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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy Trial of I Control: An Intensive Intervention to Improve Self-Regulation for Middle School Students with Emotional and Behavioral Problems
Center: NCSER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Smith, Stephen Awardee: University of Florida
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2018-06/30/2022) Award Amount: $3,292,300
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A180042

Co-Principal Investigators: Barber, Brian; Daunic, Ann, Splett, Joni

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to examine the efficacy of I Control, an intervention for middle school students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) that targets self-regulatory mechanisms collectively known as executive functioning skills (e.g., inhibiting impulses, maintaining information in working memory). Students who exhibit significant and chronic behavioral problems and are consequently placed in special education programs for EBD are typically the most difficult to teach and manage in the classroom setting. These students show persistent patterns of anti-social, maladaptive, and aggressive school behavior, which results in escalating conflict with adults, peers, and family members. As such, students with EBD frequently require intensive interventions to improve their ability to regulate their own behavior. I Control was developed with previous IES funding to teach middle school students with EBD in self-contained classrooms how to modify and control their behavior and engage in appropriate self-regulation in social situations. I Control has demonstrated feasibility of implementation by middle school teachers as well as promise for improving student self-regulation skills, but the efficacy of the intervention has not yet been tested. Thus, the current study will examine the efficacy of I Control for improving student behavioral and academic outcomes.

Project Activities: The researchers will conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to compare middle school students with EBD in self-contained settings receiving I Control to those receiving services as usual. One classroom serving students with EBD per school will be randomized to receive I Control or to receive services as usual. Data will be collected pre-treatment, post-treatment, and at one year follow-up. Treatment integrity (i.e., training fidelity and fidelity of implementation) will be monitored on an ongoing basis. Primary analyses will determine the efficacy of I Control for improving the behavioral and academic outcomes of students with EBD. Exploratory analyses will examine mediators of intervention response and the cost of implementing the intervention will also be examined.

Products: The products of this project will include evidence of the efficacy of I Control for middle school students with EBD, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in self-contained middle school classrooms in Florida and Ohio.

Sample: Approximately 640 middle school students with EBD in self-contained classrooms (across 92 schools) and their teachers will participate in the study.

Intervention: The I Control intervention, which includes both a teacher-delivered curriculum and a computer-based Brain Training Lab (BTL), was designed for implementation by middle school teachers in self-contained classrooms for students with EBD. The curriculum contains four instructional units and lessons aimed at introducing students to I Control and improving their executive function skills, self-regulation, emotion regulation, and problem solving. Each lesson lasts approximately 30 minutes and provides opportunities for direct instruction, modeling, role-playing, journaling, team-based activities, and independent practice. For more direct training of working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control, I Control lessons can be supplemented by the BTL for approximately 20-30 minutes each week. The BTL is a set of computerized games designed to improve specific executive function skills and a self-monitoring system, which provides students and teachers with feedback regarding skill use.

Research Design and Methods: The study will use a three-cohort cluster randomized controlled trial. One classroom serving students with EBD per school will be randomized to either the intervention or business-as-usual control condition. Data collection will be completed prior to and immediately after the intervention, as well at one-year follow-up to examine the efficacy of the intervention as well as variables (e.g., self-regulation, executive functioning) that may mediate intervention effects. The research team will also conduct a cost analysis to help schools and districts understand the monetary costs of implementing I Control (e.g., expenditures for personnel, facilities, professional development, client input, curricular materials).

Control Condition: In the control condition, students will receive business-as-usual instruction and services.

Key Measures: Student self-regulation and ability to manage emotions will be measured using the Emotion Regulation Index for Children and Adolescents, the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, Second Edition, Teacher Form, and aresearcher-developed I Control goal setting questionnaire. Students' social problem solving will be assessed with the Social Problem-Solving Inventory for Adolescents. Direct assessment of student neurological and behavior function will be conducted using the National Institutes of Health Toolbox. Students' behavioral and academic competence outcomes will be assessed with the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment, Direct Behavior Ratings, and Social Skills Improvement System. Fidelity will be assessed using multiple researcher-developed measures.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use multilevel analyses of covariance to examine the effect of I Control on student self-regulation, executive functioning, and general behavior and academic outcomes, and to explore potential mediators of intervention effects.

Related IES Projects: Development of I Control: An Executive Function Based Intervention to Foster Self-Regulation and Improve Social/emotional Outcomes for Middle School Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (R324A110182)