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IES Grant

Title: Evaluation of a Self-Monitoring Training Program for Elementary School Students
Center: NCER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Thompson, Aaron Awardee: University of Missouri, Columbia
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Context for Teaching and Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (8/1/2015-7/31/2019) Award Amount: $3,499,927
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A150517

Co-Principal Investigators: Wendy Reinke and Keith Herman

Purpose: In this study, the research team will test whether the Self-Monitoring Training and Regulation Strategy (STARS) intervention can improve behavior, social emotional learning skills, and academic performance for fifth grade students who engage in disruptive or otherwise challenging classroom behaviors. Up to 20% of elementary school students engage in behavior that is disruptive to learning for themselves and their classmates. STARS is a Tier 2 targeted intervention for students who need extra support to engage in positive classroom behaviors. School-based counselors or psychologists serve as STARS facilitators who work with these students to create personally-designed behavior plans in collaboration with the student's teacher. STARS facilitators provide students with direct instruction in social emotional learning skills and opportunities to practice these skills, receive feedback, and monitor their own performance.

Project Activities: In three consecutive cohorts, the research team will identify eligible fifth grade students through a two-step screening procedure. Researchers will randomly assign these students to be trained in the STARS program or to serve as controls. They will assess student outcomes throughout the intervention period to facilitate monitoring by the student and the teacher, immediately following the intervention period to determine if proximal effects are seen, and in the following school year after they have transitioned to middle school to determine if effects are sustained.

Products: The research team will produce evidence of the efficacy of STARS to improve social emotional learning skills, behavior and academic achievement of fifth grade students with disruptive classroom behavior. Researchers will l also produce peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in public elementary schools in a moderately sized city in central Missouri.

Sample: Approximately 324 fifth grade students in an anticipated 36 classrooms will participate across about 12 schools, and they will be followed as they transition to middle school. Fifth and sixth grade teachers of these students will also participate in data collection activities. Eligible students are the top 20% of students in the participating fifth grade classrooms with the highest level of disruptive behavior. Researchers will identify these students by teacher ratings on the Student Risk Screening Scale (SRSS). Once researchers identify students and receive consent to participate, the team will assess these students again on the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC-2) and those with the highest levels of disruptive behavior will be eligible to participate. Approximately 24 school-based student support personnel (i.e., counselors, psychologists, and social workers) will serve as STARS facilitators.

Intervention: The Self-Monitoring Training and Regulation Strategy (STARS) intervention is a manualized program used by school support personnel (counselors, psychologists, social workers) to help students with disruptive classroom behavior improve their social emotional learning skills, behavior, and academic performance. The program is hypothesized to promote feelings of autonomy, competence, and relationship supports for students, which are considered necessary to learn and adopt SEL skills, which in turn are expected to increase student motivation to adopt expected behaviors. The STARS program teaches students to self-assess and define the disruptive behaviors they engage in, write measurable behavioral goals to replace disruptive behavior with acceptable behavior, and observe, record and evaluate themselves on their progress. Student training consists of nine scripted lessons (e.g., Writing Measurable Goals to Implement Solutions, Reframing Mistakes as Part of Learning). Students and teachers monitor progress toward individual goals. School support personnel meet with STARS student groups (3–6 students per group) once per week for 20–25 minutes to review data from individualized goal sheets. Monitoring emphasizes a comparison of student and teacher data against individual goals. Following this review, students have an opportunity to revise goals which are then presented to the teacher in the form of a contract. This process is repeated each week to provide ongoing opportunities to practice, receive feedback, and fine-tune explicit behavioral expectations.

Research Design and Methods: In this study, researchers will randomly assign eligible students to receive the STARS intervention or to serve as controls over three consecutive school years in the participating schools. The research team will identify eligible fifth grade students through a two-step behavioral screening procedure. During the school year, the researchers will assess student outcomes on an ongoing basis to facilitate the monitoring process for each student and his or her teacher. The researchers will assess student outcomes immediately following the intervention period to determine if STARS has an impact on targeted student outcomes, and in the following school year after they have transitioned to middle school to determine if effects are sustained.

Control Condition: Students randomly assigned to the control group receive services typically provided to students with disruptive behaviors in the participating schools.

Key Measures: Researchers will measure classroom behavior using the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC-2) Behavioral and Emotional Screening System (BESS). The Multiple Option Observation System for Experimental Studies (MOOSES) Brief Classroom Interaction Observation system will be used to measure teacher-student interactions in the classroom. They will assess social emotional learning skills using the Student Risk Screening Scale (SRSS) and the Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale (BERS). They will measure academic achievement using the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement, 4th Edition (WJ-IV) and Missouri end of year assessments (MAP). The team will also make use of school record data (e.g., suspensions, attendance, special education referrals).

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use three-level random intercept and slope models to determine the impact of STARS on student outcomes. The team will test the theory of change underlying the program with mediation models using the two step product coefficient method with boot strapped errors and the Sobel test. Finally, they will explore the long term impact of STARS using multilevel growth models to examine outcomes in sixth grade after students transition to middle school.