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Program Profile: Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers

Evidence Rating: Promising - More than one study Promising - More than one study

Date: This profile was posted on December 30, 2013

Program Summary

A school-based conflict resolution program aimed at teaching students to manage their conflicts through negotiation and mediation. The Program is rated Promising. Across all three studies, the program was found to increase students’ conflict resolution skills through their ability to practice both negotiation and mediation strategies.

Program Description

Program Goals
Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers is a school-based conflict resolution program aimed at teaching students to manage their conflicts through negotiation and mediation, the core skills taught in the program. In an effort to teach students constructive ways to resolve their conflicts, the program seeks to reduce the occurrence of violence in schools, enhance academic achievement, and promote the importance of mutual understanding and agreement among one another.

Program Theory
Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers is based on the conflict resolution theory, which recognizes that conflicts are an essential and natural part of society. Conflicts aid in both social and cognitive development; however, there are effective and ineffective ways in which conflicts can be managed. For an individual to resolve a conflict, he or she must be able to take into account their own interests, as well as the interests of others. The individual must learn to negotiate with others so that a collective agreement between all parties involved can be reached. Understanding the importance of conflict resolution and the steps necessary to resolve conflict, Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers seeks to teach these conflict resolution skills to elementary, middle, and high school students. 

Program Components
Given its preventative aim, the Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers program concentrates on teaching students how to value constructive conflict, engage in problem-solving and integrative negotiations, and mediate classmates’ conflicts. Mediation is defined as the process by which an outside party assists the conflicting parties in negotiating an integrative resolution, whereas negotiation is known as the process by which conflicting parties want to work together to reach an agreement.

The program teaches students conflict resolution through mediation and negotiation in three parts. The first part of the training teaches students about conflicts, emphasizing that conflicts are inevitable, and if handled appropriately can aid in personal development and have desirable outcomes. The second part of the training teaches students how to negotiate, while the third part of the training teaches students how to mediate. The negotiation portion of the training consists of six steps:

  • jointly describing what you want
  • jointly describing how you feel
  • expressing the reasons for these wants and feelings
  • reversing perspectives and communicating your understanding of the other person’s wants and feelings
  • developing at least three optional mutual agreements
  • reaching an integrative agreement

The mediation portion of the training consists of four steps in which students can help their classmates mediate conflicts:

  • ending hostilities
  • ensuring all parties are committed to the mediation
  • aiding in the negotiation process
  • formalizing an agreement

Following the conflict resolution training, the peer mediation portion of the program is implemented. It is during this portion of the program that students are given the ability to serve as mediators.

Each day the teacher selects two different students to function as the class mediator. The mediator role is rotated throughout the class so that each student has the ability to serve as a mediator. The mediators use the conflict resolution skills they were taught during the three-step process. The mediators are recognizable as they wear mediator T-shirts, and seek to mediate all conflicts that occur in both the classroom and throughout the school grounds (i.e., the lunchroom and playground).

The initial conflict resolution training usually requires 10–20 hours of training and is typically spread across several weeks of classroom instruction. The conflict resolution training is revisited throughout the school year to continue enhancing the students’ conflict resolutions skills as they function as class mediators.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Across all three studies, the Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers program was found to increase students’ conflict resolution skills through their ability to practice both negotiation and mediation strategies. 

Study 1
Conflict Strategy: Withdrawing
Johnson and colleagues (1995) found that after the Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers training, the use of withdrawal to resolve a conflict decreased for students in the treatment groups as compared to students in the control group, although this finding was not significant.        

Conflict Strategy: Forcing
The use of force to resolve a conflict significantly decreased for students in the treatment groups as compared to students in the control group. 

Conflict Strategy: Smoothing
The use of smoothing to resolve a conflict decreased for students in the treatment groups as compared to students in the control group, although this finding was not significant. 

Conflict Strategy: Compromising
The use of compromising to resolve a conflict significantly decreased for students in the treatment groups as compared to students in the control group. 

Conflict Strategy: Negotiating  
The use of negotiation to resolve a conflict significantly increased for the students in the treatment group as compared to students in the control group. 

