Teaching Principled negotiation skills to parents and their children : the impact of parental involvement /
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This study explored the impact of training parents and children concurrently in principled negotiation skills for the purpose of developing negotiation skills and problem solving abilities in children. A second experimental group was utilized to determine the viability of negotiation skills training of junior elementary students for the purpose of improving problem solving and conflict resolving abilities. The student population in each experimental group was trained using The Program for Young Negotiators (Curhan, 1996). A control group was also established using the remaining grade four and five students attending the participating school. These students did not receive training as part of this study. Student group distribution was as follows: Experimental group 1 (students with parent participant) consisted of 10 (5 grade five and 5 grade 4 students), Experimental group 2 students without parent participant) consisted of 48 (20 grade 4 and 28 grade 5 students), and the Control group 3 (55 grade 4 and 5 students). The impact of training was measured using the Five Factor Negotiation Scale developed for use with the Program for Young Negotiators (Curhan, 1996). This measure was employed as a pre- and post-test questionnaire to the total student population, (113 students) to determine levels of ability in each of the key elements of negotiation, personal initiative, collaboration, communication, conflict based perspective taking, and conflict resolution approach (Nakkula & Nikitopoulos, unpublished). This measure has a coefficient alpha of .75 which is acceptable for this type of affective instrument. As well, open ended ability questions designed to measure ability, knowledge, and behaviour as they relate to negotiation skill application were given to the total student population, (113 students). Finally, journals were maintained by the students in both experimental groups, and informal feedback discussions were held with students and parents participating in the study.The intent of using both qualitative and quantitative measures was to provide an overall perspective of student abilities as they related to principled negotiation skills. While the quantitative measures were from the student perspective, more qualitative information was sought from parents and teachers through informal interviews, discussions, and use of confidential feedback cards. For analysis purposes, the ability questions were randomly selected for Experimental group 2 and Control group 3 in an effort to balance the groups more equitably with Experimental group 1. The findings of this study indicate that students of the junior elementary school age can be taught how to perceive conflict in a more constructive way. However, they are not as likely to use their skills when the conflict is with a sibling as they are with a peer, a teacher, or a parent. While no statistically significant differences between mean scores for Experimental groups 1 and 2 exist some subtle differences are noted. Overall, increases in mean scores for grade 4 students exceeded the increases for grade 5 students within Experimental group 1 . The implication being that younger students benefit more from having a parent trained in principled negoUation skills than older students. The skill level of a parent in principled negotiation can not be underesUmated. Without a consistent and effective role model the likelihood of developing student skill level to a point of automaticity is greatly reduced. Enough so that perhaps the emphasis should be placed on training parents more so than the students.