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EFFECTS OF NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION TRAINING PROGRAM ON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN

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This study's experimental design is focused on the effectiveness of a nonviolent communication training program implemented among elementary school children. The entire training program was consisted of nine workshops, with each session lasting for two 45-minute lessons. The workshops were designed to address the defined 9 (nine) components of nonviolent communication: (1) perception, (2) feelings, (3) needs, (4) demands, (5) types of verbal abuse, (6) student response to aggression, (7) how to recognize emotions, (8) conflict resolution skills, and (9) types of conflict resolution. Data were collected for each workshop separately by means of self-report instruments (tests), which were designed to enable students’ report on the degree of acquisition of specific components of nonviolent communication. The results indicated that the training program contributed to an increased competence in nonviolent communication among 13- and 14-year old pupils. Furthermore, the results revealed that student response to aggression is the component of the most importance for the program. With teachers often employing a violent communication mode, the authors conclude that further researches, with school teachers in their focus, are particularly needed.
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2018 71(8 )
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Nenad Suzić1
Faculty of Philosophy
Banja Luka
Tatjana Marić2
Elementary School „M. Rakić“
Banja Luka
Dane Malešević3
Ministry of Education and Culture, Republika Srpska
Banja Luka
EFFECTS OF NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION TRAINING PROGRAM
ON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN
Abstract
This study's experimental design is focused on the effectiveness of a
nonviolent communication training program implemented among elementary
school children. The entire training program was consisted of nine workshops,
with each session lasting for two 45-minute lessons. The workshops were
designed to address the defined 9 (nine) components of nonviolent
1 Nenad Suzić (D.Sc.) is a full professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in Banja Luka.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to: nenad_szc@yahoo.com, phone:
00387/65-538-500
2 Tatjana Marić (D.Sc.) works as a school counselor (pedagogue) at Elementary School „Milan
Rakić“, Karanovac, Banja Luka.
3 Dane Malešević (D.Sc.) is a minister at the Government of Republika Srpska.
Original scientific paper
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communication: (1) perception, (2) feelings, (3) needs, (4) demands, (5) types of
verbal abuse, (6) student response to aggression, (7) how to recognize emotions,
(8) conflict resolution skills, and (9) types of conflict resolution. Data were
collected for each workshop separately by means of self-report instruments (tests),
which were designed to enable students’ report on the degree of acquisition of
specific components of nonviolent communication. The results indicated that the
training program contributed to an increased competence in nonviolent
communication among 13- and 14-year old pupils. Furthermore, the results
revealed that student response to aggression is the component of the most
importance for the program. With teachers often employing a violent
communication mode, the authors conclude that further researches, with school
teachers in their focus, are particularly needed.
Key words: nonviolent communication, aggression, conflicts, emotions,
students’ classroom engagement
With teachers dominating the process of classroom communication, it is
often told that traditional teaching, as far as students are concerned, is generally
violent. The examples of violent communication on the teacher’s part are
numerous every time a teacher shouts “Silence!”, or warns a student to “Stop
talking!” he/she turns to the style of violent communication. Not before the
second half of the twentieth century did the researchers start to investigate the
field of nonviolent communication. The first works on Nonviolent
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Communication were developed by Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s
(Branscomb, 2011; Gates, Gear, & Wray, 2000). There are many examples of
violent communication in everyday conversations when you hear people saying
things like: “Hold on for a while!”, or “Let me just finish!”, you have just heard
lines which can be described as violent communication. Communication is always
about two or more people actively exchanging their thoughts; if one of them
shows signs of disinterest, this should be a clear indicator for the other person not
to ask for more attention. Even remarks as simple as the above ones are labeled as
examples of violent communication. Marshall Rosenberg focused his attention on
the three aspects of this phenomenon: (1) self-empathy, (2) empathy and (3) self-
expression (Rosenberg, 2001). Put simply, if one wants to avoid being violent in
communication, one must first examine his/her own needs and feelings. When the
teacher says: “Students are just not listening to me.”, he/she is putting blame on
the studetns, whereas if he/she says: “I cannot find way to get my students
engaged”, the teacher is clearly taking responsibility for what is taking place in
the classroom environment. The second approach is an example of Nonviolent
Communication. Awareness of one’s own inner experience is where the
Nonviolent Communications stems from. It is followed by empathy, or the
understanding of other people’s thoughts, feelings and actions.
