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Soul Force Research

Why My Problem Is Relevant

February 2017 Vandalism at Shawnee Mission East

If a picture speaks a thousand words, I think this picture totally nails why the problem of school climate after the election is important. While team rivalry and vandalism existed way before the election, graffiti such "Hilary Won LOL" and the swastikas refer to the backlash that's occurred since the election. There's no doubt that this election has fueled contempt.

What Questions Lingered

The questions that lingered after my pre-search were "How does school climate affect learning?" and "How can school climate be improved?". I felt my pre-search process revealed a clear picture of the rise in bullying, harassment, and assault in schools before, during, and after the election. I don't think just these problems are just going away on their own, so my research focused mostly on why school climate is important and how to improve it.

What Source Addressed My Lingering Questions

I found one source in particular helpful in addressing both of my lingering questions. "Seven Ways to Create a More Positive School Climate" by Peter DeWitt began by emphasizing how key school climate is by citing a study based on 15 years of research based in schools around the world linking positive school climate and academics. 

The article continues to provide suggestions on improving school climate, such as "focus[ing] on creativity more than compliance," be[ing] happy for others," "focus[ing] on accomplishments of students," and "listen[ing] to what others say, even the people you disagree with." I found all of these helpful--but vague. The most significant suggestion was to give a school climate survey and review results with teachers before taking actions based on what the data reveals. This is ultimately my goal for this project!

Why I Trust My Source

The author of my source, Peter DeWitt, is an Ed.D. and former K-5 teacher and principal who regularly contributes to Education Week, an online publication published by a non-profit organization. The particular article was published November 28, 2016, which was right after the election as teacher across the country were dealing with the fall out from the election. The article proved its reliability because it didn't show a bias towards or against Trump, but rather focused on the impact of the election on students. It also had several links to resources ranging from a National Public Radio article, to a study published by the Review of Educational Research, to the Department of Education.