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IES Grant

Title: Universal Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention for Elementary Students to Reduce Disruptive/Aggressive Behavior
Center: NCSER Year: 2006
Principal Investigator: Smith, Stephen Awardee: University of Florida
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 8/1/2006 to 7/31/2010 Award Amount: $1,625,469
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324B060029
Description:

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to determine whether a cognitive-behavioral problem-solving curriculum focused on anger management and implemented by school personnel in classroom settings improves student behavioral outcomes related to positive social adjustment and school success. Researchers have found that teaching cognitive strategies through cognitive-behavioral intervention can decrease student disruption/aggression and strengthen pro-social behavior. Many such interventions incorporate components difficult for typical schools to sustain without external support. Thus, there is a need to determine whether a feasible, sustainable, cost-effective intervention can effectively alter negative behaviors and thereby improve social outcomes for students at risk.

Project Activities: The researchers are examining the efficacy of the intervention "Tools for Getting Along (TFGA): Teaching Students to Problem Solve". This universal, sustainable, and classroom-based intervention consists of a 26-lesson program designed to teach 4th and 5th grade students to replace disruptive/aggressive behaviors with more socially constructive choices through use of social problem solving. Net gains from TFGA will be evaluated by comparing outcomes in treatment and control schools using multi-level hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) to accommodate three levels of nested data: Individual students at level-1, classrooms at level-2, and schools at level-3. The researchers will collect data in "business-as-usual" control classrooms and schools to identify possible contaminating variables. Measures given pre and post intervention in treatment and control schools will include: social problem solving, teacher-reports of behavior, student self-reports of anger expression and control, peer social preference and behavioral ratings, discipline referral data, and direct observations of classroom climate (post intervention only). Social validity of the intervention will be determined using post-treatment survey and interview data.

Products: The expected outcomes from this study include:

  1. Published reports on the results of the efficacy of TFGA in improving student behavioral outcomes related to positive social adjustment and school success,
  2. A cost analysis of this intervention, and
  3. Presentations on the results of the social validity assessment.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The participating schools will be recruited from two school districts in North Central Florida. The majority of the elementary schools in the targeted districts are designated as Title 1 (i.e. "high risk") schools. Each district has a large percentage of minority students and a high proportion of students who receive free or reduced-price lunch.

Population: This study will take place in all 4th and 5th grade classrooms in selected schools. Students in these grades are targeted because they are cognitively ready to accommodate the curricular content and they are approaching a developmental transition (i.e., to middle school) that will require more independence and resistance to negative peer influence. Approximately 5 schools per condition (5 treatment and 5 control) per year for 3 years with approximately 4 classrooms per school will be recruited. To ensure a high level of interest and commitment at the school level, only schools in which approximately 75% or more of the 4th and 5th grade teachers agree to participate will be used in the study.

Intervention: The intervention used in this study is a classroom-based universal program entitled Tools for Getting Along (TFGA): Teaching Students to Problem Solve, which is based on Dodge's (1980) social information processing model. TFGA is comprised of 26 lessons designed to teach 4th and 5th grade students to replace disruptive/aggressive behaviors with more socially constructive choices through use of problem solving.

Research Design and Methods: A randomized control trial design is used with schools as the unit of randomization. Schools matched on SES (percentage of students on eligible for free or reduced-price lunch) and school size are randomly assigned to treatment or control groups. Although the intervention occurs within classrooms, random assignment is at the school level to avoid possible treatment contamination across classrooms. Also, other school personnel besides teachers (e.g., school counselors) are involved with implementation and will be encouraged to reinforce the cognitive-behavioral framework in various school settings across the school day.

Control Condition: The control group schools receive "business as usual." To encourage participation from schools prior to assignment to condition, researchers will offer the curriculum and appropriate training in the year following participation in the research (years 1-3) to schools assigned to the control condition.

Key Measures: Researchers assess a variety of outcomes, including students' TFGA curricular knowledge, problem solving orientation and skills, and expression of anger. Teachers will rate students' reactive and proactive aggression and impulsivity. Peer ratings/nominations will be used to collect peer reports of behavior and social status. Observers blind to the experimental condition will rate classroom atmosphere (e.g., level of disruption during academic tasks, responsiveness to individual students' needs and feelings). Teachers and guidance personnel will also rate the social validity of the TFGA curriculum.

