Collyer, Charles [faculty advisor, Department of Psychology]
non-violence, education, psychology
The Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at URI focuses on a type of nonviolence based on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Six Principles of Nonviolence”. This type of nonviolence education provides skills for conflict reconciliation and social change. A fifth grade teacher from Wakefield Elementary School has incorporated nonviolence education into her curriculum. Over the past nine years she has observed a significant correlation between providing this curriculum and her students’ self-esteem and confidence. Advocates agree that nonviolence education improves self-esteem, however little research has been done to support this claim. This study examines whether fifth grade students receiving this curriculum show differences in self-esteem. Other variables, including students’ age, gender and schools were also analyzed.
Eleven fifth grade classes in the South Kingstown School District were surveyed, including the class that received nonviolence education. Participants (N=135) completed a questionnaire based on Likert ratings of self-esteem. The data collected provides important insights about local fifth grade students. First, self-esteem among fifth graders in the South Kingstown School District seems to be high. Second, using our measures there were no classes that were significantly higher or lower than others. Third, a marginally significant correlation was found indicating that older students were more likely to try new things. Fourth, significant gender effects were found for three of the five questions. Fifth, in the nonviolence class every female student gave the highest rating possible for the statement “I can do anything if I put my mind to it”. Finally, of the seventeen students in the nonviolence class, fifteen reported feeling more confident in their ability to solve problems (after receiving nonviolence education) in supplementary questions.