Problem Statement: Literature reviews clearly document that students still show a tendency to use violence in resolving interpersonal conflicts in school. Results from various research conducted in Turkey suggest that violence, aggression, and bullying behaviors are still rampant in the primary and high schools. Studies conducted in primary and middle schools toward decreasing aggression and preventing violence focus on programs such as violence prevention, conflict resolution, and peer mediation. While these programs are mainly based on peacemaking strategy, prevention programs based on positive peace and peacebuilding strategy with tested effectiveness are rather limited. Thus, a peace education program based on positive peace and peacebuilding strategy was developed and its effects on aggression levels of sixth grade students were investigated.
Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of peace education program on sixth grade students‘ aggression. Furthermore, students‘ perspectives and experiences related to peace education program were examined.
Method: In the research conducted in two low-SES middle schools, an embedded mixed method design was used. The qualitative study was embedded within a pretest-posttest control group using a quasiexperimental design to learn more about the experiences of students who receive peace education training. The peace education program was applied on experimental group, while the control group has not been provided any treatment related to the research topic. The experimental group included 84 girls (53.85%), 72 boys (46.15%), and 156 students (59.54%) in total. The control group included 54 girls (50.94%), 52 boys (49.06%), and 106 students (40.46%) in total. The Aggression Questionnaire was used to gather quantitative data. After the experimental treatment process was completed, a total of 20 students were interviewed and their perspectives and experiences related to the peace education program were examined. A semi-structured interview form was used to obtain qualitative data.
Findings and Results: Research results indicated that aggression levels of the experimental group were significantly reduced compared to the control group students. Analyses of qualitative data provided evidence that the peace education program led to positive changes in student behaviors and improved relationships among and between students and teachers.
Conclusions and Recommendations: In the research, it was determined that the peace education program was effective in decreasing aggression levels of the sixth grade students. The findings in this study are parallel with the findings of previous experimental studies. Thus, the research validated the assumptions that implementing peace education programs in schools will enable students to gain fundamental life skills to constructively resolve interpersonal conflicts.
Keywords: Interpersonal conflict, violence, conflict resolution, negotiation, reconciliation.