Rosenberg recognizes four distinct conditions for emotional Nonviolent
Communication (NVC): (1) blame oneself, (2) blame the other person, (3) think
about one’s own feelings and needs, and (4) think about feelings and needs of the
other person (Rosenberg, 2001). Only the fourth model of communication is the
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correct one (ibidem). Why? If someone tells you that you are too generous, and
you respond to that by asking why he thinks that way, you keep the conversation
going on. In any other case, i.e. if we choose to apply any of the first three models
of communication, we interrupt communication and end up being in conflict with
the other person. The students participating in the present study were taught how
to recognize all four components of communication, and how to apply the fourth
one as the most productive of all NVC strategies. We did not stop there, so we
developed five more conditions for Nonviolent Communication: (1) forms of
verbal abuse, (2) student respond to aggression, (3) how to recognize emotions,
(4) conflict resolution skills, and (5) types of conflict resolution. With
Rosenberg’s four and our five conditions for Nonviolent Communication, we
managed to design nine workshops for this study (each carried out during two 45-
minute lessons).
The history of Nonviolent Communication
In Didactica Magna, published in 1692, Jan Amos Komensky (John Amos
Comenius) outlined the concept of universal education and set forth the idea of
equal opportunity of education for all children. The Jesuits began building schools
more than 400 years ago. In the response to the historical concept of
industrialization, the Jesuit educational institutions were well-known for their
military-like structure and organization. This concept had been emulated in
Komensky’s work as he wanted the structure of education to resemble to the
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model of industrial units, which was known to have been expanding at that time.
It took more than one century of conceptual reshape in the field of education to
get to the organizational structures able to transform schools int life-serving and
lifelong learning environments (Rosenberg, 2003). Rosenberg advocates an
entirely new concept of education. Education, in his opinion, should meet the
needs of humans and maximize their potential to prosper as individuals in the
learning civilization they live in (ibid.). With all due respect to conscientious
educators and students, classroom communication is still predominantly violent.
Sura Hart and Victoria Hodson Kindle have been parenting and teaching for
over 45 years and through their work they provide a foundation of communication
and relationship skills, which can be seen as the presuppositions for a solid NVC
in classrooms: (1) invigorate four types of relationship in your classroom, (2)
motivate your students without punishment and reward, (3) eliminate fear and
support trust, (4) unblock the natural need of children to learn, (5) make students
feel classroom environment safe (Hart & Kindle Hodson, 2006). These conditions
can surely be met by dedicated teachers who love their calling. If students show
love for learning, teacher will in reverse show love for teaching (Rosenberg,
2003). Learning is therefore to be seen as the natural need of all humans - we only
need to facilitate theses needs to be met and we will have satisfied individuals.
How did we manage then to make learning skid from tracks of enjoyable to tracks
of unpleasant activity? There are probably as many explanations for this
phenomenon as there are authors who tackle the issue, but the underlying concept
is that we most likely fail to address the problem of meeting children’s need to
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learn with pleasure. The solution lies in diversifying learning methods, i.e. we
need to combine game-playing and learning, facilitate learning interaction,
nourish independent and research work among students, etc. There are four
notions which reflect the the past and the present and offer insight into the future
of education: (1) teaching (tutoring), (2) learning how to learn, (3) reclaiming the
pleasure of learning, and (4) lifelong learning. The third step, reclaiming the
pleasure of learning, is often found to be the most demanding one in the pursuit of
knowledge gaining among children and adults alike. Paul Dennison, for example,
suggests implementing the Brain Gym Exercise program in everyday teaching
environment, as these set of exercises are known to help students activate their
whole bodies and repattern the brain by making both brain hemispheres work
better (Dennison, 2006). He is a proponent of the idea that humans learn more
efficiently when they move since the the entire body behaves as the brain.
