WWC review of this study

Effects of an elementary school program to enhance prosocial behavior on children's cognitive-social problem-solving skills and strategies.

Battistich, V., Solomon, D., Watson, M., Solomon, J., & Schaps, E. (1989). Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 10 (2), 147–169.

  • Randomized controlled trial
     examining 
    350
     Students
    , grades
    K-4
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations

Reviewed: April 2007

Academic achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Holistic measure of reading comprehension

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. Unknown

Posttest

Grade 6;
236 students

51.43

48.02

Yes

 
 
13
More Outcomes

California Achievement Test (CAT)

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. Unknown

Posttest

Grade 4;
339 students

712.16

712.36

No

--
Behavior outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Spontaneous prosocial behavior

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grades K–4;
350 students

53.36

45.85

Yes

 
 
27
More Outcomes

Supportive, friendly, and helpful behavior

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grades K–4;
350 students

52.35

47.11

Yes

 
 
20

Negative behavior

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grades K–4;
350 students

51.33

48.36

Yes

 
 
11

Harmoniousness

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grades K–4;
350 students

50.43

49.47

No

--

Social competence

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grade 4;
295 students

1.66

1.62

No

--
Knowledge, attitudes, and values outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Democratic values

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grade 4;
294 students

3.31

3.12

Yes

 
 
18
More Outcomes

Conflict resolution interview

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grades K, 2, and 4: Cohort 1;
133 students

1.36

1.16

Yes

 
 
17

Sense of community

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grade 4;
294 students

1.54

1.53

Yes

 
 
15

Social problem solving interview

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grades 1 and 3: Cohort 1;
191 students

2.58

2.44

No

 
 
11

Concern for equality

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grade 4: Cohort 1;
294 students

3.19

2.92

No

--

Perceptual benevolence

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grade 3: Cohort 1;
256 students

1.79

1.75

No

--

Conflict resolution interview

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Kindergarten: Cohort 2;
318 students

1.24

1.08

No

--

Social understanding

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grade 4: Cohort 1;
317 students

2.99

2.93

No

--

Social problem solving interview

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grade 1: Cohort 2;
295 students

2.21

2.11

No

--

Empathy

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grade 4: Cohort 1;
256 students

1.69

1.67

No

--

Motive to help others learn

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grade 4: Cohort 1;
294 students

2.62

2.64

No

--

Concern for others

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grade 4: Cohort 1;
294 students

2.01

2.06

No

--

Total self-esteem

Caring School Community (CSC) vs. unknown

Posttest

Grade 4: Cohort 1;
294 students

2.35

2.4

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


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    California

Setting

The study took place in six elementary schools located in a middle- to upper middle-class suburban community in northern California.

Study sample

The study included two cohorts of elementary school students from six elementary schools. Each cohort began with the project in kindergarten. The first cohort started kindergarten in 1982–83 and the second in 1985–86. The first cohort included 13 kindergarten classrooms that were followed through the elementary school years;2 the second cohort included 14 classrooms that were followed through the first grade. There were about 350 students a year in the first cohort (divided evenly between the intervention and comparison groups). Of those 350 students, about 165 students remained with the cohort all five years.

Intervention Group

The intervention schools implemented the Child Development Project (CDP) program. (For details about the connection between the CDP and the CSC, see the CSC intervention report).3 Students in the intervention group received the CDP program every year starting in kindergarten. Class meetings in the intervention condition included activities designed to promote core values. In the classroom, students learned group interaction skills and relevant values and worked in small groups toward mutual academic and nonacademic goals. Teachers identified and discussed exemplary behavior using examples from the classroom, television, literature, and movies. Developmental discipline, a classroom management approach, was applied to teach prosocial norms and values. In addition, children were encouraged to help others by doing classroom chores, tutoring younger students as part of the “buddies” programs, performing charitable community activities, and helping with activities in the school at large. An implementation check done by two independent observers indicated a high level of implementation and significantly different classroom experiences (with respect to classroom activities and teacher behavior) in the intervention classrooms compared with the comparison classrooms.

Comparison Group

The comparison group included three elementary schools in the same school district as the intervention schools and matched with the intervention schools on socioeconomic status and interest in the intervention. Comparison group students did not participate in the Caring School Community program. No information was provided on character education related practices in the comparison schools.

Outcome descriptions

Student outcomes in three domains were examined: behavior; knowledge, attitudes, and values; and academic achievement. Students’ behavior was assessed using direct observations of students’ behavior in the classroom. Students’ knowledge, attitudes, and values were assessed using several self-report questionnaires. Academic achievement was assessed using standardized achievement tests. (See Appendices A2.1–A2.3 for more detailed descriptions of the outcome measures.)

Support for implementation

Teacher training consisted of a one-week summer institute, monthly workshops, frequent meetings with project staff who also observed the classrooms periodically, and supporting curriculum materials.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Battistich, V., Schaps, E., Watson, M., & Solomon, D. (1996). Prevention effects of the Child Development Project: Early findings from an ongoing multi-site demonstration trial. Journal of Adolescent Research, 11(1), 12–35.

  • Solomon, D., Watson, M., Delucchi, K., Schaps, E., & Battistich, V. (1988). Enhancing children's prosocial behavior in the classroom. American Educational Research Journal, 25 (4), 527–554.

