The Problems in Schools Questionnaire (PIS)

On the following pages you will find a series of vignettes. Each one describes an incident and then lists four ways of responding to the situation. Please read each vignette and then consider each responses in turn. Think about each response option in terms of how appropriate you consider it to be as a means of dealing with the problem described in the vignette. You may might the option to be perfect‚ in other words‚ extremely appropriate in which case you would respond with the number 7‚. You might consider the response highly inappropriate‚ in which case would respond with the number 1. If you find the option reasonable you would se‎lect some number between 1 and 7. So think about each option and rate it on the scale shown below. Please rate each of the four options for each vignette. There are eight vignettes with four options for each.
There are no right or wrong ratings on these items. People’s styles differ‚ and we are simply interested in what you consider appropriate given your own style.
Some of the stories ask what you would do as a teacher. Others ask you to respond as if you were giving advice
to another teacher or to a parent. Some ask you to respond as if you were the parent. If you are not a parent‚ simply imagine what it would be like for you in that situation.
Please respond to each of the 32 items using the following scale.
very inappropriate
A . Jim is an average student who has been working at grade level. During the past two weeks he has appeared listless and has not been participating during reading group. The work he does is accurate but he has not been completing assignments. A phone conversation with his mother revealed no useful information. The most appropriate thing for Jim’s teacher to do is:
1.    She should impress upon him the importance of finishing his assignments since he needs to learn this material for his own good.
2.     Let him know that he doesn’t have to finish all of his work now and see if she can help him work out the cause of the listlessness.
3.    Make him stay after school until that day’s assignments are done.
4.    Let him see how he compares with the other children in terms of his assignments and encourage him to catch up with the others.
B. At a parent conference last night‚ Mr. and Mrs. Greene were told that their daughter Sarah has made more progress than expected since the time of the last conference. All agree that they hope she continues to improve so that she does not have to repeat the grade (which the Greene’s have been kind of expecting since the last report card). As a result of the conference‚ the Greenes decide to:
5.    Increase her allowance and promise her a ten-speed if she continues to improve.
6.    Tell her that she’s now doing as well as many of the other children in her class.
7.    Tell her about the report‚ letting her know that they’re aware of her increased independence in school and at home.
8.    Continue to emphasize that she has to work hard to get better grades.
C. Donny loses his temper a lot and has a way of agitating other children. He doesn’t respond well to what you tell him to do and you’re concerned that he won’t learn the social skills he needs. The best thing for you to do with him is:
9.    Emphasize how important it is for him to control himself in order to succeed in school and in other situations.
10.Put him in a special class which has the structure and reward contingencies which he needs.
11.Help him see how other children behave in these various situations and praise him for doing the same.
12.Realize that Donny is probably not getting the attention he needs and start being more responsive to him.
D.  Your son is one of the better players on his junior soccer team which has been winning most of its games. However‚ you are concerned because he just told you he failed his unit spelling test and will have to retake it the day after tomorrow. You decide that the best thing to do is:
13. Ask him to talk about how he plans to handle the situation.
14. Tell him he probably ought to decide to forego tomorrow’s game so he can catch up in spelling.
15. See if others are in the same predicament and suggest he do as much preparation as the others.
16. Make him miss tomorrow’s game to study; soccer has been interfering too much with his school work.
E.  The Rangers spelling group has been ha‎ving trouble all year. How could Miss Wilson best help the Rangers?
17. Have regular spelling bees so that Rangers will be motivated to do as well as the other groups.
18. Make them drill more and give them special privileges for improvements.
19. Have each child keep a spelling ch‎art and emphasize how important it is to have a good ch‎art.
20. Help the group devise ways of learning the words together (skits‚ games‚ and so on).
F.      In your class is a girl named Margy who has been the butt of jokes for years. She is quiet and usually alone. In spite of the efforts of previous teachers‚ Margy has not been accepted by the other children. Your wisdom would guide you to:
21. Prod her into interactions and provide her with much praise for any social initiative.
22. Talk to her and emphasize that she should make friends so she’ll be happier.
23. Invite her to talk about her relations with the other kids‚ and encourage her to take small steps when she’s ready.
24. Encourage her to observe how other children relate and to join in with them.
G.     For the past few weeks things have been disappearing from the teacher’s desk and lunch money has been taken from some of the children’s desks. Today‚ Marvin was seen by the teacher taking a silver dollar paperweight from her desk. The teacher phoned Marvin’s mother and spoke to her about this incident. Although the teacher suspects that Marvin has been responsible for the other thefts‚ she mentioned only the one and assured the mother that she’ll keep a close eye on Marvin. The best thing for the mother to do is:
25. Talk to him about the consequences of stealing and what it would mean in relation to the other kids.
26. Talk to him about it‚ expressing her confidence in him and attempting to understand why he did it.
27. Give him a good scolding; stealing is something which cannot be tolerated and he has to learn that.
28. Emphasize that it was wrong and have him apologize to the teacher and promise not to do it again.
H.  Your child has been getting average grades‚ and you’d like to see her improve. A useful approach might be to:
29. Encourage her to talk about her report card and what it means for her.
30. Go over the report card with her; point out where she stands in the class.
31. Stress that she should do better; she’ll never get into college with grades like these.
32. Offer her a dollar for every A and 50 cents for every B on future report cards.

Deci‚ E. L.‚ Schwartz‚ A. J.‚ Sheinman‚ L.‚ & Ryan‚ R. M. (1981). An instrument to assess adults’ orientations toward control versus autonomy with children: Reflections on intrinsic motivation and perceived competence. Journal of Educational Psychology‚ 73‚ 642-650.

Reeve‚ J.‚ Bolt‚ E.‚ & Cai‚ Y. (1999). Autonomy-supportive teachers: How they teach and motivate students. Journal of Educational Psychology‚ 91‚ 537-548.