Movement triggers more effective learning process. We all learn better if employ
the entire body and move (2006, p. 31). If we want to put learning and pleasure
together, we need to activate our body, heart and mind (2006, p. 43). The
educators who strive to introduce the Nonviolent Communications programs in
schools should be well aware of these facts about more effective and
comprehensive form of learning and education.
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Nonviolent Communication in schools
Alfie Kohn, an American educator and lecturer, thinks that teachers are
better at telling their students what to do than actually working with them (1999,
p. 150). In their defense of homework, teachers have even allowed students to
make propositions for their home assignment, but it seems that almost never have
they come up with the same idea about it as their teachers. Some 25 to 30 students
per a classroom amazingly all fail to think about homework the way their teachers
do. However, in traditional-style learning environment it’s the teacher who makes
the final verdict on virtually every part of learning process. It is almost like the
teacher is compelled to order their students what to do. The present day
education’s fixation on grades, test scores and syllabi is an ambience which
fosters violence (Olweus, 1993). Teacher-student relationship in today’s schools
is burdened with violent communication “Be quiet!”, “Don’t move!” are all
examples of that. In order to break this pattern of violence in communications,
teachers need to step down from their pedestals of pivotal role in classroom. There
are good examples of teachers who: (1) encourage students to to develop their
competences, (2) support student to rely on one another, (3) encourage students to
ask questions, (4) reward students’ research activities, (5) implement cooperative
methods of learning, (6) introduce games in teaching, (7) communicate
nonviolently with their students, etc. The teachers who are not reluctant to apply
such approach during their lessons are often more popular among school children.
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Nonviolent Communication improves student engagement in classrooms.
For their students to be more actively engaged in learning, teachers need to utilize
modern teaching techniques and methods, and plan their lessons to meet the
demands of their students. Well-planned set of student activities establish a more
solid level of student engagement (Rimm-Kaufman, Baroody, Larsen, Curby, &
Abry, 2015). A vast amount of research offers evidence that higher student
engagement has the following effects: (1) engagement is the key medioator of
successful learning, (2) engagement is multiplied by action, cognitive, emotional
and social involvement, (3) student engagement depends on the nature of the
teaching material and lesson content, and (4) the transition period from
elementary to secondary school is characterized by lower level of student
engagement (Furrer & Skinner, 2003; Marks, 2000; Reschly & Christenson, 2012;
Reyes, Brackett, Rivers, White, & Salovey, 2012). Teachers who use modern-
style teaching methods in their classrooms have been found to raise the the level
of cognitive, emotional, action and social engagement of their students (Rimm-
Kaufman, Baroody, Larsen, Curby, & Abry, 2015). Emotional engagement is the
hardest one to achieve. Ned A. Flanders (1970) defined classrooms as emotional
deserts. Teachers who provide emotional support to their students: (1) show warm
and responsible behavior toward students (Pianta, La Paro, & Hamre, 2008), (2)
create positive social environment (ibid.), (3) exhibit pro-social behavior (ibid.),
(4) encourage positive communication among students (Luckner & Pianta, 2011),
(5) support mutual respect among students (ibid.). Nonviolent Communication
(NVC) proposes that students’ emotions should be appreciated by their teachers.
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Human communication nowadays is usually brief, explicit and violent, all due to
rapid technological changes and quick lifestyle conditions. We cannot expect
family environment to be the starting point for NVC skills acquisition. Schools
should provide the initial training. Why? Teachers are those who should be
familiar with the concept of NVC and its benefits, and if that is not the case, they
can easily be introduced to the entire novel process of communication. As trained
and qualified disseminators of NVC, teachers can more conveniently reach large
population of schoolchildren. As the most efficient way to get a closer look into
NVC, the present paper examines the effects of Nonviolent Communication
training in elementary school children.
Teaching Nonviolent Communication
People are often unaware that they are communicating violently. For
example, if a sports trainer says: “You are skipping training sessions,that’s
violent communication, as opposed to a more fine-tuned sentences like: “This is
the fifth time you didn’t show up for the training session.” which can be seen as
expressing fact about an occurrence. The second sentence is only about stating a
fact in the way which enables communication to continue. The first sentence is
clearly in the form of giving opinion, evaluating other people’s behavior, judging
or even accusing. What such utterance begets is nothing but verbal defense or
attack form the interlocutor’s part. Separating perception from attribution is one of
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the key conditions of NVC, according to Marshall Rosenberg (Rosenberg, 2001).
