Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Counseling Psychology EdD

First Advisor

Brian Gerrard

Second Advisor

Larry Palmatier

Third Advisor

Neal Laughlin

Fourth Advisor

Bill Firpo


The purpose of this research project was to investigate the effectiveness of after school detention as a disciplinary tool for handling student misbehavior at school. Detention is defined as holding a student during their own free time, such as after school. The subjects of the study were problematic students assigned to detention for inappropriate behavior, i.e. violating a school rule or regulation.

As a school practitioner conducted this research the study highlights the practitioner's perspective for effective student discipline management in developing and maintaining a positive school climate. In many regards, the study was meant to provide information to the staff person who is the designated disciplinarian in a school on the ways that person may survive. cope, and manage amidst a frenzy of diverse problems and problematic youth. As an element in the quest for success, the practitioner has to develop visionary skills in adapting the existing school processes or finding new methods to meet the challenge of current problems for youth and society.

This study introduces a counseling psychology format that combines a critical thinking problem solving method with a brief strategic family systems approach for use in the detention setting. The setting for the research is an urban high school in the 1990's. The characters are thirteen to eighteen year old teenagers living the drama of adolescence. wherein amidst great somatic changes. they strive for their own place in the world. Of itself. a study of detention might seem insignificant. but the study takes on greater importance within the context of adolescence and the educator's responsibility to provide proper preparation to this emerging population of young adults. Detention is developed to a higher order. a treatment at the time of need when the student has to adapt or adjust to successfully meet the demands of their educational environment. There is a critical moment where the factors involved in the resolution of the problem come together for learning. The researcher worked towards controlling the detention environment so that such a setting for learning could replace the former types of customary custodial detentions. The researcher elected to assess which type of intervention was best suited to the adolescent adjusting to high school. A new disciplinary approach employing learning would be in harmony with recent enlightenments in the developing field of counseling.

In the traditional detention model. students continually questioned the researcher as disciplinarian about the fairness of the penalty. They typically attempted to place the blame and origin of the problem elsewhere. thinking and stating that they were being punished because the teacher was mad and took the anger out on them. The problem was perceived as beyond their control. The cause and effect relationship in their thinking could not easily be defined in a way that made sense of the punishment. The time between problem and penalty was clearly too great of a lapse to fit a behaviorist model of learning. The in-between time mutated lesson learning. with faulty logic on the part of the self-excusing student offender. The end result was that the troubled students reinforced each other with the notion that they were hostages in an unfair and oppressive system. Under this frame of thinking. the adolescent saw school as the enemy and thus their counter-attacks against the school were no less than heroic. Thus, this old-fashioned punishment based model of detention was very flawed.