Pupil Control Ideology Form

Willower, D. J., et al. (1967). The school and pupil control ideology. University Park, PA: Penn State Studies Mono- graph No. 24.


The 20-item Pupil Control Ideology (PCI) provides an operational measure for pupil control orientation. Control ideology ranges on a continuum from custodial to humanistic. The authors state that as a result of the item analysis, only two items out of 20 were representative of the humanistic orientation. Another instrument, the Pupil Control Behavior (PCB) Form was developed by Helsel and Willower. The PCB measures educators’ pupil control behavior on the same continuum as the PCI. The PCB is usually completed by students.

Scale Construction:

Based upon a review of the literature, the author’s experience in the public schools, the operational definition of pupil control ideology, and field notes from a prior study, 57 items were written. This original form of the PCI was administered to a sample of 58 people. Through item analysis, a 38-item form was developed. As a result of the pilot studies, the number of items that were positive to the humanistic orientation was eliminated. Based on the item analysis, 20 out of 38 items were retained because they had biserial correlation coefficients greater than 0.325.


The original sample consisted of a combination of 58 graduate students in education and inservice teachers. The revised form was administered in seven schools in New York and Pennsylvania. Five elementary and two secondary schools participated from urban, suburban, and rural areas. One elementary and one secondary school were selected because of their reputation as “humanistic” schools. Overall, 170 teachers responded.


A split-half reliability coefficient of 0.91 was obtained by correlating even-item subscores with odd-item subscores. The corrected reliability coefficient was 0.95. An additional reliability test was done using only one el- ementary school and one secondary school (55). This yielded a coefficient of 0.83 and a corrected coefficient of 0.91. Validity: Principals identified approximately 15 percent of their faculties as having either a custodial ideology or a humanistic ideology. Then, the mean scores of these teachers on the PCI was compared. T-tests were performed to see if teachers considered to have a custodial ideology differed from those teachers considered to have a humanistic ideology. The results were significant at the 0.01 level. In addition, a cross-validation study using the seven schools was conducted. The results were significant at the 0.001 level.

Definition of Dimensions:

The custodial orientation is similar to the traditional school, which is characterized by a highly controlled setting; the maintenance of order; students are considered to be irresponsible and undisciplined; relationships with students are impersonal; pessimism and mistrust prevail; the school is viewed as an autocratic organization; and power and communication flow downward. The humanistic orientation views the school as an educational community in which interaction and experience guide its members; learning is viewed as a worthwhile activity in and of itself; relationships with students are personal; teachers are optimistic; teachers want to make the classroom climate democratic; and there are open channels of communication.

Data Analysis:

Means, standard errors squared, and the results of t-tests for each major hypothesis tested are presented.


Carr, M. M. (2003). An investigation into implementation of the Mini-SocietyRTM instructional program. PhD dissertation, University of Kansas.

Heineman, D. L. (2007). An analysis of the relationship between zero tolerance attitude and pupil control ideology. EdD dissertation, Pennsylvania State University.

Pappalardo, P. (2010). Teacher behavior and attitude and student writing apprehension. DEd dissertation, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Rideout, G. (2006). An examination of the predictive power of demographic, experiential and philosophical orientation variable clusters in relation to change and stability of pre-service teachers’ pupil control ideology. PhD dissertation, University of Windsor (Canada).

Woolfolk, A. E., et al. (1990). Teachers’ sense of efficacy and their beliefs about managing students. Teaching and Teacher Education 6:137–48.

Pupil Control Ideology Form

1. It is desirable to require pupils to sit in assigned seats during assemblies.
2. Pupils are usually not capable of solving their problems through logical reasoning.
3. Directing sarcastic remarks toward a defiant pupil is a good disciplinary technique.
4. Beginning teachers are not likely to maintain strict enough control over their pupils.
5. Teachers should consider revision of their teaching methods if these are criticized by their pupils.
6. The best principals give unquestioning support to teachers in disciplining pupils.
7. Pupils should not be permitted to contradict the statements of a teacher in class.
8. It is justifiable to have pupils learn many facts about a subject even if they have no immediate application.
9. Too much pupil time is spent on guidance and activities and too little on academic preparation.
10. Being friendly with pupils often leads them to become too familiar.
11. It is more important for pupils to learn to obey rules than that they make their own decisions.
12. Student governments are a good safety valve, but should not have much influence on school policy.
13. Pupils can be trusted to work together without supervision.

14. If a pupil uses obscene or profane language in school, it must be considered a moral offense.
15. If pupils are allowed to use the lavatory without getting permission, this privilege will be abused.
16. A few pupils are just young hoodlums and should be treated accordingly.
17. It is often necessary to remind pupils that their status in school differs from that of teachers.
18. A pupil who destroys school material or property should be severely punished.
19. Pupils cannot perceive the difference between democracy and anarchy in the classroom.
20. Pupils often misbehave in order to make the teacher look bad.


A five-point Likert-type scale is used. Strongly Agree = 5; Agree = 4; Undecided = 3; Disagree = 2; and Strongly Disagree = 1. The scoring is reversed for the two positive items representing the humanistic ideology (5 and 13). The higher the score, the more custodial the orientation. The lower the score, the more humanistic the orientation.