Understanding Aggression:

Coping with Aggressive Behavior in the Classroom


Instructor Name:          Dr. Michael Sedler

Phone:                         509-891-7219

Office Hours:              8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST Monday - Friday

Email:                          michaels@virtualeduc.com

Address:                      Virtual Education Software

                                    16201 E Indiana Ave, Suite 1450

                                    Spokane, WA 99216

Technical Support:       support@virtualeduc.com



This course is about violence in America, about the aggression in our schools, classrooms, streets, homes and elsewhere. The course speaks to the hate, the fights, the anger, the crimes committed and the victims in our schools and society. It is a course about students, children, teenagers, adults and neighbors, all of us.


The course will consider the many forms of aggression, both criminal and otherwise; its costs and motivation; its perpetrators and targets; its likely and unlikely locations; its impact on our schools, the children; and, most especially, its several causes and promising solutions.


Topics of interest will include violence and the challenge of raising and working with children; aggression in our classrooms; American youth gangs and their influence; past and future sports violence; “hot spot” locations of frequent violence; and the aggression-promoting role of alcohol, temperature, driving, television and other features of modern life. The course also will answer questions such as:  Is aggression always bad? How do aggressive thoughts lead to aggressive actions? Is aggression, at least for some people, an addiction? Does the victim contribute to being attacked? Is dating a dangerous proposition? How are the acts of aggression dealt with in other countries, and are there any lessons for America?


The goal of this course is to help educators and adults in general better understand how aggression affects our lives and the lives of children. Hopefully such greater understanding and more skilled efforts at prevention will substantially reduce the aggression and violence that has become all too common in America’s schools.


This computer-based instruction course is a self-supporting program that provides instruction, structured practice, and evaluation all on your home or school computer.  Technical support information can be found in the Help section of your course.


Course Materials (Online)

Title:                Understanding Aggression: Coping with Aggressive Behavior in the Classroom      

Instructor:        Dr. Michael Sedler

Publisher:         Virtual Education Software, inc. 2002, Revised 2008, Revised 2010, Revised 2013


Academic Integrity Statement

The structure and format of most distance-learning courses presume a high level of personal and academic integrity in completion and submission of coursework. Individuals enrolled in a distance-learning course are expected to adhere to the following standards of academic conduct.


Academic Work

Academic work submitted by the individual (such as papers, assignments, reports, tests) shall be the student’s own work or appropriately attributed, in part or in whole, to its correct source. Submission of commercially prepared (or group prepared) materials as if they are one’s own work is unacceptable.


Aiding Honesty in Others

 The individual will encourage honesty in others by refraining from providing materials or information to another person with knowledge that these materials or information will be used improperly.


Violations of these academic standards will result in the assignment of a failing grade and subsequent loss of credit for the course.


Level of Application

This course is designed to be an informational course with application to work or work-related settings.  The intervention strategies are designed to be used with students having high aggression and violent tendencies, ranging in age from approximately three to eighteen years of age.


Course Objectives

1)      To review the history of aggression and how society came to be such an aggressive place

2)      To identify the causes of aggressive behavior, both internal and external

3)      To explain how aggression is expressed in various social settings such as schoolyards, classrooms, sports, homes, etc.

4)      To identify perpetrators and victims of aggression and violence

5)      To identify locations of high aggression and violence

6)      To provide solutions for reducing aggression and violence in classroom and other school settings

7)      To provide information on how educators can help students/children reduce feelings of aggression and violent tendencies


Course Description

The course, Understanding Aggression, has been divided into four chapters and five to ten exercises within each chapter. The first chapter reviews the history of aggression in America. It explains how we (the country) got to where we are in terms of aggression and violence. The chapter discusses the cost of aggression. It asks the question: Is America Safe? It discusses whether aggression is always bad. The chapter concludes with odds and ends and aggression in general.


The second chapter deals with how we have learned to be aggressive. It discusses how aggressive thoughts many times become aggressive actions. The course reviews the “us versus them” side of aggression and violence. Chapter 2 also deals with how alcohol, temperature and driving can increase aggression and violence. The chapter reviews the role of television and how TV may be a tutor for violent behavior. Is high aggression often found in people who tend to have low empathy? This chapter will discuss this issue. The chapter will also cover how words and teasing can be expressions and forms of aggression.


