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IES Grant

Title: Social Tele-Coaching in Classroom Settings
Center: NCSER Year: 2009
Principal Investigator: Knowlton, Earle Awardee: University of Kansas
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 6/1/2009 through 9/30/2012 Award Amount: $1,078,881
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A090322

Purpose: Social skills are important to students' school success, but a considerable number of children and adolescents with disabilities continue to face significant difficulty engaging socially with peers and adults at school in classrooms, in lunchrooms, and on playgrounds. There are existing social skills programs that have been widely implemented, but research has suggested that although students acquire social skills knowledge and can use those skills in the intervention setting (e.g., small group), their skills fail to transfer or generalize to other environments (e.g., lunchroom). Some programs have used social skills "coaches" in school settings to directly assist students with using the social skills they have learned, but this tends to be obtrusive and disruptive. However, wireless audio technology (e.g., bug in the ear) and interactive video technology has the potential to enable coaches to provide these supports unobtrusively from remote sites. These types of programs have been used with parent training, where a social skills trainer communicates directly to the parent behind a one-way mirror while the parent interacts with his or her child. This technology has potential for allowing students with disabilities to receive the services of a social skills coach while interacting with students and adults in naturalistic settings. The purpose of this study is to develop a remote-delivery, social skills coaching intervention, Social Tele-Coaching (SOTELCO), and to assess its feasibility in schools for students with disabilities.

Project Activities: In the first phase of this study, the research team will refine the technology components, which include wireless transmission and reception of audio through cellular phone technology and a Bluetooth/earpiece system. The intervention will be developed and pilot tested with students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) that contain social/behavioral goals. Graduate research assistants will serve as behavioral coaches. Data collected during this project will be used to inform the development process, to evaluate feasibility and usability of the intervention in schools, and to determine whether the intervention shows promise for improving the social skills of students with behavior problems.

Products: The products of this project include a fully developed remote-delivery, social skills coaching intervention, published reports, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Rural public elementary, middle, and high schools in Nebraska.

Population: During each of the three project years, approximately 15 elementary and secondary students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) that contain social/behavioral skills in at least one target goal will participate.

Intervention: The intervention consists of direct, daily behavioral coaching as a complementary component of an already existing intensive, individualized social skills training program. For this study, the researchers will augment the Skillstreaming social skills program, but the intervention will be developed with the intention of being able to augment any social skills training curriculum. The intervention is deliverable via wireless and video conferencing technologies (e.g., bug in the ear) from remote observation sites to the student participant in general education classroom settings and in common-access settings such as the cafeteria, library, or playground. Coaching components include: (a) verbal modeling of target interpersonal behaviors, prompting of these behaviors, and specific corrective and/or reinforcing feedback to the student participant regarding the behavior(s); (b) thinning (i.e. gradual reductions in the amount and magnitude of models and prompts), and (c) fading (i.e. the reduction in the number and duration of coaching sessions per week).

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use multiple baseline single case research methods to develop and refine the intervention. The researchers will also develop and administer brief tri-monthly surveys with participants and stakeholders (e.g., school personnel, parents) to examine the intervention's feasibility and acceptability. Based on these results, the research team may also conduct individual or focus group interviews as necessary and appropriate.

Control Condition: In single case design, each participant serves as his or her own control. Target social behaviors are observed and compared under baseline and intervention (coaching, thinning, and fading) conditions.

Key Measures: Student outcome measures include measures built into the Skillstreaming training package (e.g., social skills knowledge), direct daily measurement of target social skill behaviors per participant and per setting, and measures of academic achievement. Feasibility surveys will be developed and administered four times per year to students, teachers, administrators, and parents.

Data Analytic Strategy: Nonparametric statistical analyses of feasibility and user-perception data will be conducted at the end of each project year. Results of the single case designs will be examined with visual analysis of level and trend. Researchers will apply the Percentage of All Non-Overlapping Data (PAND), an index that quantifies phase differences in terms of the proportion of data points that do not overlap when compared between phases (Parker, Hagan-Burke, & Vannest, 2007).