Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences, Child, Family, and School Psychology

First Advisor

Devadrita Talapatra

Second Advisor

Tara Raines


Education, Discipline, Juvenile justice system, School psychology


African American and Latinx students are disproportionality impacted by punitive discipline models including suspensions, detention, and expulsions. This disproportionality removes students from the education setting creating adverse social emotional, academic, and economic outcomes. Students who are suspended and expelled are more likely to have contact with the juvenile justice system and or to be pushed out of school into alternative settings. Therefore, punitive discipline leads to increased school-based pathways to the juvenile justice system (SPJJ), also known as the school the prison pipeline (STPP). Despite knowledge of these adverse outcomes, schools continue to utilize punitive discipline practices. School psychologists are in a unique position to advocate for and model alternative discipline practices, as they work with all facets of the school system including students, teachers, families, special services providers, and administrators.

This dissertation investigated the experiences, practices, and resources that influenced educator mindsets and how these mindsets impacted the use of various discipline practices. This investigation sought to understand how school psychologists could support school systems in utilizing strengths-based and preventative discipline practices. Manuscript One offered an examination of current American mainstream discipline practices and the lifelong impacts it has on students. The literature review also examined the influences on the use of these practices including deficit-based models of thinking, implicit bias, and lack of mental health consultation and resources. The literature review demonstrated a gap in research related to discipline models and how school psychologists can advocate for and model strengths-based approaches. With this gap in mind, collaboration and advocacy for strengths-based models, such as restorative justice, were proposed.

Manuscript Two described a qualitative case study that examined the experiences, pedagogies, and internal and external factors that influence the use of various discipline practices used by educators from a large urban district. A rich description of each case as well as cross case thematic analysis was used to further understand the utilization of various discipline practices. Findings identified the most common punitive and preventative models of discipline practices utilized, external and internal influences on discipline, and common educator pedagogies ascribed by educators. Recommendations derived from the findings included advocacy for the implementation of strengths-based models of discipline, training on positive preventive practices, and culturally humble education environments.

Copyright Date


Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Cierra Townsend


Received from ProQuest

File Format



English (eng)


233 pgs

File Size

1.4 MB


Psychology, Educational psychology