Study 2
Conflict Management Scale (Computer Conflict)
Stevahn and colleagues (2000) found that after the Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers training, students in the treatment group used significantly more constructive strategies to resolve the computer conflict scenario as compared to students in the control group. 

Conflict Strategies Theory Scale (Computer Conflict)  
Students in the treatment group used significantly more constructive strategies to resolve the computer conflict scenario than the students in the control group. 

Negotiation Steps (Computer Conflict)
Thirty-seven percent of students in the treatment group used one or more steps of the negotiation procedure as compared to 0 percent of the students in the control group (the mean score for the control group was 0, therefore a t-test on the comparison between the groups was not conducted). 

Mediation Constructiveness Scale (Cutting in Line)
Students in the treatment group used significantly more constructive interventions to help others resolve the cutting-in-line conflict scenario than the students in the control group.           

Mediation Conflict Strategies Scale (Cutting in Line)
Students in the treatment group used significantly more constructive intervention strategies to help others resolve the cutting-in-line conflict scenario than the students in the control group.           

Mediation Steps (Cutting in Line)                    
Students in the treatment group used significantly more mediation steps to help others resolve the cutting-in-line conflict scenario than the students in the control group. 

Study 3
Strategy Constructiveness Scale (Computer Conflict)
Stevahn and colleagues (2002) found that after the Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers training, students in the treatment group used significantly more constructive strategies to resolve the computer conflict scenario than the students in the control group.           

Conflict Strategies Theory Scale (Computer Conflict)
Students in the treatment group used significantly more constructive strategies to resolve the computer conflict scenario than the students in the control group.           

Negotiation Steps (Computer Conflict)
Students in the treatment group used significantly more steps of the negotiation procedure, with an average of four steps, as compared to the students in the control group who used none.           

Intervention Constructiveness Scale (Cutting in Line)
Students in the treatment group used significantly more constructive interventions strategies to help others resolve the cutting-in-line conflict scenario than the students in the control group.           

Mediation Strategies Theory Scale (Cutting in Line)    
Students in the treatment group used significantly more mediation strategies to resolve the cutting-in-line conflict scenario than the students in the control group. 

Mediation Steps (Cutting in Line)        
Students in the treatment group used significantly more steps of the peer mediation procedure, with an average of one step, as compared to the students in the control group who used none.

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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Johnson and colleagues (1995) conducted a quasiexperimental study to examine the effects of the Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers training on the type of conflict resolution strategies used by elementary and middle school-aged students in a middle-class, Midwestern, suburban school. Six classes were randomly selected as the treatment group from a pool of 22 teachers interested in implementing the program. The treatment group contained a total of 144 students from the second through fifth grades. Three classrooms that did not receive the training served as the control group. The control group contained 83 students from the third through fifth grades. There were no demographic characteristics of the student participants provided in the study except for gender (49 percent of the experimental group was male compared to 46 percent of the control group).

Data was collected weekly between December 1991 and May 1992 using a “conflict reporting form,” which was disseminated and collected by classroom teachers. Students were asked weekly to remember a conflict they were involved in and complete the form, which asked questions on who was involved in the conflict, what the conflict was about, what strategies were used to try to resolve the conflict, and the solution to the conflict.  

Study outcomes included types of conflict, strategies used to resolve conflict, the resulting solutions, and the conflict settings. Strategies used to resolve conflict were categorized by the conflict strategies theory (Johnson and Johnson 1991; Johnson and Johnson 1994) which assumes that participants in a conflict are concerned with achieving their goal and maintaining a good relationship with the other person. The strategies were placed on a continuum of 0 to 12, from most destructive (such as physical and verbal aggression) to most constructive (such as proposing alternatives and negotiating).

Study 2
Stevahn and colleagues (2000) conducted a randomized control study to evaluate the effects of the Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers training on willingness and ability to apply negotiation procedures, as well as the willingness and ability to help others use integrative negotiation to conflict situations in school. The study sample included 80 kindergartners from four classes in a suburban public elementary school in Edina, Minn. Students were randomly assigned to either the treatment group (n=39), which received the Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers training as an integrated component of a 4-week curriculum unit on friendship, or the control group (n=41), which received the same 4-week curriculum unit on friendship without the integrated training component. There were no demographic characteristics of the student participants provided in the study except for gender (51 percent of the experimental group was male compared to 68 percent of the control group).