Other features of NVC would include: feelings, needs and demands (ibid.).
Children can be trained to distinguish perception from attribution, as well as the
other components of Nonviolent Communication. The most suitable approach to
do that is to teach it through examples of NVC and workshop which cover
different forms of Nonviolent Communication. For instance, children can play
roles: lion (aggression), rabbit (running away, withdrawal), snake (attack,
hissing), giraffe (reserved, cold-blooded), dog (biting), cow (tolerance), etc.
(Hope & Timmel, 2017).
Why start with children? Reasons are many. First, they learn more easily
and don’t have many biases. Second, they will disseminate acquired NVC skills to
their family members and peers. Third, by introducing their students to NVC,
teachers will improve and better their own skills. Fourth, Nonviolent
Communication, when paired with modern-style teaching practices, can show
more effectiveness than traditional-style teaching (Kohn, 1999). The present study
has an experimental design which examines NVC among 7th-grade elementary
schoolchildren, aged 13 to 14.
Humans have never faced more demanding challenges then those that the
learning civilization of the 21st century has put before them. To give an example,
people often get together to work on various projects that last for months or only
days. So it is not far-fetched to say that students who are in schools today will
experience such working environments as soon as they enter the world of labour
market. To acquire these new tools for living and working, it is imperative for
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people to learn how to work in partnership with others (Eisler & Loye, 1990),
something which many schools are readily becoming aware of. People should
learn not only facts but how to love too (Palmer, 1983). Teaching environment is
still violent, designed to conform to authoritartian and autocratic teaching style,
often lacking to provide equal chances to all children, and dominated by grown-
up’s (teachers, educators) points of view (Eisier, 2002). These may be the key
reasons for this situation: (1) demanding subject syllabi which abound in facts and
information that may never be retrieved after the schooling is finished, and (2)
top-down approach in education system (hierarchically structured). There are
some estimates that around 80% of everything children learn in their schools is
both lost and unusuable upon completion of their education. Stanley Greenspan, a
renowned clinical professor from George Washington University, recalls hearing,
from the grown-ups when he was a child, that he would never be a happy person
if he didn’t learn how solve equations with two unknowns. The late Dr. Stanley
Geenspan, genious theoretician and clinician, admitted towards the end of his life
that he had never made use of knowledge about the equations with two unknowns
(Greenspan & Benderly, 1997). Modernization of educational institutions should
include some programs of Nonviolent Communication. The scope of educational
reforms is sometimes said to be very drastic and demanding, but with NVC
model, only minor interventions should be done on the school syllabi. The present
paper even offers evidence that NVC training can be implemented with no
interference with the existing syllabi.
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Here we try to answer the following questions: (1) Can children aged 13 to
14 be trained in Nonviolent Communicaton? and (2) What is the most important
thing in the entire training procedure?
Method
Sample
The sample consisted of 82 elementary school pupils (7th grade) drawn from
four different classrooms in two elementary schools from Banja Luka (Elementary
School “Ivo Andric” 44 pupils in total, 22 in the experimental (E) and 22 in the
control (C) group, and Elementary School “Bora Stankovic” 38 pupils in total, 19
in the E and 19 in the C group). Out of 82 participating pupils, 49 were boys and
33 were girls. This difference is not statistically significant - χ2 = 3.12 significant
at p = 0.08 leve, so it can be assumed that both groups were eveny balanced in
terms of the gender of participants. The researchers conducted the workshop
procedures, but they were designed in such manner that they can be easily
reproduced if necessay. However, the classroom teachers did not participate in the
research. The experiment was conducted in June and July of 2107.
Procedure
Nine different workshops, each lasting for 90 minutes (two 45-minute
lessons) were carried out in both groups. The introductory part of the workshop
consisted of the brief explanation given by the researching team member
(experimenter), i.e. each workshop covered one specific component of Nonviolent
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Communication. This was followed by the group work performed by the students.
