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IES Grant

Title: BEST in CLASS-Web: A Web-Based Intervention Supporting Early Childhood Teachers' Use of Evidence-Based Practices with Young Children at Risk for Emotional/Behavioral Disorders
Center: NCSER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Conroy, Maureen Awardee: University of Florida
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (8/1/2016-7/31/2019) Award Amount: $1,499,999
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A160158

Co-Principal Investigator: Kevin Sutherland (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop a web-based version of an existing Tier 2 intervention, Behavioral, Emotional, and Social Training: Competent Learners Achieving School Success (BEST in CLASS or BiC) that targets the reduction of problem behavior of young children at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). BiC was designed to be delivered face-to-face in early childhood classrooms, which may restrict accessibility for early childhood programs with limited personnel or financial resources to support the program, or for programs in geographically remote locations where face-to-face interventions face logistical challenges. In addition, on-site delivery of professional development may be less convenient for busy teachers. To respond to these needs, the research team will develop a web-based version of the BiC intervention (BiC-W) to increase the accessibility, flexibility, usability, and scalability of the intervention for early childhood teachers working with young children at risk for EBD.

Project Activities: The team will use an iterative process to develop BiC-W. In Year 1, the researchers will modify BiC training and coaching materials based on feedback from teachers and families. They will also develop the website on which the intervention will be hosted. In Year 2, the researchers will train and coach teachers using this preliminary version of BiC-W, and gather feedback from teachers to learn more about the usability, feasibility, and promise of the web-based version. In Year 3, the researchers will conduct a pilot test of BiC-W by randomly assigning teachers to the BiC-W or original BiC condition to determine the promise of the web-based adaptation compared to the original BiC for improving teacher practice and behavior and student academic performance.

Products: This project will produce a fully developed web-based intervention of BiC-W for early childhood teachers to improve teacher practices and children's social, emotional, and academic outcomes; peer reviewed publications; and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will take place in early childhood centers in Florida and Virginia.

Sample: In Year 1, 16 teachers (8 teachers with previous BiC intervention experience and 8 without BiC experience) will participate in focus group and 4 early childhood program administrators will participate in structured interviews. Twelve teacher education students from local early childhood teacher preparation programs will participate in usability and feasibility testing overs Years 1 and 2. Thirty-six early childhood teachers and 72 children ages 3-5 who are at risk for EBD will participate in the Phase 3 pilot study. Children who demonstrate cognitive developmental delays will be excluded.

Intervention: BiC-W will be a modified version of the current BiC intervention, which was developed and tested for efficacy with previous IES funding. BiC is a strengths-based, manualized intervention model that targets the prevention and amelioration of problem behaviors demonstrated by young children at risk for EBD in early childhood classrooms. This intervention combines evidence-based behavioral strategies with a coaching model designed to optimize implementation by teachers of preschool-age children. For BiC-W, all components will be delivered via an interactive website. Training consists of a 6-hour workshop that uses didactic and interactive learning activities supported by video examples of and opportunities to practice behavior management strategies. Following the workshop, teachers receive a training manual (comprised of seven modules on evidence-based practices aimed to improve child engagement, prevent problem behaviors, and develop positive teacher-child interactions) and 14 weeks of practice-based coaching designed to increase the quality and quantity of their use of BiC practices. BiC increases teachers' use and quality of specific behavioral and instructional strategies, provision of positive attention, general classroom management skills, and sense of self-efficacy to enhance the quality of teacher-child relationships and the classroom environment.

Research Design and Methods: In Phase 1, the researchers will adapt BiC training and coaching materials based on focus groups of teachers and interviews with program administrators. Materials will be adapted to make them appropriate for web-based usage and adaptable for early childhood programs with differing technological capacities. The research team will also develop the website so BiC can be delivered over the Internet. In Phase 2, the researchers will further refine the BiC-W website and materials and conduct usability and feasibility studies in order to prepare for a full version for pilot testing. Feedback from teachers as well as teacher and student outcome data will be used to inform revisions to the model. In Phase 3, the researchers will conduct a multisite cluster randomized pilot study to determine the promise of BiC-W for improving teacher practice and behavioral and academic outcomes of students at risk for EBD.

Control Condition: Teachers in the comparison group will receive the original BiC intervention. In this condition, teachers will receive the same components but delivered on-site and face-to-face in their classrooms.

Key Measures: The Early Screening Project will be used as a student behavioral screening measure. The researchers will measure student academic achievement (Social Skills Improvement System Rating Scales, or SSIS), executive function (Peg Tapping Task, Backward Word Span Task, Dimensional Change Card Sort), behavior (SSIS), and social skills (SSIS, Child Behavior Checklist Teacher Report Form). They will assess teacher self-efficacy (Teachers' Sense of Self-Efficacy Scale); knowledge of, comfort level with, and willingness for online learning (Adapted Readiness for Online Coaching and Internet Self-Efficacy Scale); attitudes and preferences for online coaching (Adapted Attitudes Towards the Use of Computer-Based Technology in Coaching and Preference for Systematic Approach in Coaching survey); and teacher acceptability and satisfaction (researcher-developed scale). Teacher-coach alliances will be assessed using the Practice-Based Coaching Working Alliance Inventory-R. Teacher-child classroom interactions will be assessed using the Individualized Classroom Assessment Scoring System (inCLASS). Teacher-child relationships will be assessed using the Student Teacher Relationship Scale and inCLASS. The researchers will also collect usability and feasibility data throughout the study.

Data Analytic Strategy: In Years 1 and 2, the researchers will use qualitative data analytic techniques to analyze the focus group and interview data to identify emerging patterns and themes. In Year 2, the researchers will conduct descriptive analyses to identify any changes in teacher and student outcomes from baseline to post-intervention and to examine fidelity and usability. In Year 3, the researchers will conduct a multilevel mixed-model analysis of covariance to examine main effects in the pilot study. In addition, the team will conduct equivalence testing to provide evidence about the equivalence of BiC-W and BiC. The team will also conduct cost comparisons to determine whether BiC-W is less costly than BiC.

Related IES Projects: Promoting Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence in Young High-Risk Children: A Preventative Classroom-Based Early Intervention Model (R324A080074); Efficacy of the BEST in CLASS Intervention for Young Children at High Risk for Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (R324A110173); BEST in CLASS-Elementary: A Preventative Classroom-based Intervention Model (R305A150246)