The third chapter centers on aggression and violence as crimes. It explores arson, assault and crimes of fear. The chapter also will discuss vigilante justice and/or injustice. Along with criminal aggression the chapter takes a look at guns and gangs in America’s schools; how bullying affects our schools and classrooms; how dress can affect acts of aggression and violence in schools and society. The chapter speaks to sexual harassment and the aggression involved with acts of harassment. There are also several sections on aggression and violence in the home, parental fighting and how this affects children in the home.


Chapter 4 speaks to working with and raising children to resist violence. It gives suggestions to educators and parents on how to deal with and counteract aggressive or violent behavior. This chapter deals with dating, and how it can be impacted by aggressive behavior and date violence. It speaks to how television affects the aggressive behavior of our children. The chapter reviews child tantrums, and what to do about them. Chapter 4 is summarized with several exercises on win-win scenarios for remediation and effective problem solving techniques.


The chapters and exercises are sequential and, although it is not required, they should be completed in the order in which they are presented in the program.   After completing these four chapters you should have a framework for understanding and working with aggressive behavior. This also may help you understand why students with high aggression are a challenge in a regular education setting.


After you complete each chapter of the course, an examination will be used to evaluate your knowledge and ability to apply what you’ve learned. An explanation of the examinations will be given later in this syllabus. 


Student Expectations 

As a student you will be expected to:

1)      Complete all information chapters covering aggression, showing a competent understanding of the material presented.

2)      Complete all examinations, showing a competent understanding of the material presented.

3)      Complete a review of any chapter on which your examination score was below 70%.

4)      Retake any examination, after completing an information review, to increase that examination score to a minimum of 70% (maximum of three attempts). *Please note: Minimum exam score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score requirements are.

5)      Complete a course evaluation form at the end of the course. 


Chapter 1: Introduction and Characteristics

·         Introduction

·         How Did We Get Here?

·         The Costs of Aggression

·         Is Aggression Always Bad?

·         America, the Safe


Chapter 2: Behaviors and Techniques

·         Learning to Be Aggressive

·         Us Versus Them

·         Aggressive Thoughts and Aggressive Actions

·         Low Empathy, High Aggression

·         Television as a Tutor:  Aggression 101

·         Alcohol and Aggression:  Courage in a Bottle

·         Does the Victim Help Cause Violence?

·         Words That Hurt

·         Hot Days, Hot Tempers

·         Auto Aggression

·         Jump! Jump! The Suicide-baiting Crowd


Chapter 3: Acts and Forms of Violence

·         The Journey to Crime

·         Other Acts of Aggression

·         Vigilante Injustice

·         Fear of Crime

·         The Home and Family

·         Sports Violence:  Past, Present and Future

·         Play Fighting and Real Fighting – Is there a Connection?

·         The Ride to and Through School:  Safe or Scary?

·         Teaching Prosocial Behavior to Antisocial Youth

·         A Short Course on Gangs


Chapter 4: Preventing Violence

·         Raising Children to Resist Violence

·         Tantrums

·         Nonaggressive Children From Aggressive Environments

·         Dating as a Dangerous Game

·         Let’s Both Calm Down, Then We’ll Talk

·         Take my Wife, Please

·         Why Is Aggression so Hard to Change?

·         Downsizing Deviance

·         Complex Problems Demand Complex Solutions

·         A Look to the Future



At the end of each chapter, you will be expected to complete an examination designed to assess your knowledge. You may take these exams a total of three times. Your last score will save, not the highest score.  After your third attempt, each examination will lock and not allow further access.  Your final grade for the course will be determined by calculating an average score of all exams.  This score will be printed on your final certificate.  As this is a self-paced computerized instruction program, you may review course information as often as necessary. You will not be able to exit any examinations until you have answered all questions. If you try to exit the exam before you complete all questions, your information will be lost. You are expected to complete the entire exam in one sitting.


Instructor Description

 Dr. Michael Sedler has presented seminars and classes throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada.  Dr. Sedler has worked as an administrator, behavior specialist, teacher and social worker within the public school setting.  Dr. Sedler is an adjunct professor for two universities in the state of Washington and has been a professor for a college in Georgia.  He has been a consultant for governmental agencies and worked for a state correctional facility for juveniles and for a community mental health agency.  His 15 years of public education experience combined with business experience increases his knowledge base for course delivery. He has presented in schools, hospitals, residential settings and for businesses in the public and private sectors. 


Contacting the Instructor

You may contact the instructor by emailing michaels@virtualeduc.com or by calling (509) 891-7219 Monday through Thursday. When calling during office hours messages will be answered within 24 hours. Phone conferences will be limited to ten minutes per student, per day, given that this is a self-paced instructional program. Please do not contact the instructor about technical problems, course glitches or other issues that involve the operation of the course.


Technical Questions

If you have questions or problems related to the operation of this course, please try everything twice. If the problem persists please check our support pages for FAQs and known issues at www.virtualeduc.com and also the Help section of your course.


If you need personal assistance then email support@virtualeduc.com or call (509) 891-7219.  When contacting technical support, please know your course version number (it is located at the bottom left side of the Welcome Screen) and your operating system, and be seated in front of the computer at the time of your call. 



Minimum Computer Requirements

Please refer to VESi’s website: www.virtualeduc.com or contact VESi if you have further questions about the compatibility of your operating system.


Refer to the addendum regarding Grading Criteria, Course Completion Information, Items to be Submitted and how to submit your completed information. The addendum will also note any additional course assignments that you may be required to complete that are not listed in this syllabus.


Bibliography (Suggested Readings)


Anthony, Michelle.  (2010).  Little girls can be mean.  New York, NY:  Macmillan.  Investigating social struggles in elementary age girls (grades 2-6).  www.macmillan.com  888-330-8477.


Carr, Tom. (2003). When all else fails. Chapin, SC: Youthlight, Inc.  Helping professionals with disruptive students (grades K-12).  www.youthlight.com    800-365-9774.


Carr, Tom. (2005). 141 creative strategies for reaching adolescents.  Chapin, SC: Youthlight, Inc.  Intervention approaches for teens (grades 5-12).  www.youthlight.com    800-365-9774.


Espelage, Dorothy. (2010).  Bullying in North American schools.  Florence, KY: Routledge.  Research-based book on violence in schools (grades k-12).  www.routledge.com    800-634-7064.


Fitzell, Susan Gringas. (2007). Transforming anger to personal power.  Champaign, IL: Research Press.  Teaching anger management (grades 6-12).  www.researchpress.com   800-519-2707.


Glasser, William. (1999). Choice Theory.  New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.  Evaluating one’s life and outlook. (Adults) www.harpercollins.com  800-242-7737.


Glick, Barry, & Gibbs, John. (2010). Aggression replacement training: A comprehensive intervention for aggressive youth (3rd ed.). Champaign, IL: Research Press.  Social skills manual for working with aggressive youth (grades 7-12).  www.researchpress.com  (800) 519-2707.


Greene, Ross. (2005). The explosive child.  Boys Town, NE: Boys Town Press.  Ideas for understanding and working with inflexible children and explosive situations (K-8).  www.boystownpress.org  800-282-6657.


Hudley, Cynthia. (2008). You did that on purpose.  New York, NY: The Guilford Press.  Strategies and interventions to reduce aggression.  (grades 4-12).  www.guilford.com   800-365-7006.


McFadden, Anna, & Cooper, Kathy. (2004). Leave no angry child behind.  Courage to Change. Chapin, SC: Youthlight. 160 proactive tips and strategies to reducing anger in students (grades K-12).    www.couragetochange.com   800-440-4003.


Nelsen, Jane, et al. (2006).  Positive Discipline Series. Empowering People Inc. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. Create cooperation and self-discipline in students (grades K-12, series).  www.empoweringpeople.com   800-456-7770.


Payne, Ruby. (2005).  A framework for understanding poverty.  Highlands, TX:  Aha! Process.  Understanding poverty and its impact on people (grades K-12).  www.ahaprocess.com   800-424-9484.


Simmons, Rachel. (2011). Odd girl out: The hidden culture of aggression in girls. New York, NY:  Harcourt Books.  Understanding the culture of aggression in girls (grades 7-12).  www.harcourtbooks.com   800-543-1918.


Vernon, Ann. (2006). Thinking, feeling, behaving.  Champaign, IL: Research Press.  Helping children address thoughts and consequences (grades K-12, series).  www.researchpress.com   800-519-2707.


Course content is updated every three years. Due to this update timeline, some URL links may no longer be active or may have changed. Please type the title of the organization into the command line of any Internet browser search window and you will be able to find whether the URL link is still active or any new link to the corresponding organization's web home page.


Updated  8/27/14 JN