Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Psychology


The objective of this study is to determine what influence group discussion has on eighth grade students relative to changing their concepts and attitudes toward problems of social behavior.

An overview of the literature, and other possible sources that were pursued, indicated that the age of adolescence finds the youngster becoming more group centered. The thoughts and opinions of eighth graders shared with their peers have an effect in molding concepts of behavior. It was indicated that more emotional involvement takes place in student-centered rather than counselor-centered group discussions.

In order to sample the opin.4.ons and beliefs of eighth graders, two equivalent questionnaires of twenty-five questions each were prepared. The questions concerned problems that are common among junior high school youth. For each question the student was required to check one of three answers: "Yes," "Don't Know," and "No.” The testing was confined to seven group guidance classes of eighth graders, totaling 194 students, from the Samuel Gorton Junior High School, Warwick; Rhode Island. Four of the classes served as experimental sections; the remaining three classes constituted the control sections.

The first questionnaire was administered to all seven group guidance classes. Each question was reviewed and discussed in the tour experimental sections. With two of the experimental sections the discussions were student-centered; counselor-centered discussions were conducted with the other two sections. No review of the questions was allowed with the three control sections. After discussions, the second questionnaire was given to all seven group guidance classes. A follow-up was made with two of the experimental sections during the early part of the succeeding school term, when the pupils were in the ninth grade.

The experimental sections having a higher median IQ exhibited more spontaneity in discussions. This general reaction was observed under both student- and counselor-centered leadership. The majority of students in these groups came from middle or upper middle class homes.

The comparison of answers which made up the total shift of group opinion indicated that, after discussion, the experimental groups in general seemed to be less certain in their choice of answers and more reflective.

Results of the study revealed that the response of experimental sections. After discussion when compared with those of the control groups, showed little change in the concepts of behavior attitudes. The study attempted to modify attitudes and concepts many of which had been formed prior to the youngster's entering junior high school. It may be appreciated these attitudes, like habits, are not easily changed, and discussions over a period of time may be required in order to effect any modification of the pattern of the respondent's thinking. It appears more positive results can be expected if opinions and concepts have not become fixed before group discussions are held.



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