The groups did not change in terms of the students participating in them. The
workshops were titled by the following components of NVC: (1) perception, (2)
feelings, (3) needs, (4) demands, (5) types of verbal abuse, (6) student response to
aggression, (7) how to recognize emotions, (8) conflict resolution skills, and (9)
types of conflict resolution. The students were asked fill out tests (9) at the end of
the workshop, and that was later used to calculate the final score and announce the
winning group. In case groups had less than five members, the randomly chosen
score from the group member was counted twice toward the final score. The
winning group was rewarded by a box of chocolates, whereas the individual
winner (student) from the E group received a book for the award.
Measures
This research applied nine instrument, each designed to cater for the needs
of the specific NVC component: (1) perception, (2) feelings, (3) needs, (4)
demands, (5) TVA types of verbal abuse, (6) SRA student response to
aggression, (7) REM how to recognize emotions, (8) CRS conflict resolution
skills, and (9) TCRtypes of conflict resolution. Each test had 10 questions with
the same number of the right answers the total of 90 points. All tests were
calibrated as to provide the reliability of test scores Cronbach’s alpha was
ranging from α = .75 to α = .88. An experimental pre-test/post-test design was
used (between the E group and the C group). The measures were taken before and
after the experiment (initial and final measure). The tests were comprised of
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introductory part with general data about the participant and the question and
answer section.
Results
The main research question was: Can elementary school students, aged 13
to 14, be trained in Nonviolent Communication (NVC)? The results, experimental
and control samples compared after and before the experiment (pre-test/post-test),
can provide accurate answers in that respect. Here we realied mostly on Glas's Δ
(Ellis, 2010). From the results in Tables 1 and 2, it is clear that students from the
experimental group made evident progress in all components of NVC, whereas
the students form the control group did not show the same outcome. The results
for the C group students were decreased in the component of nonviolent
expression of their demands (Δ = 0.31, significant at 0.05, Table 2), whereas
some increse in their results was recorded for the following components of NVC:
types of verbal abuse (violence) (Δ = –0.49, significant at 0.01, Table 2), types of
conflict resolution (Δ = 1.40, significant at 0.01, Table 2), and confict resolution
skils (Δ = –0.45, significant at 0.05, Table 2). These results compel us to ask the
following question: How is it possible that the control group student achieved
such results in the above NVC components? The answers may be as varied as
possible, however our main concern here is to answer whether the experimental
group students fared better than the control group students.
ES (Effect Size) is measured as Ellis (2010, p. 10)
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Table 1
Differences between initial and final measure, (E-group)
Variable
Initial
Final
95% reliability of
difference
Glass’
Δ
t p
Mi
SD
Mf
Lowest
Highest
Perception
4.71
1.42
7.46
3.35
2.17
1.66
9.45
.000
Feelings
5.22
1.56
6.59
2.02
0.71
0.83
4.20
.000
Needs
5.37
1.30
6.61
1.83
0.65
0.73
4.26
.000
Demands
6.27
1.83
7.34
1.79
0.35
0.51
3.01
.000
Types of verbal
abuse (violence)
4.07
1.85
7.29
4.06
2.38
1.70
7.72
.000
Student response
to aggression
6.90
2.62
8.54
2.43
0.84
0.64
4.17
.000
How to recognize
emotions
4.24
1.18
6.41
2.91
1.43
1.92
5.93
.000
Conflict
resolution skills
1.17
0.83
6.98
6,56
5.05
2.40
15.55
.000
Types of conflict
resolution
4.41
1.67
8.05
4.49
2.77
1.61
8.53
.000
TOTAL
4.62
0.72
7.27
3.04
2.27
2.37
13.93
.000
Let us now turn to the task of comparing the experimental and control group set of
results against one another (Table 3 and 4).
