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IES Grant

Title: Promoting Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence in Adolescents with Disabilities: A School-wide Inclusive Violence Prevention Model
Center: NCSER Year: 2010
Principal Investigator: Sullivan, Terri Awardee: Virginia Commonwealth University
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3/1/2010-2/28/2013 Award Amount: $1,500,000
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A100160

Purpose: Although many schools in the United States implement violence prevention programs, the vast majority of these interventions were developed with typically developing youth in mind. Generally, programs are either assumed to generalize to youth with disabilities or they exclude these youth because programs were not designed to meet their needs. Unfortunately, prior research indicates that youth with disabilities are at higher risk than their typically developing peers for experiencing victimization and/or engaging in aggressive behavior. Peer victimization and aggressive behavior are associated with a host of negative consequences that impact not only behavioral adjustment but also academic outcomes.

The aim of this research is to develop a comprehensive school-based violence prevention program that combines individual-level skill-building curricula with school-level components to promote social, emotional, and behavioral competence in adolescents with disabilities. The research team will modify existing evidence-based individual and school-level violence prevention programs to meet the needs of adolescents with disabilities, and help bridge the gap between prevention and special education research by incorporating components of effective instructional practices for youth with disabilities into the development of this intervention.

Project Activities: Across the 3 years of the project, approximately 65 teachers and school staff and 315 middle school (6th, 7th, and 8th grade) students with disabilities will participate. Data from focus group participants (including teachers, school personnel, and parents), student interviews, and surveys including student- and teacher-reports will be conducted prior to and after intervention implementation to continually review, critique, and revise the intervention model. The research team will also track students' development of skills related to social, emotional, and behavioral competence with a curriculum-based measure, using it to make modifications to the curricula and delivery model as needed. The research team will also collect data to track intervention fidelity including dosage and adherence.

Products: The products of this project include a fully developed school-based violence prevention program including individual and school-level components, published reports, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Public middle schools in southern Virginia

Population: Across the 3 years of the project, the target population will be 65 teachers and school staff and 315 middle school (6th, 7th, and 8th grade) students with disabilities.

Intervention: The student curricula will address three broad skill areas including (a) emotion management, (b) communication, and (c) problem-solving. The three components are the same for each grade but the context for their application will be modified to address developmentally relevant issues as students mature. The student curricula will be implemented by health and physical education teachers in conjunction with research staff members (violence prevention specialist assigned to each school). Instructional strategies will also be incorporated into the curriculum, including for example instructional strategies on praise, error correction. The student curricula will be integrated with school level components, including teacher training on bullying prevention.

Research Design and Methods: During the first two years of the study, the individual and school-level components of the intervention will be developed, revised and implemented through interviews and focus groups with school staff and students, and quantitative data which will provide preliminary data on the relationship between the intervention and student outcomes. For the pilot study, the revised curriculum will be implemented at two middle schools; 4 classrooms within each grade at each school (total of 24 classrooms) will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (a) the revised student curriculum with the standard delivery model, (b) the revised student curriculum with the enhanced delivery model (i.e., including enhanced instructional strategies), and (c) comparison condition.

Control Condition: The control classrooms will receive the school-level intervention, but students will have access only to typical school services.

Key Measures: To answer research questions regarding the development, feasibility, sustainability, and utility of the school-based intervention model, the research team will collect and analyze (a) qualitative data from student interviews and focus groups to review and revise program content, assess barriers and supports to implementation and the perceived usefulness and helpfulness of intervention components, (b) quantitative data to provide preliminary data on links between intervention participation and anticipated outcomes that will be used to guide further program revisions, and (c) process data to track intervention fidelity including dosage and adherence. Key constructs measured include problem and prosocial behavior, academic achievement and academic competence, and potential mediating variables such as student communication skills, emotion regulation, and problem solving skills.

Data Analytic Strategy: Qualitative data from focus groups will be coded into themes by type of intervention component. Growth curve analyses will be used determine patterns of change in student outcomes. During the pilot year, pre-post comparisons will also be analyzed to compare changes in the two intervention conditions to the control condition, and the two intervention conditions to each other. A feasibility study will be conducted in the final phase of the project to assess the final iterations of the fully developed intervention.