Evaluation of Respectful Conflict Resolution and...

Evaluation of Respectful Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation Program's primary purpose is to provide data for schools and their surrounding communities to become more peaceful by empowering teachers, students, parents, and community leaders to constructively address conflict and violence in their families, schools,and communities through integrated, sustainable, and comprehensive respectful conflict resolution skills programs. To do so, Saskatoon Community Mediation Services (SCMS) provides respectful conflict resolution training and program development to elementary schools in Saskatoon and area. The program offers at least six sessions of age-appropriate and culturally inclusive awareness and skill development programming in every classroom. Teachers observe or participate in the sessions so as to develop these skills for the future. If the school chooses to have a peer mediation program then a SCMS staff person provides two days of training to selected students who will become peer mediators. At least one teacher or teacher’s aide per school is given an opportunity to attend SCMS’ forty-hour Mediation Level One Training. Those participants are then eligible to be a teacher coordinator for the program in their school. Parents and community leaders are invited to volunteer to support the training where appropriate. Practicum students and SCMS volunteers also provide support for the program even as they are learning the skills. This current evaluation’s goal is to understand how well this program has been received and what is needed to sustain it.

This project was conducted to evaluate the respectful conflict resolution and peer mediation program in Saskatoon elementary schools.  Feedback from the school administrators was positive in that they felt the peer mediation program had deterred negative behaviour. However, they had struggled with maintaining the program (i.e. finding proper time, limited teacher support, supervision requirements, and inadequate financial backing to serve as incentives for students). Only six parents, representing seven schools, were interviewed. All but one parent was extremely supportive of the program and felt that it had assisted their child/youth in terms of developing leadership and problem solving skills, better communication skills, and confidence. They also expressed pride in their child/youth. Only one parent felt that her child/youth did not benefit because he was teased by other students about his participation. Students made up the largest group (twenty-nine in total) interviewed for this project. One major theme that emerged from student interviews was that peer mediation helps younger students solve social problems. Being a peer mediator allowed these students to get to know the younger students, learn how to problem-solve, and gain confidence. However, they also felt that they needed more training and supervision. They felt that the program needed to be better advertised in their schools and to be acknowledged through an article of clothing that made them stand out. They also felt that they did not receive enough recognition from teachers.

Recommendations:

  1. More training needs to be provided for this program, especially ongoing training.
  2. More than one supervising teacher is needed for this program.
  3. The program needs to be better advertised within the school and to parents.
  4. More incentives are needed for peer mediators.
  5. Peer mediators require more hands-on support from teachers.
  6. Older students need to be more involved in the program.
  7. The program requires greater funding.
  8. More time needs to be made available to this program.
  9. Training should be available in French at Saskatoon’s French school.

Gauley, Marg. (2006). Evaluation of Respectful Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation Program. Saskatoon: Community-University Institute for Social Research.