A research on effectiveness of school intervention program, conducted as a
meta-analytic study, gave evidence that such programs can have effects on: (1)
enhancing students’ self-esteem, (2) enhancing students’ social competence and
(3) peer acceptance, (4) enhancing teachers’ practice knowledge of effective
practices, and (5) feeling of efficacy regarding intervention skills (Merrell. Gueld-
ner, Ross, & Isava, 2008). The authors conducted a meta-analytic study of school
bullying intervention research, and found, after the synthesis of findings across 68
studies, 39 positive effects, some of which seemed to disperse uniformly across
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classification variables. Our study findings, although designed to provide an
insight into the effectiveness of Nonviolent Communication intervention program,
showed more positive effects. Even more surprisingly, all the participating
students in the experimental group acquired the entire set of NVC components
(Table 1). A group of Belgian authors conducted a study dealing with students’
competence to solve bully/victim problems, and found that the evaluated effects
of the anti-bullying intervention program increased students’ competence to deal
with bullying, respond to particular bully/victim situations, and be more aware of
different types of bullying behavior (Stevens, Van Oost, & de Bourdeaudhuij,
2000). The similar set of effects can be noted in the present study, which in our
case focused on Nonviolent Communication.
Table 2
Differences between initial and final measure, (C-group)
Variable
Initial
Final
95% reliability of
difference
Glass’
Δ
t p
Mi
SD
Mf
SD
Lowest
Highest
Perception
4.17
1.34
4.61
1.66
1.09
0.21
0.27
1.36
0.180
Feelings
4.17
2.07
4.61
1.66
1.13
0.25
0.27
1.29
0.205
Needs
5.02
1.39
4.76
1.71
0.35
0.88
0.15
0.88
0.384
Demands
6.41
1.63
5.76
2.10
0.01
1.31
0.31
2.05
0.047
Types of verbal
abuse (violence)
3.29
1.57
4.22
1.89
1.51
0.35
0.49
3.23
0.002
Student response
to aggression
6.63
2.33
6.46
2.56
0.51
0.85
0.07
0.51
0.613
How to recognize
emotions
3.90
1.48
3.63
1.13
0.24
0.77
0.24
1.08
0.289
Conflict
resolution skills
0.90
1.04
4.29
2.42
4.16
2.62
1.40
8.90
0.000
Types of conflict
resolution
3.44
1.69
4.46
2.26
1.67
0.38
0.45
3.21
0.030
TOTAL
4.23
0.91
4.71
1.12
0.73
0,23
0.43
3.88
0.000
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We applied an experimental pre-test/post-test design with a control group, in the
sam way as Stevens et al. (2000), however the registered effects in our study were
products of scientific observation, which calls for further research with more exact
measures and application advanced statistical procedures.
Tables 1 and 2 show changes in many components of NVC in both the
experimental and the control group. For the purpose of discovering whether the E
group results were significantly more improved over the C group values, we
measured the difference by applying Glas's Δ (Ellis, 2010). Table 3 shows results
in that respect (differences between the experimental and the control group).
ES (Effect Size) is measured as Ellis (2010, p. 10)
From the results in Table 3, it is evident that the there was a significant
increase in all components of NVC for the experimental group in comparison to
the control group (Table 3). This speaks in favor of the NVC intervention
program, which was conducted with the experimental group students (compare
data from Tables 1 and 2). During the experiment, the participating students
reported that they had no difficulties in acquiring NVC skills. They perceived it as
game-playing and competition. This might be due to the fact that they knew NVC
workshops and their outcome had nothing to do with their overall school
achievement, i.e. the students’ performance at workshops was not evaluated
towards their class grades. What was even more striking about the students’
attitude toward the entire experiment was best illustrated by an example from a
girl who participated in this study. She had written a two-page long letter about
bullying she experienced, and decided to share it with one of the experimenters.
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We could not but to conclude that bullying and violence has gone unnoticed in our
schools for years, at least in the example of this young girl.
