisfied the mediators and disputants are with the mediation process and outcome? (4) Are cadre programs better than whole school programs (or vice versa)? In terms of impact on students' attitudes and behaviors, school climate, and program utility, is there a difference in the efficacy of these program models? (5) Are peer mediation programs equally effective (or ineffective) for elementary, middle and high schools? In terms of impact on students' attitudes and behaviors, school climate, and program utility, is there a difference in program efficacy at different educational levels? (6) Is gender or race/ethnicity of students related to the impact of peer mediation programs? Are programs more or less impacting depending upon the race or gender of the students involved?

A 3 x 3 field experiment (program models x educational level) was conducted in each of the three sites. All peer mediation schools (cadre and whole school) received peer mediation training and program implementation in the beginning of fall semester of each year. Schools receiving whole school programs had curricular infusion training and conflict skills training by the end of fall semester.

The CPMEP project involved 27 schools with an approximate total student population of 26,000, an approximate total teacher population of 1500, and an approximate total staff population of 1700. Exhaustive sampling was used for peer mediators, students in conflict training, and teachers. Sampling of control students was done by random selection of classes for ease in data administration. In control schools and for within-school control classes in treatment schools 1 class per grade was randomly selected from elementary schools and 2 classes per grade were randomly selected from middle and high schools.

The actual sample used in this study consisted of multiple responses from each of the following (approximate numbers used): For elementary schools: 140 peer mediators, 1300 control students, 400 conflict training students, and 275 teachers/ administrative staff. For middle schools: 140 peer mediators, 1600 control students, 550 conflict training students, and 400 teachers/administrative staff. For high schools: 150 peer mediators, 2500 control students, 450 conflict training students, and 550 teachers/ administrative staff. Thus, the overall sample consisted of: 430 peer mediators, 5400 control students, 1400 conflict training students, and 1225 teachers/ administrative staff.

The data from the CPMEP study reveals that peer mediation programs provide significant benefit in developing constructive social and conflict behavior in children at all educational levels. It is clear that exposure to peer mediation programs, whether cadre or whole school, has a significant and lasting impact on students' conflict attitudes and behaviors. Students who are direct recipients of program training have the most impact, however, students without direct training also benefit. The data clearly demonstrate that exposure to peer mediation reduces personal conflict and increases the tendency to help others with conflicts, increases pro-social values, decreases aggressiveness, and increases perspective-taking and conflict competence. Especially for peer mediators, these impacts are significant, cumulative, and are sustained for long periods. Students trained in mediation, at all educational levels, are able to enact and utilize the behavioral skills taught in training. The CPMEP results prove that peer mediation programs can significantly improve school climate. Peer mediation programs had a significant and sustained impact on teacher and staff perceptions of school climate for both cadre and whole school programs and in all educational levels. This effect was evident across the two years of the project.