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icon of glasses and a book Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning


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FY Awards

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Using an Empirically-supported Teacher Consultation Model to Facilitate the Implementation of an Integrated Social-emotional Learning and Literacy Curriculum in Urban Elementary Schools

Year: 2010
Name of Institution:
University of Virginia
Goal: Development and Innovation
Principal Investigator:
Downer, Jason
Award Amount: $1,469,979
Award Period: 3 years
Award Number: R305A100590


Purpose: Social-emotional skills and academic achievement are intertwined, with research showing that poor academic achievement is both predicted by aggressive, disruptive behavior and a predictor of maladaptive behavior. Learning in a school context involves social and interactive processes among teachers, students, and their peers. Students' social-emotional competencies and self-regulation skills serve as important mechanisms for obtaining information and benefiting from instruction and learning activities. In this project, the research team will develop enhanced implementation supports using the My Teaching Partner (MTP ) program for teachers' effective delivery of an integrated social-emotional learning (SEL) and literacy curriculum (4Rs—Reading, Writing, Respect, and Resolution) in third, fourth and fifth grade classrooms.

Project Activities: The developers of 4Rs will partner with the developers of My Teaching Partner to develop and test a package of teacher-focused supports to enhance implementation of the 4Rs curriculum and improve its impact on students' social and academic competencies. Working with teachers in the first two years of the project, the research team will engage in a process of iterative design to determine whether or not the implementation support package is working as intended, is engaging to participants, and is improving 4Rs implementation quality. A pilot study in the final year will be used to examine potential effects on implementation fidelity and teacher and student outcomes. Results for these pilot teachers and students will be compared to a matched comparison group of teachers who participated in prior experimental evaluations of 4Rs without MTP supports.

Products: Products of this project include a package of teacher-focused supports based on the My Teaching Partner program to enhance implementation of the 4Rs curriculum and improve its impact on students' social and academic competencies. Peer reviewed publications will also be produced.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study takes place in elementary schools located in New York City.

Population: The sample includes third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers (approximately 85), their students (approximately 600), and 8 staff developers.

Intervention: The intervention being developed is an integration of the 4Rs program with a model for providing implementation support, My Teaching Partner (MTP ). The 4Rs program consists of a 7-unit, 21-lesson literacy-based curriculum in conflict resolution and social-emotional learning. MTP provides two resources to support 4Rs implementation: (1) continuous, on-demand access to a dynamic, interactive website and (2) one-on-one, web-mediated MTP consultation. The final product, a new version of 4Rs called 4Rs+MTP, is expected to improve implementation fidelity of the 4Rs curriculum, enhance program effects on student social-emotional and academic outcomes, and provide a set of efficient, sustainable, and web-based resources to support future scaled-up, effective implementation of 4Rs.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will use a formal instructional design process to develop 4Rs+MTP. Teachers participating in the first two years of the project will be in schools that are already implementing 4Rs and are willing to help develop and participate in the integration of the new MTP supports. In the first year the team will develop prototypes of the integrated program and gather ongoing feedback from a small group of users on protocols, materials, and online resources. In the second year, a revised version of the full 4Rs+MTP program will be field tested. Across the first two years the team will develop and revise fidelity of implementation measures on an ongoing basis. In the final project year, schools will be invited to participate in a pilot test of the 4Rs+MTP program if they have expressed an interest in implementing 4Rs but have not yet implemented it. The pilot study teachers will be matched with teachers who implemented 4Rs without MTP supports within a prior study that used similar measures.

Control Condition: Teachers who implemented 4Rs without MTP supports within a prior study that used similar measures will be matched to pilot study teachers using propensity score matching to provide a comparison of 4Rs+MTP to 4Rs implemented "as usual." Matched controls will be identified based on propensity scores derived from a combination of teacher and classroom variables (e.g., teacher education, classroom characteristics, and school characteristics).

Key Measures: Key measures include interviews, focus groups, observational measures (the Classroom Assessment Scoring System—CLASS), teacher surveys of knowledge and beliefs (e.g., Perceived Emotional Intelligence Scale), and teacher reports on students (e.g., Behavioral Assessment System for Children; items adapted from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort—ECLS-K 3rd grade assessment). Also included will be student surveys (e.g., Dodge's Home Interview), school records (e.g., New York State standardized assessments of math and reading achievement), staff developer surveys, and website logs.

Data Analytic Strategy: Multivariate analysis of variance will be used to look at changes over time (fall to spring) in teacher and student outcomes for the pilot group, interactions of time and group (4Rs+MTP vs. 4Rs only), time and grade (3rd, 4th, 5th), and the three way interaction of time, group and grade.