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IES Grant

Title: Development of an Innovative Digital Intervention to Enhance the Social-Emotional Skills and School-Based Adjustment of Early Elementary Students
Center: NCER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: DeRosier, Melissa Awardee: 3-C Institute for Social Development
Program: Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2020 - 06/30/2024) Award Amount: $1,399,963
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A200239

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop and test Emotion Explorer, adigital social emotional learning (SEL) intervention for kindergarten through second grade (K–2). Emotion Explorer will include digital, self-paced, and personalized student components (e.g., interactive e-books) blended with teacher-led discussions. Educators are increasingly aware that later academic success stems from a strong foundation of SEL skills in the early grades. Targeting SEL efforts at K–2 grades can be particularly useful for solidifying a strong foundation of social, emotional, and behavioral health that fosters future school-based success.

Project Activities: Researchers will use a systematic iterative user-centered development process to create Emotion Explorer. As part of the development process, they will examine the intervention's usability, pedagogical appropriateness, and demographic equivalency. They will complete both field and pilot tests in order to examine feasibility and cost efficiencies for use in K–2 classrooms as well as test the promise of this new SEL intervention for impacting student social emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes and teacher SEL self-efficacy.

Products: The project team will create the Emotion Explorer intervention, pilot test it for evidence of promise, and provide information about the cost effectiveness of the intervention. The team will share findings from their research through conference presentations and peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The project will take place in 39 elementary school classrooms in western North Carolina.

Sample: Researchers will carry out iterative development with 60 K–2 students. Participants in the field and pilot tests will be approximately 700 K–2 students and 39 K–2 teachers.

Intervention: Emotion Explorer (EE) will be an SEL program designed for universal delivery in K–2 classrooms. EE includes digital, self-paced, and personalized student components (e.g., interactive e-books) blended with teacher-led discussions. The total time to participate in the full intervention will be approximately 40 minutes per week for 6 weeks. Teachers will have access to online training modules, administration tools, Home Connection materials, and progress monitoring tools.

Research Design and Methods: Researchers will create the full set of student and teacher intervention materials during the project's first 2 years following a systematic iterative development process. When the intervention is fully developed, researchers will conduct a small field test of EE using parallel research and implementation methods as those planned for the pilot test to ensure their methods are feasible and achievable in K–2 classrooms prior to pilot testing. Once feasibility is established, researchers will complete a cluster randomized pilot test of the promise of this new SEL intervention for generating beneficial student outcomes when compared to traditional SEL instruction. The researchers will also assess whether the intervention enhances teacher SEL self-efficacy. They will also assess increases program feasibility and cost-benefits via EE's SEL delivery in regular education K–2 classrooms.

Control Condition: Classrooms randomized to the control condition will implement the traditional teacher-led, paper-and-pencil SEL intervention Adventures in Emotional Literacy (AEL) for an equivalent amount of time. All teacher materials will be printed.

Key Measures: Researchers will measure (a) students' social emotional competence, classroom behaviors, academic engagement, and achievement; (b) teacher SEL self-efficacy; (c) software and intervention usability; (d) implementation fidelity; (e) implementation costs; and (f) intervention feasibility.

Data Analytic Strategy: Descriptive statistics for end user ratings and software derived indices will be examined during iterative development. Researchers will test the impact of EE for student outcomes using a three-level hierarchical linear model (HLM), overall and separately by grade, gender, and racial/ethnic sub-groups. A structural equation modeling (SEM) approach will be used to understand how student outcomes may be moderated by variation in implementation fidelity. General linear models (GLM) will be used to test changes in teacher SEL self-efficacy (repeated measures) and differences in intervention usability and feasibility by condition at post-test.

Cost Analysis: Costs will be gathered using the “ingredients method”, including expenditures for personnel, facilities, equipment, materials, and training. Upon completion of the cost analysis, the research team will compute the cost-effectiveness ratios for each student outcome.

Related Project: Emotion Explorer: An Integrated Online and Mobile Emotion Literacy Program for Early Elementary School Students and Educators (EDIES15C0013)