Effects of a peer training and mediation program on student mediators' emotional intelligence and generalization of conflict resolution skills
Benton, Boone Leonard
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According to the American School Counselor Association (ASCA, 2004), students need to learn conflict management skills and to develop abilities commensurate with Emotional Intelligence (EI). Peer mediation is an intervention inculcating conflict resolution education (CRE) and social emotional learning (SEL) principles (Jones, 2004). This dissertation explored the effectiveness and sustainability of conflict resolution training offered to high school students. The study examined if CRE could 1) enhance students’ EI and 2) increase students’ ability to generalize mediation skills. In a pretest/posttest, control group design, 37 peer mediators received a 2-day conflict resolution training at a state university; a control group of 37 Advanced Placement social studies students did not. Students were matched on the variables of age, gender, grade point average, ethnicity, and pretest scores on EI, as measured by the Assessing Emotions Scale (AES), and generalizing mediation skills, as measured by the Peer Mediator Generalizing Questionnaire (PMGQ). Posttests were administered after training and two and one half months later, after mediations were conducted. Repeated measures ANOVA was used to determine if the peer mediators had significant increases from pretest to posttests, and ANCOVA was employed to determine any significant gains compared to the control group. Results of the study indicated no significant differences were found in the peer mediators’ EI or generalization of mediation skills from the pretest to either posttests. Nor were the treatment group’s gains significantly different than gains in the control group. However, the peer mediators’ scores indicated some increases in both EI scores and mediation skill generalization at both posttests, although not statistically significant. The peer mediators increased implementation of particular mediation skills with family/friends, and their overall skill usage with family/friends (in and out of school). The current research validated previous studies of peer mediation unable to find statistically significant differences in peer mediators after training. The implementation of peer mediation training, a combination of CRE and SEL principles, could not be determined to have a constructive effect on the trained student mediators. Explanations for the results, along with limitations and school counseling implications are provided. Future research suggestions are discussed.