School Discipline
School Discipline

On September 7-9, 2014 AERA and the American Institutes for Research (AIR) held a research conference on “Schools, Rules, and Socialization Effects for Students” at the AERA headquarters in Washington, D.C. The conference brought together over 20 accomplished scholars whose research interests span education research, criminal justice, human development, sociology, and psychology. The aim of this initiative is to map and integrate scientific work across fields and to provide direction and focus for future research.

Through plenaries and break-out sessions, participants engaged in in-depth discussions about how school settings affect students’ attitudes, behaviors, life chances, and social emotional learning through a set of formal and informal rules, patterns, and practices.

Participants explored the current state of knowledge in these areas, discussed theoretical and methodological approaches used to address these topics, and identified critical gaps in the research and ways in which promising research from one domain might inform research in another. By design, the conference explicitly sought to create space for discussion and analyses of issues that would move beyond the knowledge accumulated in a specific field or area of inquiry.

Executive Director Felice J. Levine noted, “By thinking outside their own field of expertise, participants were able to develop broader critiques of the existing research and identify important gaps in our knowledge base.”

David Osher, AIR Vice President and AIR Institute Fellow added, “This initiative, and the rich discussions that took place at the conference, will enhance our understanding of the vital role of schools in this area and enable us to better serve students and study the impacts that schools have on students socialization and behavior.” 

The conference agenda included sessions focused on:

  • Schools as punitive, stressful, or supportive spaces,
  • School roles in risk reduction and building resistance,
  • Schools and the learning of social behaviors and identities,
  • Schools and students’ life chances
  • Schools and the production of equality and inequality,
  • Schools in their family, neighborhood, and community contexts,
  • Interventions and evaluations that matter, and
  • Methodological, measurement and database needs.

The conference was planned and co-chaired by Levine and Osher

AERA and AIR will hold a special symposium on the topic at the 

2015 AERA Annual Meeting, and will release a report in fall 2015. The report will include an agenda for future research, based on the conference discussions, current research, and scholarly input.  

Front Row (L to R): Edward Seidman, New York University; John L. Hagan, Northwestern University; Robert Jagers, University of Michigan; Arvin Bhana, University of KwaZulu-Natal; Kathryn R. Wentzel, University of Maryland; Howard C. Stevenson, University of Pennsylvania; Roxane Cohen Silver, University of California, Irvine 

Middle Row (L to R): Allison Dymnicki, American Institutes for Research; Nathan Bell, AERA; Dorothy L. Espelage, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Felice J. Levine, AERA Executive Director; Barbara Schneider, Michigan State University; Russell J. Skiba, Indiana University; Nancy López, University of New Mexico; Judith Torney-Purta, University of Maryland; Ruth D. Peterson, The Ohio State University

Back Row (L to R): Ellen S. Cohn, University of New Hampshire; Ross L. Matsueda, University of Washington; David Osher, American Institutes for Research; Anne Gregory, Rutgers University; Mark Garibaldi, American Institutes for Research; David S. Kirk, University of Texas at Austin