Table 3
Differences between E (experimental) and C (control) group
Variable
E-group
C-group
95% reliability of
difference
Glass’
Δ
t p
Me
SD
Mk
SD
Lowest
Highest
Perception
7.46
1.42
4.74
1.80
2.02
3.44
1.51
7.63
0.000
Feelings
6.59
1.76
4.61
1.66
1.22
2.73
1.19
5.23
0.000
Needs
6.61
1.34
4.76
1.71
1.18
2.53
1.08
5.46
0.000
Demands
7,34
1.59
5.76
2.10
0.77
2.41
0.75
3.86
0.000
Types of verbal
abuse (violence)
7.29
2.42
4.22
1.89
2.12
4.03
1.62
6.41
0.000
Student response
to aggression
8.54
2.09
6.46
2.56
1.05
3.10
0.81
4.02
0.000
How to recognize
emotions
6.41
2.07
3.63
1.13
2.05
3.51
2.46
7.53
0.000
Conflict
resolution skills
6.98
2.15
4.29
2.42
1.68
3.69
1.11
5.31
0.000
Types of conflict
resolution
8.05
1.90
4.46
2.26
2.67
4.50
1.53
7.78
0.000
TOTAL
7.27
1,25
4.71
1.12
2.04
3.08
2.29
9.80
0.000
Schoolchildren who are obedient and meet their teachers’ demands without
questioning them are said to be exposed to violent communication. We cannot
expect them to have high level of motivation. Only when they participate in
classroom interaction as self-conscious participants who are not exposed to
violent communication can we talk about high level of motivation and classroom
engagement. Student engagement is pivotal for understanding academic (school)
motivation and achievement (Fredericks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004; Greenwood,
Horton, & Utley, 2002; Hughes, & Kwok, 2007; Ladd, Birch, & Buhs, 1999).
2018 71(8 )
53
The pre-test/post-test results and the differences between the experimental
and the control group provide solid basis to conclude, and thus to answer the main
research question, that 13 to 14 years old students can be trained in Nonviolent
Communication (NVC).
Table 4
Correlation of all NVC components (the experimental group, final measure)
Variable
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
1. Perception
1
2. Feelings
.02
1
3. Needs
.02
.03
1
4. Demands
.09
.40**
.02
1
5. Types of
verbal abuse
(violence)
.20
.53**
.45**
.47**
1
6. Student
response to
aggression
.17
.42**
.14
.52**
.62**
1
7. How to
recognize
emotions
.16
.54**
.14
.39**
.65**
.71**
1
8. Conflict
resolution
skills
.10
.22
.40**
.33*
.29*
.61**
.46**
1
9. Types of
conflict
resolution
.22
.13
.41**
.40**
.43**
.52**
.43**
.51**
1
10. NVC Final
score
.27*
.58**
.27*
.61**
.78**
.87**
.83**
.68**
.68**
1
Mean
7.46
6.59
5.68
6.61
7.29
8.54
6.41
6.98
8.05
7.27
Standard
deviation
1.42
1.76
1.79
1.34
2.42
2.09
2.07
2.15
1.90
1.25
Note: ** = significant at .01 level; * = significant at .05 level; NVC = Nonviolent Communication.
Correlation matrix in Table 4 indicates that the application of regression
analysis is justified. Regression analysis can be calculated only if correlations are
significant (Bryman & Cramer, 2001). The results of correlation matrix in our
study show that six variables significantly correlate with conflict resolution skills,
2018 71(8 )
54
so these variables can be subjected to regression analysis as predictors. Conflict
resolution skills is the most important component of NVC because it implies
someone’s ability to differentiate between observation and attribution, reflection
and reaction to other people’s opinion, feelings and actions of other people,
recognition of someone else’s needs and emotions, recognition of verbal violence,
proper response to verbal aggression, and application of adequate type of conflict
resolution. We followed that pattern of reasoning when we set conflict
resolution skills to be the dependent variable, whereas any variable that
significantly correlated with it was taken as predictor variable (Graph 1). Stepwise
method was used to complete multiple regression procedure (Braisby, 2005).
Needs Needs
Conflict resolution
skills
Styles of confli ct resol utio n Styles of confli ct resol utio n
How to recogn ize emoti on s How to recogn ize emoti on s
Stud ent respo nze to aggress ion Stud ent respo nze to aggress ion
Deeman d s Deeman d s
Types of verbal abuse Types of verbal abuse
r = .40
r = .61
r = .43
r = .83
r = .29
r = .33
Pearson’s
coeficient’s Beta
Graph 1: Multiple regression model
Upon the calculation of multiple regression, the variable student respone to
aggression was found to be the key predictor, with β = .61 and t-value t = 4.81
significant at .001 level. This explained 37% of the variance, R2 = .372. When
training students for NVC skills, the most important aspect of the program is to
teach them how to respond to aggression. Think first about the needs, thoughts
2018 71(8 )
55
and feelings of the other person when you are faced with verbal violence
(Rosenberg, 2003). Brilhart, Galanes, & Adams (2001) propose collaboration as
one of the five types of conflict resolution. Indeed, conflicts are not resolved by a
mere compromise like “We’ll live next to and refrain from abusing each other”.
