The Effects of Conflict Mediation Training on Attitudes Toward Conflict and Interpersonal Problem-Solving Strategies of Middle School Students

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Virginia Tech

Numerous research studies have documented the benefits of a conflict mediation program as one component of a school-based violence prevention program. The major purpose of this study was to determine the possible effects of participation in a conflict mediation training program and serving as a peer mediator on the attitude a student has toward conflict and the interpersonal problem-solving strategies employed by a student. Secondly, this study sought to determine if students trained in conflict mediation skills assimilate the skills into their daily lives by examining attitudes and behaviors of students when faced with conflict outside the school environment.

The population in this study were 40 students enrolled in three grade levels in a middle school located in a suburban southwestern Virginia county . These students were named as possible mediators by the school faculty during the 1995-96 school term.

The independent variable in this study was training in conflict mediation skills. The dependent variables were attitude toward conflict as measured by the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument and interpersonal problem-solving skills as measured by the Alternative Solutions Test. Parents and teachers of all participants documented observed behavior by completing the problem scales of the Child Behavior Checklist and the Teacher's Response Form. Qualitative data were collected through the use of a focus group.

Measures of central tendency and standard deviations were calculated for the experimental and control groups for each dependent variable tested. Analysis of variance and t-tests were conducted to determine if significant effects were present following the treatment. All test results were analyzed at the p< .05 level.

Based on the data analysis, it was concluded that students trained in conflict mediation chose to utilize collaboration and compromise when faced with situations of conflict whenever possible. The students receiving no training chose avoiding or accommodating most frequently. In addition, it was concluded that training affected the problem-solving skills of students by empowering them and encouraging the development of confidence in their abilities to solve problems. Students trained in conflict mediation generated a significantly greater number of solutions to problems presented than did the untrained students.

Mediation, Conflict Resolution, Peer Mediation