Testing the Efficacy of Embedded Social Skills within a Universal Classroom Management Program: Well-Managed Schools
Purpose: The purpose of this project is to examine the efficacy of embedded social skills instruction within a universal classroom management program. The research team will conduct a randomized control trial with elementary school teachers and students to evaluate the efficacy of Well-Managed Schools (WMS), a classroom management program that focuses on preventive strategies that include teaching and reinforcing social skills within day-to-day classroom management.
Project Activities: The project uses a cluster randomized trial, with classrooms first randomly assigned to one of two cohorts and then randomly assigned to conditions. The study will follow two cohorts, each for two years, with intervention and data collection occurring the first year, and follow-up assessments being administered during the second year. The research team will collect data from observations, teacher measures, and student measures on three occasions during the first year; follow-up observations and teacher assessment will occur twice during the second year. The research team will begin data analysis in Year 3 of the project, followed immediately by dissemination activities.
Products: The research team will provide evidence of the impact of WMS on teachers' classroom management practices and evidence of the effect of those practices on student social and academic outcomes. Researchers will also present findings in reports, conference presentations, and peer-reviewed journal manuscripts.
Setting: The study will take place in elementary schools in seven school districts total from Iowa and Nebraska.
Sample: The participants in this study are 440 elementary school teachers (grades 1–5) and 10 students from each teacher's classroom, for a total of 4,400 students.
Intervention: Well-Managed Schools is a widely used manualized classroom management program adapted from the Teaching Family Model (Wolf et al., 1976) for use in general education classrooms. WMS uses the approach of embedding social skills instruction into daily instructional activities and using naturalistic opportunities to re-teach skills using the teaching interactions. The main components that make up WMS are: (1) building positive relationships and classroom climate; (2) teaching school success skills; (3) reinforcing classroom and school success skills to increase appropriate behavior; and (4) responding to inappropriate behavior through corrective teaching strategies.
Research Design and Methods: The project uses a cluster randomized trial, with classrooms first randomly assigned to one of two cohorts and then randomly assigned to conditions. After recruitment and randomization at the classroom level to treatment or business as usual, teachers assigned to treatment will receive two days of training on WMS. Treatment teachers will also receive four coaching consultation visits, which will involve a 20-minute classroom observation followed by feedback. Comparison group teachers will not receive coaching or training but researchers will observe them for fidelity of implementation. Each cohort will be followed for 2 years, with the first year being the intervention year for the treatment group. At the beginning of each cohort's first year (Year 1 for Cohort 1; Year 3 for Cohort 2), researchers will randomly select five girls and five boys within each classroom to participate in the study. For each cohort, researchers will collect data from teachers and students three times during the first year. The team will not measure students in the second year, but observation and measurement of teachers will occur twice in the second year.
Control Condition: Researchers will assess teachers and students in the control condition on the same schedule as the treatment teachers and students, but the classroom practices will be business as usual.
Key Measures: The research team will assess classroom atmosphere using the Classroom Atmosphere Rating Scale which measures structural characteristics, instructional behaviors, classroom management strategies, student behavior, and aggregate personal and behavioral characteristics across the classroom. They will use the Student-Teacher Relationship Scale to assess teachers' relationships with students over time. Researchers will assess student behavioral functioning using teacher ratings of student social adjustment via the Social Skills Improvement System and self-perceived social competence via items from the Social Competence Rating Scale for Children, The team will measure student engagement using the Engagement vs. Disaffection with Learning Scale — Student Report. In addition, researchers will use standardized test scores and data from administrative records.
Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will address the primary research questions using multilevel modeling. The researchers will also use multilevel modeling to address questions regarding potential moderators and mediators of the treatment effects.