Improving Classroom Learning Environments by Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE): A Cluster Randomized Controlled Efficacy Trial
Previous Grant Number: R305A120180
Previous University Affiliation: Pennsylvania State University
Co-Principal Investigator: Mark Greenberg
Purpose: The proposed study is a test of a professional development program designed to improve teachers' well-being and their social-emotional competence. Improvements in these areas are intended to then improve the quality of the classroom and in turn improve student behavior and academic achievement. The researchers propose a multi-site cluster randomized controlled trial to determine the efficacy of the Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE) professional development program. CARE was developed with funding from a previous IES Development award to enhance teachers' capacity to provide a supportive and engaging context for social-emotional and academic learning. CARE provides emotion skills instruction, mindfulness/stress reduction practices, and caring and listening practices through group sessions and distance coaching. The purpose of this instruction is to enhance teachers' social and emotional competence, teaching efficacy, and mindfulness, resulting in better organized classrooms that provide both instructional and emotional support to students.
Project Activities: The project will carry out a multi-site randomized trial intended to test the direct effects of the CARE program on teachers and classrooms as well as on students' behavior and academic achievement. This study will explore whether the intervention is especially effective for teachers, classrooms and students at highest risk. The researchers will also seek to determine whether CARE's hypothesized proximal effects on teachers and classrooms account for CARE's hypothesized distal effects on student outcomes.
Products: Products of this project will include evidence of the efficacy of the CARE professional development program for teachers and their students. Peer reviewed publications will also be produced.
Setting: This study will take place in 32 New York public elementary schools (kindergarten through fifth grade).
Sample: Study participants include approximately 256 teachers and approximately 20 participating students per teacher/classroom.
Intervention: The CARE program model is designed to promote and support teachers' social and emotional competencies and well-being. Following best practices in adult learning, CARE introduces material sequentially, utilizing a blend of didactic, experiential and interactive learning processes. Over the school year, CARE involves 30 contact hours in a group setting presented as a series of five 6-hour sessions. Between sessions, teachers receive individualized phone coaching through two 30-minute calls over two weeks. In this efficacy study, the program will be delivered by CARE co-developers or facilitators trained, supervised, and certified by the developers. Program content consists of (1) emotion skills instruction; (2) mindfulness/stress reduction practices to promote self-regulation of attention and non-judgmental awareness; and (3) caring and listening practices to promote empathy and compassion. Program materials include a CARE Facilitator's Manual, a Participant Workbook (including presented information, exercises, and homework activities), a Participant CD containing guided mindfulness and caring activities for home practice, and a series of Power Point slides that support the didactic portions of the program.
Research Design and Methods: The proposed research will utilize a 3-level (students, teachers, schools) multi-site cluster randomized design with treatment at level 2 (teachers) and schools as naturally occurring blocks. Teachers will be randomized to CARE or a wait list control group (professional development as usual) within schools and by grade for two cohorts of schools (16 schools per cohort). Teachers and classrooms in each cohort of schools will be assessed three times: twice in one school year (pre-intervention baseline in fall and post-intervention in spring) and once in the following year (a follow-up in fall). Direct assessment of students and the collection of school data (grades, test scores, disciplinary actions, absenteeism and tardiness) will occur twice in the first year (pre-intervention baseline in fall and post-intervention in spring). At the fall follow-up assessment, only student school data will be collected.
Control Condition: Teachers in the control group will receive the professional development that is typically offered in the participating New York public elementary schools. These teachers will be offered the CARE professional development program following the completion of the third data collection (i.e., the fall follow-up assessment).
Key Measures: Assessment will involve teacher self-report questionnaires (e.g., the Teachers' Sense of Efficacy Scale, the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, the Maslach Burnout Inventory), observational ratings of teachers and classrooms (e.g., the Classroom Assessment Scoring System), teacher reports on students (e.g., the Behavior Assessment System for Children), and student school records (e.g., test scores, disciplinary actions).
Data Analytic Strategy: Data from the two cohorts will be combined and analyzed using hierarchical linear modeling techniques to estimate the impact of treatment condition (CARE versus professional development as usual) on teacher and classroom proximal outcomes, hypothesized mediators, and on distal student level outcomes. The researchers will also explore whether implementation fidelity (using propensity score analyses) and baseline risk (using an interaction term between the baseline covariate for each outcome and intervention status) moderate the impact of CARE. Finally, the researchers will explore potential mediating effects of the intervention to determine whether CARE's proximal effects on teachers and classrooms account for CARE's distal effects on student outcomes using the most current multilevel mediation modeling techniques.
Related IES Projects: Improving Classroom Learning Environments by Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE) (R305A090179)