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IES Grant

Title: Development and Pilot Evaluation of Bully Prevention Training Modules for Special and General Education Teachers: Impact on Teacher Awareness, Self-Efficacy, and Student Outcomes
Center: NCSER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Espelage, Dorothy Awardee: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Program: Educators and School-Based Service Providers      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2019 - 06/30/2023) Award Amount: $1,397,129
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A190238

Previous Award Number: R324A190103
Previous Institution: University of Florida

Co-Principal Investigators: Rose, Chad; Forber-Pratt, Anjali; Poekert, Philip

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to build a professional development program to enhance elementary school educators' knowledge and skills for identifying, mitigating, and preventing bullying among students with and without disabilities. A large portion of students in the U.S. report experiencing bullying, with the highest rates occurring among students with or at risk for disabilities. Despite current policies mandating schools to address bullying and research showing that most teachers report a need for training on how to respond to bullying, there are no effective, scalable professional development programs that focus on how to address bullying among students at greatest risk for involvement. The current project aims to fill this void by developing a training program that improves general and special education teachers' knowledge and skills around identifying and responding to bullying as well as students' academic and behavioral outcomes.

Project Activities: The research team will develop and pilot test the professional development program. In the first 2 years, four professional development online modules will be developed with input from general and special education teachers and administrators. The research team will obtain input from researchers with expertise in special education, teacher preparation and professional development, and online learning to inform the development and revision of the professional development program. The modules will then be pilot tested in a small-scale randomized waitlist-controlled trial in six elementary schools. In the final year, modules will be released to the schools assigned to the control group, data will be analyzed, and findings will be disseminated.

Products: This project will result in a fully developed professional development program to improve teachers' knowledge and skills around identifying and addressing bullying. The project will result in peer-reviewed publications and presentations as well as additional dissemination products that reach education stakeholders such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in elementary schools in Florida.

Sample: Approximately 32 educators (including general and special education teachers in grades K-5) and administrators with expertise in working with students with disabilities and an advisory board of five researchers with expertise in special education, teacher preparation and professional development, and online learning will participate in development activities. Approximately 72 teachers and their students with and without disabilities will participate in the pilot study.

Intervention: The project will result in an online professional development program that includes four modules and coaching on how to recognize, respond to, and report bullying. The online modules will include an explicit focus on students with or at risk for disabilities and will cover the following topics: (1) understanding bullying, including the definition, types, student roles, and how it develops; (2) examining risk characteristics, including the prevalence, warning signs, and risk factors; (3) establishing school-wide and classroom prevention; and (4) individual prevention, including supporting unique needs, understanding behavior functions and skill development and implementing individualized interventions, and understanding legal obligations. Each module will contain videos and provide guidance for applying the content addressed in the module. The program will also include a virtual coaching component to provide teachers with feedback and reinforce content presented in the modules.

Research Design and Methods: In the first 2 years of this project, the professional development modules and coaching plan will be developed and refined with input from an advisory board of researchers and focus groups with educators. In Year 3, the research team will conduct a pilot study using a small randomized controlled trial to assess the program's promise for improving teacher practices and student outcomes. Three schools (36 classrooms) will be assigned to the intervention and the other three (36 classrooms) to the waitlist control group. Data will be collected from teachers and students pre- and post-intervention to examine the promise of the professional development program for improving teacher outcomes (ability to identify bullying and select appropriate interventions, self-efficacy, stress and job satisfaction, and classroom management) and student outcomes (bullying perpetration, peer victimization, academic achievement, school attitudes, and social/emotional behavior). Data on the acceptability and fidelity of the program will be collected throughout the pilot study. In Year 4, the research team will use focus groups to elicit additional feedback from 16 intervention teachers who implemented the intervention in the pilot study to obtain final feedback on the intervention and how well the modules align with their knowledge and expertise.

Control Condition: For the pilot study, schools and teachers in the waitlist control group will continue with business-as-usual practices around bullying prevention and intervention. They will be provided access to the modules in the final year of the project.

Key Measures: Teacher outcomes will be measured using researcher-developed knowledge assessments that are embedded within each module as well as a pre- and post-test measure within the modules to determine teachers' ability to identify bullying and select appropriate interventions. Teachers will complete questionnaires on the school environment as it relates to bullying, their own self-efficacy, stress and job satisfaction, and classroom management. Teachers will also complete surveys on students' social, emotional, and academic behavior as well as teacher-student relationships. A subset of older students in grades 3-5 will complete measures on their teachers' effectiveness as well as their own experiences with bullying and school attitudes and relationships. School records on each participating student will provide data on demographic information, attendance, academic achievement, behavior, disability status and type, and special education services and placement. To assess the acceptability and fidelity of the program, as well as to continuously improve the modules, participant teacher satisfaction surveys will be collected end of each module. Teachers will also evaluate the usability and feasibility of the program using an observation checklist for professional development training. Engagement in and fidelity of the professional development program will be measured by backend user information from the online platform, including the number of logins, duration of logins, and duration devoted to module components.

Data Analytic Strategy: Focus group audio data will be transcribed and coded using a grounded theory approach. Analyses of the pilot study data will use a multilevel modeling approach to account for the inherent structure of students nested within classrooms and classrooms nested within schools, as well as control for student baseline characteristics such as gender, race/ethnicity, or disability. These models will examine the direct effect of the intervention on teacher and student outcomes as well as the extent to which teacher behavior mediates intervention impacts and intervention fidelity and school environment factors moderate intervention impacts. Descriptive analyses will be conducted to summarize intervention fidelity, usability, feasibility, and acceptability. The research team will also conduct cost and cost-effectiveness analyses.