Data Analytic Strategy: In this study, students are nested within classrooms and classrooms are nested within schools; therefore, hierarchical linear modeling will be used to obtain a more accurate estimate of standard error and treatment effects. To address student level outcomes due to treatment, researchers will test whether there is significant variance in student outcomes among classrooms within schools as well as whether there is significant variance across schools. Possible explanatory variables included in the models will be treatment condition, school, classroom and classroom-related covariates such as teacher experience, and individual covariates such as gender. To test for classroom-level outcomes due to treatment, researchers will examine classroom climate ratings while exploring related covariates. They will also use statistical analyses of interaction effects to determine teacher and student-level variables that moderate treatment outcomes.

Products and Publications

Book chapter

Smith, S.W., Graber, J., and Daunic, A.P. (2009). Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions for Anger/Aggression: Review of Research and Research-to-Practice Issues. In M. Mayer, R. Van Acker, J. Lochman, and F. Gresham (Eds.), Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions for Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: School-Based Practice (pp. 111–142). New York: Guilford.

Smith, S.W., Taylor, G.G., Barnes, T., and Daunic, A.P. (2012). Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions to Prevent Aggression of Students With Emotional or Behavioral Disorders. In B.G. Cook, M. Tankersley, and T.J. Landrum (Eds.), Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities (pp. 47–70). Bingley, England: Emerald.

Book chapter, edition specified

Algozzine, B., Daunic, A.P., and Smith, S.W. (2010). Prevention Science and Practice. In B. Algozzine, A.P. Daunic, and S.W. Smith (Eds.), Preventing Problem Behaviors A Handbook of Successful Prevention Strategies (2nd ed., pp. 3–12). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Daunic, A.P., Smith, S.W., and Algozzine, B. (2010). Building and Sustaining Effective Prevention Practices. In B. Algozzine, A.P. Daunic, and S.W. Smith (Eds.), Preventing Problem Behaviors (2nd ed., pp. 3–12). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Smith, S.W., and Daunic, A.P. (2010). Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions in School Settings. In B. Algozzine, A.P. Daunic, and S.W. Smith (Eds.), Preventing Problem Behaviors (2nd ed., pp. 3–12). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Daunic, A.P., Smith, S.W., Garvan, C.W., Barber, B.R., Becker, M.K., Peters, C.D., Taylor, G.G., Van Loan, C.L., Li, W., and Naranjo, A.H. (2012). Reducing Developmental Risk for Emotional/Behavioral Problems: A Randomized Controlled Trial Examining the Tools for Getting Along Curriculum. Journal of School Psychology, 50(2): 149–166. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2011.09.003

Peters, C.D., Kranzler, J.H., Algina, J., Smith, S.W., and Daunic, A.P. (2014). Understanding Disproportionate Representation in Special Education by Examining Group Differences in Behavior Ratings. Psychology in the Schools, 51(5): 452–465. doi:10.1002/pits.21761

Peters, C.D., Smith, S.W., Algina, J., and Daunic, A.P. (2012). Factorial Validity of the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) Teacher Form. Child Neuropsychology, 18(2): 168–181. doi:10.1080/09297049.2011.594427

Smith, S.W., Daunic, A.P., Barber, B.R., Aydin, B., Van Loan, C.L., and Taylor, G.G. (2016). Effect of Tools for Getting Along on Student Risk for Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Upper Elementary Classrooms: A Replication Study. School Psychology Review, 45(1): 73–92. doi:10.17105/SPR45–1.73–92

Smith, S.W., Daunic, A.P., Garvan, C.W., Barber, B.R., Becker, M.K., and Van Loan, C.L. (2014). Preventing Risk for Significant Behavior Problems Through a Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention: Effects of the Tools for Getting Along Curriculum at One-Year Follow-Up. Journal of Primary Prevention, 35(5): 371–387. doi:10.1007/s10935–014–0357–0.


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