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IES Grant

Title: Development of Universal, Selected, and Intensive Social Skills Intervention Programs
Center: NCSER Year: 2008
Principal Investigator: Gresham, Frank Awardee: Louisiana State University
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 6/1/2008 to 5/31/2011 Award Amount: $894,418
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A080113

Purpose: Although approximately 20 percent of school-age children qualify for a psychiatric diagnosis of a serious behavior disorder or emotional disturbance, only about 1 percent of those children receive services in schools that address their psychosocial adjustment issues. These children present significant challenges for schools to meet their instructional and disciplinary needs. The purpose of this project is to develop and conduct an initial evaluation of social skills screening and instructional materials that will prevent or ameliorate behavior disorders in children and youth in preschool through 6th grade. Specifically, this proposal will develop and conduct an initial evaluation of school-based social skills instructional materials to be implemented across multiple tiers of intervention intensity (universal, selected, and intensive) for school-age children with or at risk for serious behavior disorders. The interventionís feasibility and usability in elementary school settings at varying levels of intervention will be evaluated.

Project Activities: In this project, a social skills intervention at multiple tiers of intensity, including screening materials and social skills curricula, will be developed and modified with field-testing in elementary schools. During each year of the study, the research team will focus on the development and refinement of one of the intervention programs, universal, selected, and intensive.

Products: The products of this project include a fully developed social skills intervention with screening and instructional materials for use in elementary schools, published reports, and presentations.

Setting: Elementary school classrooms that represent three developmental levels—preschool/kindergarten, first to third grade, and fourth to sixth grade in Louisiana.

Population: Teachers and students in preschool through sixth grade approximately 18 classrooms in two public school parishes.

Intervention: Working from a risk and resilience model, the intervention addresses both (a) the social competence deficits, or risk factors, exhibited by children with serious behavior disorders and emotional disturbance and (b) a variety of protective factors within the realm of social competence, including social-cognitive skills, prosocial behaviors, and peer acceptance, that may serve to help these children better succeed in school. Theoretically, the intervention conceptualizes social skills as a behavioral response class, meaning that a range of specific behaviors that are functionally equivalent can accomplish any given social task. The theoretical model also incorporates basic behavioral learning principles (e.g., rates of reinforcement) to address why some behaviors may compete with, or block, social skills competencies. In addition, an important theoretical distinction is made between acquisition deficits and performance deficits in the development of the specific components of the intervention at different tiers of intervention intensity. The universal program, Classwide Intervention Program, targets all students in the classroom and teaches the 10 most important social skills (identified through teacher surveys) related to communication, cooperation, assertion, empathy, responsibility, and self-control over a 10-week instructional period. The selected program, Intervention Guide, targets students who did not respond adequately to the universal intervention, and directly teaches a total of 19 social skills taught over a 15-week instructional period. The intensive program, Functional Behavioral Assessment/Replacement Behavior Training, targets students whose social skills continue to need to be developed, despite participating in the universal or selected intervention. This program is based on the assumption that the previous program taught students the necessary social skills, but now students need to be taught how to perform the skills they learned. This program is highly individualized and it is estimated that students will be exposed to 15 hours of functional assessment and intervention activities.

Research Designs and Methods: The content of the intervention at each level of intervention intensity will be developed, field tested and evaluated for feasibility and fidelity of implementation in elementary schools (preschool to 6th grade).

Key Measures: Treatment integrity and social validity will be assessed using direct observation, rating scales, checklists, and audiotapes of intervention sessions. Student social and behavioral changes will be monitored with daily behavior reports and direct observation.

Data Analytic Strategy: The tiered interventions and materials will be field tested to determine their feasibility, usability, and social validity. Revisions to the interventions will be based on reported fidelity, usability, satisfaction, and impact on students' behavior.

Control Condition: Due to the nature of the research, there is no control condition.

Products and Publications

Book chapter

Gresham, F.M. (in press). Measuring and Analyzing Treatment Integrity in Research. In T. Kratochwill and L. Sanetti (Eds.), Treatment Integrity: Conceptual, Methodological, and Applied Considerations for Practitioners. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Gresham, F.M., Robichaux, N., York, H., and O'Leary, K. (2012). Issues Related to Identifying and Implementing Evidence-Based Social Skills Interventions for Students With High-Incidence Disabilities. In B.G. Cook, M. Tankersley, and T.J. Landrum (Eds.), Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities, Vol 25 (pp. 23–45). Cambridge, MA: Emerald Group Publishing Limited. doi:10.1108/S0735–004X(2012)0000025005

Book chapter, edition specified

Gresham, F.M. (2014). Quantitative Research Methods and Designs in Consultation. In W. Erchul, and S. Sheridan (Eds.), Handbook of Research in School Consultation (2nd ed., pp. 79–102). New York: Routledge.

Walker, H.M., and Gresham, F.M. (2012). The School-Related Behavior Disorders Field: A Source of Innovation and Best Practices for School Personnel Who Serve Students With Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. In W. Reynolds, and G. Miller (Eds.), Handbook of Psychology, Vol 7, Educational Psychology (2nd ed., pp. 411–440). New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Gresham, F.M. (2011). Social Behavioral Assessment and Intervention: Observations and Impressions. School Psychology Review, 40(2): 275–283.

Gresham, F.M., and Reschly, D.J. (2011). Standard of Practice and Flynn Effect Testimony in Death Penalty Cases. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 49(3): 131–140. doi:10.1352/1934–9556–49.3.131

Gresham, F.M., Fisher, A.J., Hunter, K., and Corwin, E. (2013). Screening, Assessment, Treatment, and Outcome Evaluation of Behavioral Difficulties in an RTI Model. Exceptionality?, 21(1): 19–33. doi:10.1080/09362835.2013.750115

Vance, M.J., Gresham, F.M., and Dart, E.H. (2012). Relative Effectiveness of DRO and Self-Monitoring in a General Education Classroom. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 28(1): 89–109. doi:10.1080/15377903.2012.643758