Are Infractions for Minor Misbehavior Detrimental to Adolescents’ School Functioning? A Correlational Study of Developmental Processes and Individual Differences
Jamie Amemiya

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Pittsburgh

Primary Discipline

Although minor misbehavior is a natural byproduct of adolescent development, such misbehavior may be met with harsh punishment at school. For example, teachers may give adolescents official write-ups for minor misbehavior (i.e., “minor infractions”) to discourage future misbehavior. Though educators may believe that minor infractions will deter misconduct, theorists from developmental and social psychology perspectives argue that minor infractions will negatively impact adolescents’ school functioning in several ways. Adolescents may perceive minor infractions as overcontrolling and, in turn, react with defiant behavior that results in greater suspensions. This process may be exacerbated among adolescents who are already wavering in their connection to school. Moreover, teachers’ use of minor infractions may unfairly target and disproportionately affect racial minority adolescents. To investigate these hypotheses, this dissertation uses a rich longitudinal dataset of 729 adolescents’ school record and survey data over the course of one school year. Two longitudinal analytic strategies, latent class analyses and multilevel modeling, are used to test these hypotheses. With this dissertation, Jamie aims to uncover the developmental processes that may lead to more extreme punishments such as suspensions. Results may also elucidate where teacher professional development programs should focus their efforts, such as helping teachers adopt more culturally and developmentally sensitive behavior management practices.
About Jamie Amemiya
Jamie Amemiya is a doctoral candidate in the Developmental Psychology program at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research investigates how school contexts can support healthy psychosocial and academic development during adolescence. She integrates developmental, educational, and social psychology perspectives in her work. Her research has been published in Journal of School Psychology, Child Development Perspectives, and Journal of Research on Adolescence. Her current research focuses on how adolescents reason about and respond to academic and disciplinary feedback from teachers. She is especially interested in understanding these processes among adolescents from groups that have been historically stigmatized in school settings, such as racial and ethnic minority adolescents. Ultimately, she hopes that her research will inform how schools can better serve an increasingly diverse student population.

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