Enhancing Father Engagement to Promote Social, Behavioral, and Academic Outcomes
Co-Principal Investigator: William Pelham (Florida International University)
Purpose: This project adapts and tests the Coaching Our Acting Out Children: Heightening Essential Skills (COACHES) program for implementation in schools. This is a clinic-based program to help fathers of children with or at risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) get more involved and engaged in their child's school performance. Research indicates that parent training focused on child behavior can help children with ADHD, yet little is known about how programming specifically designed for fathers might benefit these students.
Project Activities: First, the project team will refine the COACHES model by delivering the program in the context of a recreational sports activity at school. Through this implementation of COACHES, the team will support the fathers in the use of strategies to communicate, support, and intervene to foster school success for their child with ADHD. The researchers will then test this model to determine its feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of program components. The team will complete a final pilot test with fathers randomly assigned to COACHES or typical behavioral parent training in the final project year.
Products: The research team will produce a fully developed program for use in schools to promote engagement of fathers in the education of their child with ADHD. Researchers will also produce all materials needed to support school-based implementation (e.g., manuals, fidelity of implementation measures) and peer-reviewed publications.
Setting: The study will take place in elementary and middle schools in New York and Florida.
Sample: Participating families (approximately 100; 40 during the development phase and 60 during the pilot test phase) have a child between the ages of six and twelve (grades kindergarten through sixth) with symptoms and impairment consistent with a diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Each participating child has at least one male parent/legal guardian who also participates. Exclusion criteria for child participation are an IQ less than 70, psychosis, prior participation in one of the researchers' studies, or home schooling. Mothers, teachers, school clinicians, principals, and physical education teachers also participate.
Intervention: The COACHES program is designed to promote positive parent-child interaction (e.g., use of appropriate commands and limit setting, fewer criticisms), consistent parenting, and home-school communication. Researchers will develop specific components in this project to support school-based implementation including strategies for fathers to promote homework completion and organization of school materials (e.g., book bags, binders) and father involvement in and supervision of child behavior during sports activities. The program for schools is planned in two-hour sessions once per week (approximately 8–12 sessions) after school and on the weekends. During the first hour, fathers learn how to implement effective parenting strategies during groups led by school psychologists or counselors. Concurrently, children practice soccer skills in drills led by physical education teachers and para-professional counselors. During the second hour, parent and child groups merge to play a soccer game. Fathers practice the skills they just learned and school clinicians provide real-time feedback to fathers. Fathers are assigned weekly homework and encouraged to work with their partner (e.g., the child's mother) to establish home-school communication. The school-based intervention will include a COACHES-School manual (procedures for father-focused parent training), father-child activities (academic- and sports-focused), video vignettes for father sessions, a revised COACHES workbook, and strategies to foster organization and homework completion. The program also includes three co-parenting focused sessions with a school counselor using a conjoint behavioral consultation approach to establish a school and home Daily Report Card (DRC) with contingent home-based privileges and rewards attached.
Research Design and Methods: In the first two years, the research team will hold focus groups with key stakeholders (e.g., fathers, school clinicians, physical education teachers) and will complete two field trials to inform modifications to the current program to support school-based implementation. The team will develop and pilot youth soccer skill drills with children from the participating schools. Researchers will test co-parenting and parent-school communication strategies within existing summer program settings for children with ADHD. In the final year, the research team will randomly assign fathers to COACHES or an active treatment control group to determine the promise of the school-based model. In the open field trials and the randomized pilot test, mothers, fathers, teachers, school clinicians and children will complete ratings and participate in observations to measure outcomes at baseline, end of active treatment, and at one-month follow-up. Participants will also engage in an exit interview after program implementation to obtain feedback.
Control Condition: Fathers randomly assigned to the control group receive typical Behavioral Parent Training.
Key Measures: Researchers will assess student outcomes using observations (e.g., Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System III), parent report (e.g., Alabama Parenting Questionnaire), teacher report (e.g., Academic Performance Rating Scale), and indicators of student functioning (e.g., Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory, school records of attendance and office discipline referrals). The team will measure home-school communication using a parent-teacher involvement questionnaire. In addition, they will measure co-parenting using the Parenting Alliance Measure. Researchers will also assess potential moderators of program impact (e.g., the Adult ADHD Self-report Scale).
Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use descriptive statistics and pre-post change analyses to estimate effect sizes during the development phase. Researchers will use analysis of variance to analyze pilot study data.