The study was conducted in a single urban, public elementary school located in the Southeast. The school is an alternative school serving students who are behind grade level by at least 2 years and have significant disciplinary problems. The intervention was conducted during social studies lessons.
A total of 64 students in grade 5 were included in the study. The 64 students were taught by one teacher in six classrooms. All students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Approximately 47% were male, 98% were Black, and 2% were White. No students were English language learners. The researchers randomly assigned two classrooms to each of three conditions. Due to student nonresponse, one study condition involving two classrooms did not have any findings which met standards. Thus, for the findings which met standards, there were 43 students in the study.
The Good Behavior Game (GBG) is a classwide management intervention. GBG promotes positive classroom behavior by providing reinforcers to students if their behavior, along with the behavior of the rest of the class, met a preset standard. The GBG intervention was implemented twice weekly during students’ regularly scheduled, 90-minute social studies classes, over a 4-week period. Each class was divided into two teams, and during classes, when a student violated classroom rules, it was recorded on a publicly available scorecard as a strike against their team. The teacher also engaged in positive reinforcement for good behavior and redirection when students misbehaved. At the end of each session both teams received feedback and a shared reward if they met their classroom goals.
The Mindfulness Skills Training (MST) condition taught students to regulate their behavioral-emotional responses. Specifically, students were taught to use the mindful STOP procedure when engaging in inappropriate behavior: Stop, Take three deep breaths, Observe self and others, and Proceed positively. This process was intended to help students disrupt their pattern of reactive responding by first getting them to focus their attention, and then pause to identify what thoughts and feelings might prevent them from proceeding appropriately. The MST intervention was implemented twice weekly during students’ regularly scheduled, 90-minute social studies classes, over a 4-week period.
Support for implementation
Prior to the beginning of implementation, the teacher in the study received a 60-minute training on how to implement both intervention conditions (GBG and MST). The session provided the opportunity to practice both conditions. The teacher also filled out fidelity checks after each session to enable both her and the study team to assess fidelity to each condition. Finally, the study team checked in with the teacher weekly via telephone to assess and strengthen implementation.