Student Behavior in Context: Examining School Practice Contributions to Behavioral Peer Effects
Rebecca Hinze-Pifer

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Chicago

Primary Discipline

Behavioral peer effects are often cited as a primary rationale for classroom and school discipline policy. While there is strong empirical support for the notion that students are affected by the behavior of their peers (Epple & Romano, 2011; Lazear, 2001), relatively little work has explored the precise pathways through which they operate. A careful exploration of the mechanisms underlying peer effects is a necessary next step in furthering theory building, interpreting existing results, and translating research findings into useful insights for teacher practice and education (Epple & Romano, 2011; Hoxby & Weingarth, 2005). My dissertation is comprised of three studies examining different dimensions of school and teacher behavior management practice as mechanisms through which behavioral peer effects may operate. Two of the studies draw data from the Measures of Effective Teaching classroom video collection and associated administrative data to explore (1) the extent to which disruptive behaviors directly interrupt classroom activities and induce proximal changes in teacher practice, and (2) the associations between teacher’s specific classroom management strategies, student learning growth, and student reports of classroom climate. Using full-universe administrative data from the Chicago Public Schools, the third explores how a long-term shift in school suspension policy impacted student outcomes and reports of school climate. Together, these studies substantially contribute to our understanding of the relationship between school practice and the mechanisms underlying established behavioral peer effects, as well as documenting important dimensions of classroom management and time use which are not established elsewhere in available literature.
About Rebecca Hinze-Pifer
Rebecca Hinze-Pifer is a doctoral student at the Harris School of Public Policy. Her research focuses on institutional structures that affect human capital development in adolescents and young adults, with particular interest in the education and juvenile justice systems. Her current work applies rigorous empirical methods to explore the impacts of school and classroom practices on student learning and socioemotional development, with the aim of developing policy and practice-relevant insights. Rebecca was a Pre-Doctoral IES Fellow, an AERA-MET fellow, and is a Doctoral Fellow at the Urban Education Lab. She holds an MPP from George Washington University and a B.S. in astrophysics and computer science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and worked as a public school teacher for seven years.

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