A study to determine the effects of certain methods of behavioral counseling on the frequency of disruptive acts of school bus passengers

Williams, Nathaniel B., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Beard, Richard L., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

An attempt was made to affect the behavior of school bus passengers in rural, racially mixed, Charles City County, Virginia by using behavioral counseling techniques based on the social learning theory. The study was conducted as two experiments.

Experiment One involved twenty-four subjects who were enrolled in the Charles City Middle School which contains the sixth and seventh grades. The subjects were identified as being prone to commit disruptive acts as school bus passengers. The subjects were randomly assigned to two treatment groups and one control group. Each group consisted of eight subjects. Treatment for Group I was ten sessions, approximately forty-five minutes each, of individual counseling. Treatment for Group II consisted of eight, approximately fifty minute sessions of group counseling which were structured by the investigator. Subjects in Group III received no treatment. Empirical evidence supported the hypothesis that individual and group counseling would influence positively the number of disruptive acts committed by the subjects as school bus passengers. The hypothesis that the effects of individual and group counseling procedures on the number of disruptive acts committed by the subjects as bus passengers would vary was not substantiated.

The subjects for Experiment Two were eight female bus drivers and four male drivers who discharged bus passengers at the pre-school, the elementary and secondary schools of Charles City County. Two of the male drivers were high school students. One male driver and one female driver were employed by the county as teachers. Several drivers worked for the county as school cafeteria employees. The subjects were randomly assigned to a treatment and a control group. Treatment for the experimental group in Experiment Two consisted of four, one hour sessions in which skills in behavior management were presented. The control group received no treatment.

The results of Experiment One were positive. When empirical data from the experimental groups were compared with data from the control group it was concluded that both the individual and group counseling methods had been effective. The hypothesis that the number of referrals for disruption by subjects in the control group would differ from the number of referrals for subjects in the experimental group was validated. There were no referrals because of disruptive acts by any subject in either experimental group. Therefore there was no evidence of difference between the effects of the two experimental treatments. The hypothesis that there would be a difference in the number of disruptive acts reported for subjects in individual counseling from the number of disruptive acts reported for subjects in the group process was not validated.

The number of referrals made by the subjects of the experimental and control groups in Experiment Two is similar. When Fisher's Exact Probability Test was applied to analyze the data a probability of .8785 was obtained. The hypothesis that the number of referrals made by school bus drivers participating in a program of skill training based on social learning principles would refer a significantly different number of disruptive students than would a control group of drivers not participating in such a program was not validated.

School bus passengers who have been identified as being liable to commit disruptive acts on a school bus appeared to respond favorably to behavioral counseling. The absence of any referrals to the principal of any of the experimental subjects in this investigation supports this idea when compared with the referrals of subjects in the control group. There was no evidence that all passengers who' committed or provoked disruptive behavior on the school bus were suspended from'school~ Subjects in the experimental groups of Experiment One indicated that drivers were inconsistent and selective when making referrals. The influence of crowding and lack of crowding on buses involved in this inves~igation was not included in this study. Observation of the loaded buses by the counselor indicated that the buses in the county were not crowed. The supply of bus drivers in the county and the relationship which some of them have with students as teachers and classmates may influence the behavior of the disruptive student. It is possible that the sex of the driver may also determine, in part, the behavior on a particular bus.

The composition of the groups of Experiment Two of the investigation did not appear to be balanced. This difference may have influenced the outcome.

Busing is an intergral part of the educational programs of many of the school districts of Virginia. Discipline or the lack of it has achieved an infamous position in the group of concerns of school officials, teachers, parents and pupils. Findings of this study imply that the use of behavioral counseling with students prone to disruptive behavior as school bus passengers may be desirable. The findings do not differentiate between the effectiveness of group and individual counseling procedures because both treatments were equally effective.

With training the unique abilities of drivers, counselors, principals, parents and bus passengers may aid in the orderly transportation of students. The relationship of the driver to the passenger is an influential factor in a passengers behavior pattern. Counseling disruptive students could serve to make transportation a positive aspect of education instead of another part of the problem.

The investigator feels that the findings of this study may be employed under circumstances similar to those in Charles City County, Virginia. The investigator also believes that modifications may be applied which would make a program of behavioral counseling effective in larger or smaller school districts. Further research is needed in the area of skill training for bus drivers. Investigations into the effects of behavioral counseling in other localities and under other circumstances are needed.

It is suggested that future investigators of disruptive school bus passengers give particular attention to the use of referrals as a measure of school bus passenger disruption. It is also suggested that longer periods of treatment might result in a positive influence when used with bus drivers.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
behavior, school bus passengers, behavioral counseling
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
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