Kind discipline: Developing a conceptual model of a promising school discipline approach

Jennifer L. Winkler, Michele E. Walsh, Madeleine de Blois, Jeannette Maré, Scott C. Carvajal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This formative evaluation develops a novel conceptual model for a discipline approach fostering intrinsic motivation and positive relationships in schools. We used concept mapping to elicit and integrate perspectives on kind discipline from teachers, administrators, and other school staff. Three core themes describing kind discipline emerged from 11 identified clusters: (1) proactively developing a positive school climate, (2) responding to conflict with empathy, accountability, and skill, and (3) supporting staff skills in understanding and sharing expectations. We mapped the identified components of kind discipline onto a social ecological model and found that kind discipline encompasses all levels of that model including the individual, relational, environmental/structural, and even community levels. This contrasts with the dominant individual-behavioral discipline approaches that focus on fewer levels and may not lead to sustained student and staff motivation. The findings illustrate the importance of setting and communicating clear expectations and the need for them to be collaboratively developed. Products of the analysis and synthesis reported here are operationalized materials for teachers grounded in a “be kind” culture code for classrooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Alternative discipline
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Concept mapping
  • Mixed-method
  • School discipline
  • School-based prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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