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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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Professional Development to Support New Teachers' Use of Effective Classroom Management Techniques

Year: 2013
Name of Institution:
University of Virginia
Goal: Efficacy and Replication
Principal Investigator:
Tolan, Patrick
Award Amount: $3,499,721
Award Period: 4 years (6/1/13-5/31/17)
Award Number: R305A130107


Purpose: Teacher classroom management plays a critical role in academic success for students. The purpose of this efficacy study is to test whether the combination of two established and efficacious teacher training programs—the Good Behavior Game (GBG) and My Teaching Partner (MTP)—will improve new teachers' classroom management practices, leading to improved behavior, motivation, and academic achievement for their students. Combined, the two teacher training programs address three important elements of classroom management: (1) the quality of student-teacher interactions; (2) classroom organization and rules and norms to promote learning; and (3) a group contingency approach to behavior management that promotes on-task behavior. This study focuses on training new teachers, a group that typically has not received direct training in classroom management, often resulting in frustration and increased likelihood of dropping out of the teaching profession.

Project Activities: Researchers will test the impact of the combined GBG and MTP training on teacher practice and student achievement and behavior with new teachers hired to begin teaching in the upcoming academic school year. These teachers are randomly assigned to treatment (the GBG + MTP training) or a business-as-usual control condition. Impacts are assessed in the training year on teachers' practices, motivation and efficacy and on students' academic achievement, engagement in school, interest in achievement, and disruptive/off task behavior. Assessments of teachers and their new students also occur in the year following the training year. The researchers will also examine whether teacher practices mediate potential effects of the combined training on student achievement and behavior, as well as potential moderators of effects such as training fidelity, teacher implementation fidelity, and school and teacher characteristics.

Products: The products of this project will be evidence of the efficacy of the combination of two teacher training programs, the Good Behavior Game and My Teaching Partner, for improving new teachers' classroom management practices and consequently their students' behavior and academic achievement. Peer-reviewed publications will also be produced.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study takes place in elementary schools in two Maryland school districts (one urban and the other a mix of urban, suburban, and rural schools) and one urban/suburban Virginia school district.

Sample: The targeted sample size is 252 teachers entering their first year of teaching. Eligible teachers have not previously worked as a classroom teacher; all will have been hired to start full-time classroom instruction for grades K–3 in the fall following recruitment and initial training sessions. All eligible teachers will have completed a bachelor's or master's degree program in the field of education and be eligible for certification. Approximately eight students in each participating teacher's classroom are randomly selected for participation in the study.

Intervention: My Teaching Partner (MTP) is a web-based, individualized coaching approach that supports teachers' interactions with students to enhance their engagement, motivation, and on-task behavior in the classroom. MTP consultants use the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) as the basis for feedback to teachers on the three CLASS dimensions of Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, and Instructional Support. The Good Behavior Game (GBG) uses a game format to help teachers manage classroom behavior. In GBG, the teacher establishes classroom rules and creates small teams of five to eight children who must work cooperatively to maintain good behavior in order to win the game. When a student breaks a classroom rule, the teacher identifies the behavior and the rule that was violated and gives a point to that student's team. Each team that has four or fewer points is rewarded. By combining these two empirically proven programs, the intention is to support new teachers as they transition to teaching by highlighting the importance of high-quality teacher-student interaction to promote student engagement and learning (My Teaching Partner) along with the value of creating group contingencies to promote on-task behavior and achievement motivation (Good Behavior Game) and to systematically and more formally train teachers on the shared emphasis of these programs on classroom organization.

Research Design and Methods: Three consecutive cohorts of 84 new teachers hired to begin teaching in the upcoming school year are randomly assigned (from within school districts) to intervention or control. Data from these teachers and their students are collected for two consecutive years. Teacher pre-tests are obtained at the beginning of regular district training, prior to teachers learning about their assigned condition. Student pre-tests will be gathered one month into the school year. Post-test assessments and ratings will be obtained in late spring of each year. The student assessment procedures are repeated for the class that enters the teachers' classroom the year following the completion of training to track teachers' continued use of the skills to test for sustained effects on teachers. The quality of teacher-student interactions will be assessed at each of these time points and at the mid-point of the first year and at the end of the first month of the second year and at the mid-point of the second year. Teacher reports of self-efficacy, professional burnout, work stress, and other teacher level outcomes/moderators will be obtained prior to training and at the end of the first year and second year. Other data elements will be collected annually from archival records maintained by the school.

Control Condition: In the control condition, teachers receive standard training that is in place at the school.

Key Measures: Teacher outcomes are measured with a variety of instruments including the Knowledge of Effective Teacher-Student Interactions scale, Beliefs about Intentional Teaching, the CLASS, the Teacher Sense of Self Efficacy Scale, and the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Student outcomes are measured using the Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement III (reading and math subtests), the Multi-Option Observation System for Experimental Studies (aggressive/disruptive and on- or off-task behavior ), the Teacher Observation of Classroom Adaptation-Revised, and archival school record data (grades, standardized test scores, attendance, suspensions, referrals for discipline and to special education services). Implementation fidelity is measured through classroom observations, teacher reports, website usage, and coaching logs.

Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will use mixed-model analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) to determine treatment effects on teacher and student outcomes. They will also explore how implementation fidelity affects outcomes using three different approaches—a Wilcoxon test that assumes a dose response model, propensity scores, and complier average causal effect modeling. The researchers will use latent growth models to determine whether teacher classroom management practices mediate effects of the intervention on student outcomes. Moderation of impact will be determined by including interaction terms in the ANCOVA models.