Educational Outcomes of the Incredible Years Small Group Program for Early Elementary Students with Self-Regulation Difficulties
Purpose: This study will determine the efficacy of a small group social-emotional and behavioral intervention, the Incredible Years Dina Dinosaur Treatment Program (IY-child), for helping early elementary school students with social-emotional and behavioral difficulties. Many children with these difficulties do not respond adequately to universal intervention efforts. As a result, they are at risk for frequent discipline referrals, academic underachievement, and conflict with peers and teachers that interferes with learning for themselves and other students. Researchers will test the IY-child program to determine if it can prevent this negative trajectory for young students with self-regulation challenges.
Project Activities: The research team will recruit students in kindergarten, first, and second grade classrooms identified by their teachers as having self-regulation difficulties over three years and will randomly assign classrooms to IY-child or a services-as-usual control group. Researchers will use data gathered from teacher reports, classroom observations, direct child assessments, and school records to assess hypothesized immediate and longer-term changes in targeted outcomes.
Products: Researchers will produce evidence of the efficacy of the Incredible Years Dina Dinosaur Treatment Program to improve social-emotional competencies, behavior, and school achievement for students in early elementary school. The research team will also produce peer-reviewed publications.
Setting: This study will take place in about 16 public elementary schools in the central region of North Carolina.
Sample: Approximately 224 K to 2nd grade students will participate. Eligible students are those who exhibit significant disruptive behavior based on teacher report (excluding those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, significant intellectual or physical deficits, or who are placed full-time in special education classes). Most eligible students are expected to be male and African-American or Hispanic. Group leaders (two per school) are clinical therapists and school-based mental health professionals. Teachers (from an estimated 192 eligible classrooms) and parents will also participate.
Intervention: The Incredible Years Dina Dinosaur Treatment Program (IY-child) is a small-group (4 to 6 children), mixed-age pullout program co-led by a clinical therapist and a school-based counselor. Forty group sessions (45–60 minutes long) are held twice weekly over a 20 week period. Students view brief video vignettes of same-age children in different situations where social-emotional skills and self-regulation are modeled. Students also participate in discussions facilitated by life-sized puppets, and engage in role-play practices and small group activities. Group leaders also provide individual consultation to teachers of participating students. Parents and their child are invited to attend two to three meetings in the evenings at the school to reinforce small-group content.
Research Design and Methods: Over three years, eligible students will be randomized within teacher to the intervention or control condition to balance teacher classroom management style across groups. Group leaders will participate in a three-day local training before school starts. An IY trainer will provide two onsite consultation days for group leaders over the school year. Group leaders will provide individual consultation twice per month for 15–20 minutes to teachers of participating students. Group leaders will assist each teacher in developing an individualized classroom behavior plan incorporating strategies used in the small group. Student measures will be collected at baseline, immediately following the 20-week intervention period, and during the next school year.
Control Condition: Students randomized to the control group will not participate in IY-child, but may receive any other available school services.
Key Measures: Researchers will assess student's inhibitory control, social-emotional skills, disruptive behavior, and academic and social-emotional competence via multiple measures including teacher report (e.g., the Revised Teacher Social Competence scale, the Achenbach Teacher Report Form), direct student assessment (e.g., Puzzle Box Task, Wally's Social Problem Solving Task), classroom observation (e.g., the Coder Observation of Child Adaptation-Revised (COCA-R)), and school records (report card grades, discipline referrals, and special education referrals and service use). The team will assess teacher classroom management style using the Adapted Teacher Style Rating Scale and the Effective Behavior Support Survey. The research team will also collect existing fidelity measures of small group content and quality reflecting core intervention components.
Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use confirmatory factor analysis to determine whether measures cohere as proposed to be used as factors in outcome analyses. Researchers will adopt an intent-to-treat approach, with full information maximum likelihood (FIML) accommodating missing data. Researchers will use mixed linear and path analytic approaches to evaluate specific aims and all statistical models will account for nesting of students. Researchers will evaluate teacher behavior management supports as a key moderator. Finally, the research team will identify mediators for any observed effects based on the theoretical mechanisms of change including social-emotional skills and inhibitory control.
Related IES Projects: Effects of the Incredible Years Dinosaur Classroom Prevention Program on Preschool Children's Executive Functioning and Academic Achievement (R305A150431)
Journal article, monograph, or newsletter
Dong, N., Reinke, W.M., Herman, K.C., Bradshaw, C.P., and Murray, D.W. (2016). Meaningful Effect Sizes, Intraclass Correlations, and Proportions of Variance Explained by Covariates for Planning Two-and Three-Level Cluster Randomized Trials of Social and Behavioral Outcomes. Evaluation Review, 40(4), 334–377.
Murray, D.W., Lawrence, J.R., and LaForett, D.R. (2017). The Incredible Years® Programs for ADHD in Young Children: A Critical Review of the Evidence. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 1063426617717740.
Murray, D.W., Rabiner, D.L., Kuhn, L., Pan, Y., and Sabet, R.F. (2018). Investigating Teacher snd Student Effects of The Incredible Years Classroom Management Program in Early Elementary School. Journal of School Psychology, 67: 119–133.