Brenda ZackFollow




School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Veronica Sims


middle school, safety, school environment, student perceptions, School-wide Positive Behavior, SWPBS


Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Leadership | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration | Other Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to examine the perceptions of middle school students in schools that have implemented School-wide Positive Behavior Supports (SWPBS) at the universal tier with fidelity. Much of the research on SWPBS has focused on achievement gains, discipline improvement, implementation process, and school personnel perceptions. There was a lack of research regarding students' perceptions of their real-life experiences of SWPBS. The rationale for this study was that students' perceptions can assist in improving SWPBS implementation at the universal level and promote implementation for schools considering SWPBS. The central question was what meaning do middle school students ascribe to the SWPBS environment? A purposeful sample of students from three Pennsylvania middle schools implementing the universal tier of SWPBS with fidelity was selected for this study. This study used a phenomenological approach; therefore, data was collected via focus groups, interviews, and observations. Analysis of transcripts, significant statements, and contextual descriptions created a description of the essence of the students' experiences. Students' perceptions and experiences included having a positive school environment, receiving rewards and recognition, clarity of behavioral expectations, consequences for inappropriate behavior, and a feeling of safety. On the other hand, inconsistency among staff in the dissemination of rewards and discipline was also noted. Implications, limitations, and recommendations for further research are discussed.