The students were interviewed before and after the 4-week study period which began in February 1997. Willingness and ability to apply negotiation procedures was assessed using the Negotiation Conflict Scenario interview. During the Negotiation Conflict Scenario interview, each student was read a brief scenario about the child wanting to use a classroom computer but being blocked from doing so by a classmate, and then was asked to explain what he or she would do to resolve the conflict. Responses were categorized with the Conflict Management Scale, the Conflict Strategies Theory Scale, and scores for the presence of the six steps of the integrative negotiation procedure. Willingness and ability to help others use integrative negotiation was assessed using the Mediation Conflict Scenario interview. During the Mediation Conflict Scenario interview, each student was read a brief scenario about watching two students in line for the bus argue over their place in line (one student thought the other cut in front), and then was asked to explain what he or she would do to help the two students solve their conflict. Responses were categorized with the Mediation Constructiveness Scale (adapted from the Conflict Management Scale), the Mediation Conflict Strategies Theory Scale (adapted from the Conflict Strategies Theory Scale), and scores for the presence of the steps in the mediation process of the training.

Data was analyzed using unpaired t-tests to examine the differences between the experimental (trained) and control (untrained) conditions.

Study 3
Stevahn and colleagues (2002) also conducted a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of the Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers program on conflict resolution and peer mediation skills. The study included 92 ninth-grade students in four World Civilization social studies classes in a suburban high school in California. Two of the four classes were randomly assigned to the experimental condition (n=47), which received the conflict resolution and peer mediation training, and the other two classes were randomly assigned to the control condition (n=45), which did not receive the training. There were no demographic characteristics of the student participants provided in the study except for gender (51 percent of the experimental group was male compared to 40 percent of the control group).

The study was conducted in the spring of 1996. Posttest measures were collected from students 3 weeks after the program had ended and again the following school year, 7 months after the program had ended. There were a number of measures collected from students. The learning of the negotiation procedure was evaluated by asking students to write out step-by-step how they would resolve a conflict that involved gaining access to a computer. Responses were scored for the presence of the six negotiation steps (1 point per step). The ability to apply the negotiation procedure was evaluated by asking students to read brief scenarios about unresolved conflicts and describing what they would do in those situations. Responses were classified using the Strategy Constructiveness Scale and the Conflict Strategies Theory Scale. The ability to apply the peer mediation procedure was evaluated by asking students how they would resolve situations that involved a conflict between two students over one’s cutting in line in front of the other. The responses were categorized using the Intervention Constructiveness Scale and the Mediation Strategies Theory Scale.

Data was analyzed using unpaired t-tests to examine the differences between the experimental (trained) and control (untrained) conditions.

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Cost

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Books and materials for the Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers program can be purchased through the Cooperative Learning Institute Interaction Book Company Web site: http://www.co-operation.org/books-and-materials/. The Teaching Students To Be Peacemakers (4th Edition) costs $35.00 and includes lesson plans and lesson structures.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Johnson, David W., Roger Johnson. Bruce Dudley. Marty Ward, and Douglas Magnuson. 1995. “The Impact of Peer Mediation Training on the Management of School and Home Conflicts.” American Educational Research Journal 32(4):829–844.

Study 2
Stevahn, Laurie, David W. Johnson, Roger T. Johnson, Katie Oberle, and Leslie Wahl. 2000. “Effects of Conflict Resolution Training Integrated into a Kindergarten Curriculum.” Child Development 71(3):772–784.

Study 3
Stevahn, Laurie, David W. Johnson, Roger T. Johnson, and Ray Schultz. 2002. “Effects of Conflict Resolution Training Integrated Into a High School Social Studies Curriculum.” The Journal of Social Psychology 142(3):305–331.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Johnson, Roger T., and David W. Johnson. 2002. “Teaching Students To Be Peacemakers: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Research in Education 12(1):25–39.

Johnson, David W., and Roger T. Johnson. 1996. “Peacemakers: Teaching Students to Resolve Their Own and Schoolmates’ Conflicts.” Focus on Exceptional Children 28(6):1–11.

