Monday, April 19, 2010

Project WIN Evaluation Shows Decreased Violence and Improved Conflict Resolution Skills for Middle School Students

Roberts, L. Yeomans, P. and Ferro-Almeida, S. (2007). Project WIN Evaluation Shows Decreased Violence and Improved Conflict Resolution Skills for Middle School Students. RMLE Online, 30(8), 1-14.


Laura Roberts, Peter Yeomans, and Susan Ferro-Almeida wrote an article entitled Project WIN Evaluation Shows Decreased Violence and Improved Conflict Resolution Skills for Middle School Students. They believed that a good way to develop a positive school culture is by implementing a conflict resolution program. They chose to pilot Project WIN (Working out Integrated Negotiations) in a low-income, urban middle school in southern Pennsylvania. I understand that I am a kindergarten teacher and will be implementing a conflict resolution program in that grade but I wanted to see if the principles of this article will be transferable to my own research. The authors felt that an individual has two main concerns when faced with a conflict: reaching one’s goal and maintaining a relationship with the opponent (Johnson, 1991; Johnson & Johnson, 1997).

The strategies taught in Project WIN are:

Listening Skills

Anger Management

Using “I” messages to assert one’s feelings during a conflict situation

Expressing one’s needs in a conflict situation

Generating solutions that meet one’s own needs and the needs of the opponent

To correspond with the strategies in Project WIN the researchers of this article used the principles of self-respect, caring for others, thinking before reacting, seeking a nonviolent solution, and expecting the best for transforming power and teaching conflict resolution.

What I really enjoyed bout this article was the authors gave examples and real-life scenarios that the students could relate to. The students were able to envision themselves in similar situations and therefore answer the interview questions realistically. I will be able to use almost identical questions with my kindergartners. My students could relate to the questions in this study. I loved the idea of transforming power and using I statements instead of you messages. It is much more reflective and keeps accusatory language neutral.

“The results showed Project WIN was effective at reducing violence at the target school. Reported violence dropped to zero during the year Project WIN was implemented. There were no violent incidents, assaults, arrests, or suspensions reported during the implementation year. In comparison, another school matched for size, ethnicity, and SES showed steady increases in reported violence over the same time period. We can infer that the students’ use of the skills taught in Project WIN caused the drop in reported violence. We expected to see a drop in reported violence for the target class. We were surprised to see a school-wide effect. These findings do make sense, however, given that our intervention was based on the social interdependence theory. It is reasonable to conclude that students in the target class taught their skills, by modeling to others at the school during the social time spent together (e.g., lunch period, playground, walking to and from school). We believe that once a critical mass starts to use Project WIN skills, transforming power takes effect, and violence drops.” (11) Their findings are incredible and very promising. If I am able to create a conflict resolution program in my class that supports a peaceful class culture, I might be able to have a positive affect on the whole school culture.


“Social interdependence theory posits that ideal conditions for constructive conflict resolution exist when (a) there is a cooperative environment and (b) the disputants are skilled in negotiation strategies.” (2)

“In 1960, Larry Apsey described a theoretical aptitude called transforming power, which, he asserted, could help people transform violent, competitive, destructive situations into constructive, cooperative ones. Apsey claimed transforming power was a mystical construct, with a locus of control that transcended human will... Upon close inspection of Apsey’s writing, we found that transforming power included compassion, empathy, and optimism. Therefore, these were the components we sought to teach students with the goal of helping them cultivate a more cooperative classroom environment. We taught students that each of them had access to transforming power and could develop it by adopting certain attitudes and values.” (2)

“Our research revealed that successful programs used interactive teaching methods that incorporated behavioral and social skills training (Dishion, 2004; Elliott, 2004). In contrast, the following types of programs have been found to be ineffective and, in fact, make violence problems worse: programs that utilize scare tactics, “tough love,” and adults lecturing at students (Dishion; “Get Tough,” 2004).” (2)

“Key to our success will be our effective communication with visionary people in local communities. There is a wise proverb about seeking out and finding those with vision. An ordinary person looks at a stone and sees only a simple stone. A craftsperson observes a stone and sees more. He or she sets eyes on the stone and thinks, “I could find more of these stones, put them together with mortar and build a wall.” An architect, a designer, has even greater vision. In that small stone an architect sees an entire building, a church or a school, a place of higher purpose. The visionaries among us see the higher purpose of all small things. We hope our work in conflict resolution will inspire the visionaries in many towns and cities across the country to see the higher purpose of this one small stone as we build safer schools and safer communities for our children’s future.” (13)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! Taylor, this is a great example of interacting with the literature. I like that you pulled out the main points and then reflected on how this work informed not only how you think about designing a conflict resolution program, but how you can use similar questions to collect data from your own kids. Bravo!

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