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The effects of participation of school children as mediators in contrast to non-mediators in a mentored mediation program as related to academic achievement, developmental disposition, and conflict orientation.

O’Farrell, Eimear M.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2010) Dissertation. Doctorate in Education. California State University.

This study focused on the effects of elementary students’ participation in a
mentored peer mediation program during a school year as it related to three
variables, academic achievement, developmental disposition, and conflict
orientation. Phase I, academic achievement, focused on the relationship between
participation in this program and academic performance on the California STAR
tests in English Language Arts. Archival data from approximately 1,180 upper
grade students in seven elementary schools were studied to examine this
relationship.Phase II, the developmental disposition component, aimed at gaining an
understanding of the multidimensional nature of empathy. It focused on the
cognitive responses of individuals, as well as the emotional facets of perspective
taking as students engaged in mediator experiences. The instrument used to assess
this component was the Davis Scales of Interpersonal Reactivity Index, which
measured separate aspects of empathic reaction. Conflict Orientation was
measured using a free-response questionnaire, providing a qualitative data
component. Two hundred ninety seven upper grade students at five elementary
schools participated in the dispositional and conflict orientation components. Four school districts with diverse socioeconomic, demographic, and ethnic
representation were included in the study.
Phase I data indicated that grade 5 was a critical year in the mentored
mediation program, impacting academic achievement at a significantly greater
level than the two other upper grade levels. The data suggested that grade 5
students may have benefited from two years of participation as mediators before
realizing academic gains. Decreases in sixth grade participation due to attrition led
to diminished representation of mediators. This perhaps accounted for the
minimal academic gains evidenced at that grade level. Phase II data provided evidence that students demonstrated higher levels of
developmental disposition and positive orientation toward conflict management
when participating as mediation facilitators than when participating as nonmediator
disputants. Mediators tended to implement effective conflict resolution
skills, while non-mediators sought out peer mediators to resolve conflicts.
It is hoped that the results of this study will contribute to the sustainability
of mentored peer mediation programs in schools, by providing a clearer
understanding of the interconnections among academic achievement,
developmental disposition, and conflict orientation. (author’s abstract)


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