Conflicts are settled only if people work together to resolve them, and rely on one
another. If we ever get in a situation to resolve, as a third party, conflict between
individuals or groups, it is recommended to do everything to make sure both sides
win (Grant, 1997). Our research findings and theoretical observations provided
herein point to the following three steps a comprehensive NVC intervention
program should contain: (1) train students how to recognize violent
communication, (2) teach them how to respond adequately to aggression, and (3)
provide training in conflict resolution skills.
The regression analysis performed in this study showed that the most
substantial component of NVC intervention program is teaching children how to
respond to aggression (verbal violence) in the most proper way. This contention
is what makes the second research question clarified student response to violent
communication is the key to conflict resolution, i.e. developing foundation for
Nonviolent Communication (NVC).
Discussion
The aim of this study was to document the results of a Nonviolent
Communication training program. According to its findings, the students who
participated in this intervention program showed significant improvements in
2018 71(8 )
56
response to aggression, which was the eighth component in of the NVC training
program. This is in line with Rosenberg’s three aspects of NVC: (1) self-empathy,
(2) empathy and (3) self-expression (Rosenberg, 2001). The students were first
encouraged to develop awareness of their own inner experience, and then they
were asked to perform role plays with examples of violent and nonviolent
communication, with an aim to learn how to properly react to violent
communication. The final stage of this intervention program consisted of conflict
resolution training. The third component of NVC is an advanced level of training
– it is greatly recommended but not without alternative for NVC acquisition skills.
Conflict resolution skills play a therapeutic role in NVC programs; the students
who acquire such skills will most probably very rarely resort to violent
communication.
The present study was drawing on the work of Sura Hart and Victoia Kindle
Hodson (2006), i.e. we made sure to strengthen interpersonal trust between
students and teachers, motitivate students to interact in groups without reward and
punishment, and provide that classroom environment was felt safe by the
participating students. The positive results were seen right from the start of the
program. We ended our workshops with questions like: Did you enjoy working
like this? Are you ready to work like this the next time we meet? This way we tried
to go beyond the conventional instilling of knowledge and order-giving practice in
classrooms we tried to encourage students to come up with their own
suggestions (Alfie Kohn, 1999).
2018 71(8 )
57
Student engagement is pivotal for learning effectiveness to take place. By
enabling all the students to actively participate in the research, we followed the
findings from a vast amount of research which suggests that classroom
engagement stands in close relation with students’ motivation (Furrer & Skinner,
2003; Marks, 2000; Reschly & Christenson, 2012; Reyes, Brackett, Rivers, White,
& Salovey, 2012). The achievements of the student groups were put up on the
poster during the entire course of the experiment. The groups remained the same
throughout the experiment, and in the end, we declared the group and individual
winners. We felt like they saw all this as game-playing, with no coercion or
pressure of any kind from our part. We were pleased with such a response, as it
was something we hoped for in the beginning.
The evidence in this study indicates that students aged 13 to 14 can be
successfully trained to apply Nonviolent Communication in order to improve
connection to others, with the most important component of NVC being the
proper way to respond to violent communicaiotn.
Several limitations require mention the length of the experiment, the level
of acquisition of students’ NVC skills, teacher’s response to the intervention
program. The entire program lasted for only eighteen 45-minute lessons, so we are
aware that a longitudinal format with the same subject matter would provide more
reliable research findings. The level of acquisition of students’ NVC skills mostly
relate to the component of student response to aggression, whereas the mastery of
component of conflict resolution skills was not given adequate attention to. The
students were taught to recognize the types of conflict resolution, but not how to
2018 71(8 )
58
acquire the skills needed for conflict resolution. The research did not deal with
teachers’ attitudes toward NVC intervention programs. It would also be
interesting to investigate the level of students’ performance and classroom
engagement following NVC training programs. These are all interesting lines of
research for future investigation.
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