Johnson, David W., and Roger T. Johnson. 1995. “Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers: Results of Five Years of Research.” Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology 1(4):417–38.

Johnson, David W., and Roger T. Johnson. 1996. “Teaching All Students How to Manage Conflicts Constructively: The Peacemakers Program.” The Journal of Negro Education 65(3):322–35.

Johnson, David W., and Roger T. Johnson. 2003. “Field Testing Integrative Negotiations.” Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology 9(1):39–68.

Johnson, David W., and Roger T. Johnson. 2004. “Implementing the ‘Teaching Students To Be Peacemakers Program.’” Theory Into Practice 43(1):68–79.

Johnson, David W., Roger T. Johnson, Bruce Dudley, James Mitchell, and Joel Fredrickson. 1997. “The Impact of Conflict Resolution Training on Middle School Students.” The Journal of Social Psychology 137(1):11–21.

Johnson, David W., Roger T. Johnson, Bruce Dudley, and Kamile Acikgoz. 1994. “Effect of Conflict Resolution Training on Elementary School Students.” The Journal of Social Psychology 134(6):803–17.

Johnson, David W., Roger T. Johnson, Barbara Cotton, Debra Harris, and Sally Louison. 1995. “Using Conflict Managers to Mediate Conflicts in an Inner-City Elementary School.” Mediation Quarterly 12(4):379–90.

Johnson, David W., Roger T. Johnson, Bruce Dudley, and Douglas Magnuson. 1995. “Training Elementary School Students to Manage Conflict.” The Journal of Social Psychology 135(6):673–86.

Johnson, David W., Roger T. Johnson, and Bruce Dudley. 1992. “Effects of Peer Mediation Training on Elementary School Students.” Mediation Quarterly 10(1):89–99.

Stevahn, Laurie, and Katie Oberle. 2003. “Effects of Perspective Reversal Training and Conflict-Resolution-Based Classroom Management in Kindergarten.” Journal of Research in Education 13(1):62–72.

Stevahn, Laurie, and Katie Oberle. 2003. “Effects of Perspective Reversal Training and Conflict-Resolution-Based Classroom Management in Kindergarten.” Journal of Research in Education 13(1):62–72.

Stevahn, Laurie, and Katie Oberle. 2003. “Effects of Perspective Reversal Training and Conflict-Resolution-Based Classroom Management in Kindergarten.” Journal of Research in Education 13(1):62–72.

Stevahn, Laurie, David W. Johnson, Roger T. Johnson, Anne Marie Laginski, and Iris O’Coin. 1996. “Effects on High School Students of Integrating Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation Training into an Academic Unit.” Mediation Quarterly 14(1):21–36.

Stevahn, Laurie, David W. Johnson, Roger T. Johnson, and Don Real. 1996. “The Impact of a Cooperative or Individualistic Context on the Effectiveness of Conflict Resolution Training.” American Educational Research Journal 33(3):801–23.

Stevahn, Laurie, Linda Munger, and Kathy Kealy. 2005. “Conflict Resolution in a French Immersion Elementary School.” The Journal of Educational Research 99(1):3–18.
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Universal School-Based Prevention and Intervention Programs for Aggressive and Disruptive Behavior
Universal school-based prevention and intervention programs for aggressive and disruptive behavior target elementary, middle, and high school students in a universal setting, rather than focusing on only a selective group of students, with the intention of preventing or reducing violent, aggressive, or disruptive behaviors. The practice is rated Effective in reducing violent, aggressive, and/or disruptive behaviors in students.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - More than one Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors



School-Based Conflict Resolution Education
This practice aims to reduce school-based conflict and encourage long-term prosocial behavior. It teaches students to understand the nature of the conflict and provides options for responding. This practice is rated Promising for multiple problem or at-risk behaviors. Student participants in the programs reported significantly fewer antisocial behaviors than students in the control group.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Multiple juvenile problem/at-risk behaviors
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Program Snapshot

Age: 5 - 14

Gender: Both

Geography: Suburban

Setting (Delivery): School

Program Type: Classroom Curricula, Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, School/Classroom Environment

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide