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Institute of Education Sciences


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IES Grant

Title: Examining the Efficacy of a Classroom-Wide Model for Promoting Social Emotional Development and Addressing Challenging Behavior in Preschool Children with or at-risk for Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2012
Principal Investigator: Hemmeter, Mary Louise Grantee: Vanderbilt University
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning in Special Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 03/01/2012–02/29/2016 Award Amount: $3,499,978
Goal: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A120178
Description:

Co-Principal Investigators: Lise Fox (University of South Florida), Patricia Snyder (University of Florida), and James Algina (University of Florida)

Purpose: Researchers have noted that children are entering elementary school without the behavior skills that are necessary for success. Social and behavior challenges that are not resolved during the early childhood years may lead to problems with socialization, school adjustment, and educational success in later grades. Intervention in preschool may help ameliorate the social, emotional, and behavioral challenges that preschoolers can display which may lead to negative outcomes in the future.

The research team is conducting a randomized controlled trial designed to address this concern. This research will evaluate whether a comprehensive, classroom-wide preschool intervention system, called Teaching Pyramid, promotes social skills, reduces challenging behavior, and enhances the school readiness of young children with and without disabilities. The research team will also investigate whether teachers continue to use the Teaching Pyramid system in the year after the research support has ended.

Project Activities: A randomized controlled trial will be used to study the efficacy of the Teaching Pyramid system. Approximately 80 preschool classrooms will be randomly assigned to the Teaching Pyramid system or to practices as usual. The Teaching Pyramid system contains universal strategies for supporting the social-emotional development of all children in the classroom and intensified interventions for children who are at risk for problem behavior or display severe and persistent challenging behavior. While the Teaching Pyramid system will be used with all students in the preschool classroom, the research team is specifically targeting children with or at risk for emotional or behavior disorders in these classrooms. Targeted children will be assessed before, during, and immediately after intervention. Other children in the classroom will be assessed pre- and post-intervention. Multi-level modeling will be used to estimate the effects of Teaching Pyramid on social skills, behavior, and early learning of all students in the classroom, with particular focus on those at risk for behavior concerns. The team will also investigate whether classroom quality or teacher practices improve and whether teachers sustain implementation of the intervention in the year after the research support has ended.

Products: The products of this project include published reports on the efficacy of Teaching Pyramid for improving social competence, behavior, and learning outcomes for preschoolers with and without disabilities.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research project will take place in preschool classrooms in Tennessee and Florida.

Sample: Approximately 80 preschool classrooms will participate. While the Teaching Pyramid system will be used with all students in the preschool classroom, the research team is specifically targeting children with or at risk for emotional or behavior disorders in these classrooms.

Intervention: The Teaching Pyramid system is a comprehensive, three-tiered framework that includes universal practices for all children, secondary practices for children at risk for behavior problems, and intensive individualized practices for children with the most significant social skills deficits and persistent challenging behavior. The universal component will include implementation of strategies designed to create supportive and structured environments as well as nurturing and responsive relationships. The secondary prevention component will teach students at risk for challenging behavior and emotional or behavioral disorders how to express their emotions, promote self-regulation, handle anger and disappointment, and use problem solving and friendship skills. The third component will involve collaboration with other school personnel to develop and implement individualized, assessment-based, positive behavior interventions and supports. Teachers will participate in a 3-day workshop series that introduces them to the practices associated with each level of the intervention. They will also receive 16 on-site coaching sessions. The teachers will implement the Teaching Pyramid system in their classrooms for 26 weeks.

Research Design and Methods: A randomized controlled trial will be used to study the efficacy of the Teaching Pyramid system. Classrooms will be randomly assigned to the Teaching Pyramid system or to implement practices as usual. Targeted children will be assessed before, during, and immediately after intervention. Other children in the classroom will be assessed pre- and post-intervention. Information on the fidelity of intervention implementation and changes in teacher practices and classroom quality will be collected in intervention and comparison classrooms. The researchers will also observe the preschool classrooms during the year following intervention implementation to evaluate whether teachers sustain implementation of the Teaching Pyramid system without support from the researchers.

Control Condition: Teachers will implement their typical classroom practices.

Key Measures: Key outcomes include teacher ratings and researcher observations of social competence and behavior as well as direct child assessments of learning outcomes for preschoolers with and without disabilities. The researchers will also collect data on child and teacher characteristics, fidelity of implementation, teacher practices, and classroom quality.

Data Analytic Strategy: Multi-level modeling will be used to estimate the effects of the Teaching Pyramid system on social skills, behavior, and early learning of all students in the classroom, with particular focus on those at risk for behavior concerns. The team will also investigate whether classroom quality or teacher practices improve and whether teachers sustain implementation of the intervention in the year after research support has ended.

Publications from this project:

Fox, L., Hemmeter, M. L., & Snyder, P. S. (in press). Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool for Preschool Classrooms (TPOT), Research Edition. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Hemmeter, M. L., Fox, L., & Snyder, P. S. (in press). Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool for Preschool Classrooms (TPOT) Manual, Research Edition. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Snyder, P. A., Hemmeter, M. L., Fox, L., Bishop, C. C., & Miller, M. D. (in press). Developing a fidelity instrument and gathering preliminary psychometric evidence: A case example using the Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool-Pilot Version. Journal of Early Intervention.


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