  • Solomon, D., Battistich, V., Watson, M., Schaps, E., & Lewis, C. (2000). A six-district study of educational change: Direct and mediated effects of the child development project. Social Psychology of Education, 4 (1), 3–51.

  • Battistich, V. (2003). Effects of a school-based program to enhance prosocial development on children's peer relations and social adjustment. Journal of Research in Character Education, 1(1), 1-16.

  • Lewis, C., Watson, M., & Schaps, E. (2003). Building community in school. In M. J. Elias, H. Arnold, & C. S. Hussey (Eds.), EQ+IQ = Best leadership practices for caring and successful schools (pp. 100–108). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

  • Solomon, D., Watson, M., Battistich, V., Schaps, E., & Delucchi, K. (1996). Creating classrooms that students experience as communities. American Journal of Community Psychology, 24(6), 719-747.

  • Benninga, J. S., Tracz, S. M., Sparks, R. K., Jr., Solomon, D., Battistich, V., Delucchi, K. L., Sandoval, R., & Stanley, B. (1991). Effects of two contrasting school task and incentive structures on children's social development. Elementary School Journal, 92 (2), 149–167.

  • Battistich, V., Schaps, E., & Wilson, N. (2004). Effects of an elementary school intervention on students' connectedness to school and social adjustment during middle school. Journal of Primary Prevention, 24 (3), 243–262.

  • Solomon, D., Battistich, V., Delucchi, K., & Solomon, J. (1989, March). Evaluation of the Child Development Project: Research design, procedures, and findings. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association. San Francisco, CA.

  • Solomon, D., Battistich, V., & Watson, M. (1993, March). A longitudinal investigation of the effects of a school intervention program on children's social development. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development. New Orleans, LA.

  • Schaps, E., Battistich, V., & Solomon, D. (1997). School as a caring community: A key to character education. In A. Molnar (Ed.), The Construction of Children's Character, Part II, 96th Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Battistich, V., Solomon, D., Watson, M., & Schaps, E. (1996, March). Enhancing students' engagement, participation, and democratic values and attitudes. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Ann Arbor, MI.

  • Battistich, V., Solomon, D., & Watson, M. (1998, April). Sense of community as a mediating factor in promoting children's social and ethical development. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. San Diego, CA.

  • Solomon, D., & Battistich, V. (1993, August). Students in caring classroom communities. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

  • Battistich, V., Solomon, D., Kim, D., Watson, M., & Schaps, E. (1995). Schools as communities, poverty levels of student populations, and students' attitudes, motives, and performance: A multilevel analysis. American Education Research Journal, 32 (3), 627–658.

  • Battistich, V., Solomon, D., Watson, M., & Schaps, E. (1997). Caring school communities. Educational Psychologist, 32(3), 137-151.

  • Schaps, E., Solomon, D., & Watson, M. (1986). A program that combines character development and academic achievement. Educational Leadership, 43 (4), 32–35.

  • Schaps, E., Battistich, V., & Solomon, D. (2004). Community in school as key to student growth: Findings from the Child Development Project. In J. E. Zins, R. P. Weissberg, M. C. Wang, & H. J. Walberg (Eds.), Building academic success on social and emotional learning: What does the research say? (pp. 189–205). New York: Teachers College Press.

  • Solomon, D., & Battistich, V. (1996). Teacher beliefs and practices in schools serving communities that differ in socioeconomic level. Journal of Experimental Education, 64 (4), 327–347.

  • Schaps, E. (2003). A drug abuse prevention program follow-up study. Final report. Oakland, CA: Developmental Studies Center.

  • Solomon, D., Watson, M., Battistich, V., Schaps, E., & Delucchi, K. (1992). Creating a caring community: Educational practices that promote children's prosocial development. In F. K. Oser, A. Dick, & J. Patry (Eds.), Effective and responsible teaching: The new synthesis. (pp. 383–396.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • Watson, M., Battistich, V., & Solomon, D. (1997). Enhancing students' social and ethical development in schools: An intervention program and its effects. International Journal of Educational Research, 27 (7), 571–586.

  • Battistich, V. (2001, April). Effects of an elementary school intervention on students' connectedness to school and social adjustment during middle school. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Seattle, WA.

  • Battistich, V., & Hom, A. (1997). The relationship between students' sense of their school community and students' involvement in problem behaviors. American Journal of Public Health, 87, 1997-2001.

  • Lewis, C., Battistich, V., Schaps, E., Solomon, D., & Watson, M. S. (1998, April). School improvement for academic development and resilience: Findings of the Child Development Project. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. San Diego, CA.

  • Schaps, E., & Lewis, C. (1991). Extrinsic rewards are education's past, not its future. Educational Researcher, 48 (7), 81.

  • Solomon, D., Battistich, V., & Hom, A. (1996, April). Teacher beliefs and practices in schools serving communities that differ in socioeconomic level. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. New York.

  • Solomon, D., Watson, M., Schaps, E., Battistich, V., & Solomon, J. (1990). Cooperative learning as part of a comprehensive classroom program designed to promote prosocial development. In S. Sharan (Ed.), Cooperative learning: Theory and research (pp. 231–260). New York: Praeger.

  • Battistich, V., Solomon, D., & Delucchi, K. (1990, August). Effects of a program to enhance prosocial development on adjustment. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. Boston, MA.

 

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