Researching assertive discipline

Susan Coates chose to conduct research on Assertive Discipline (AD) and its effectiveness within the classroom.

English Teacher, Flexible Route Probationer, Dumfries and Galloway

When probationers in Dumfries and Galloway were informed of the opportunity to carry out some independent research, I did not jump at the chance; instead, I took tiny, tentative steps towards it. Would it fit in with my ever-expanding workload and numerous CPD commitments?

The simple answer was yes - just! I was careful about my topic, Assertive Discipline (AD) and its effectiveness within the classroom, and deliberately chose a practical focus that could be incorporated into my everyday teaching practice.

The reason for my chosen topic was simple: low-level in discipline was frequently accompanied by challenging and disconcerting behaviours and, to echo the words of Sue Cowley, it was all about "getting the buggers to behave"!


My methodology relied heavily on classroom observation. Recording pupils’ behaviour during class-time was in tune with the AD programme, and I found this to be a constructive classroom practice.

A formal monitoring system encouraged pupils to take responsibility for their own behaviour, while tracking behaviour as the day progressed, using symbols representing behaviour, was an accurate, timesaving technique.

Collating evidence and reviewing findings was an involved process, but reflecting upon these strategies was worthwhile. I quickly realised the extent to which different classes responded to different practices, and was able to adapt the AD framework accordingly.

Although easily manageable, if you consider your subject matter and methodologies carefully, undertaking research, particularly in your probation year is an additional strain.

Establish a clear focus with achievable aims and prepare the groundwork carefully. Set aside sufficient time to write (and rewrite) the end product, and then reap the benefits of reflecting on, and critically assessing, your own teaching.

For the record, I did get classes to behave (for the most part anyway), and have continued to employ the strategies I initially adopted during my period of research.