Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Michael W. Wischnowski, PhD

Second Supervisor

Donna C. Riter, EdD


Restorative practice (RP) improves student learning by focusing on repairing relationships after acts of wrongdoing rather than administering punitive discipline. However, barriers frequently occur when implementing RP in American K-12 public schools. Thus, the purpose of this doctoral project was to acquire an understanding of the barriers impeding RP implementation. A literature review was conducted using the qualitative research synthesis (QRS) strategy to find appropriate RP qualitative studies for analysis with the normalization process theory (NPT) framework and analytic technique. Four RP qualitative research studies were found with QRS that met the appraisal criteria for NPT analysis. The emerging themes from the NPT analysis identified barriers to RP implementation and strategies to avoid them. The primary barrier was the resistance by educators to change from using punitive discipline to RP after students committed acts of wrongdoing. This resistance to change was due to educators not understanding RP and its tenets as well as holding onto entrenched beliefs regarding student discipline. The preemptive strategy for preventing this barrier was having educators participate in RP circles before, during, and after the RP implementation process. The participation in RP circles helped educators shift their beliefs towards an understanding of RP’s efficacy in dealing with student misbehavior. A prospective study is needed to determine if the preemptive strategy actually prevents the resistance-to-change barrier. However, the qualitative data found by integrating QRS and NPT for this project provided a better understanding as to why RP implementation has been so challenging in K-12 education.

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