Changing Classroom Social Settings Through Attention to Norms
Building on theories of social settings, this chapter describes the norms that develop among students in classrooms in terms of feedback circuits, and offers a theory of change based on altering the normative feedback students receive. It recommends that teachers work to establish norms early in the life of a classroom social setting; provide regular behavioral feedback that includes behavioral praise as well as correction; and make use of opportunities to make behavioral norms salient to students. Further, the chapter also proposes research on measurement of classroom norms and on interventions to change them. The measurement theory offered is based on Jackson's Return Potential Model, which sees norms as the interaction between behavior and approval in a social setting. Finally, the chapter reviews interventions that attempt to change behavior through changing norms, and evaluates the effects of such normative feedback interventions on substance abuse among college students. Using meta-analysis to estimate the mean effect size of such normative feedback interventions, it contends that the effect size compares favorably to the mean effect size found for a popular substance use preventive intervention. The chapter concludes by encouraging further development of theory and intervention about normative processes.
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