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Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning


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FY Awards

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Testing the Efficacy of INSIGHTS in Enhancing the Academic Learning Context

Year: 2008
Name of Institution:
New York University
Goal: Efficacy and Replication
Principal Investigator:
McClowry, Sandee
Award Amount: $2,919,913
Award Period: 4 years
Award Number: R305A080512


Purpose: Teachers' evaluations of student abilities, level of adjustment, and intelligence are highly influenced by their perceptions of children's temperament. Consistently, school-age children who are perceived to be low in task persistence, high in activity, and high in negative reactivity are much more likely to demonstrate negative outcomes including disruptive behavior patterns and poor academic achievement. INSIGHTS is a comprehensive preventive intervention for children in kindergarten and first grade, in which teachers and parents are taught strategies that match a child's temperament and enhance self-regulation. The primary aim of this group randomized trial is to test the efficacy of INSIGHTS, compared to a read aloud program, in enhancing the academic learning context of kindergarten and first grade inner-city classrooms.

Project Activities: The research team is examining the efficacy of INSIGHTS, a comprehensive intervention that includes teacher, parent, and child components. The content of the teacher and parent programs is delivered in 10 two-hour parallel facilitated sessions using a structured curriculum that includes didactic content, professionally produced vignettes (27 for teachers, 25 for parents), handouts, and group activities. During the same 10-week period, the participating children and their classmates are involved in a 45-minute classroom component. The facilitator and the teacher use puppets and drama therapy techniques with the children to teach that, based on temperament, various situations are easy for some individuals while others are challenging.

Products: Products from this project include published reports of the efficacy of a comprehensive intervention for kindergarten and first grade children and their parents and teachers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will be conducted in partnership with 22 low performing schools in a major urban center in New York.

Population: The child participants for this study will include approximately 792 students who will be recruited in kindergarten and followed through first grade. Their parents and teachers will also participate. The children and their teachers will be from approximately 178 classrooms. The majority of the participants are expected to be African American.

Intervention: INSIGHTS into Children's Temperament is a structured, facilitated 10-week intervention with teacher, parent, and child components. Teachers and parents learn temperament-based strategies intended to reduce the behavior problems of school-age children, support their competencies, and enhance their ability to self-regulate. In the classroom program, the participating children and their classmates engage puppets in daily dilemmas to enhance empathy and problem-solving skills.

Research Designs and Methods: Twenty-two schools will be randomized to two intervention conditions, INSIGHTS or Read Aloud, on a yearly basis for three cohorts (seven in Year 1, eight in Year 2, and seven in Year 3).

Control Condition: The participating children in the control condition will attend a 10-week after-school read aloud program. Reading coaches also conduct two workshops, each two hours long, for teachers and for parents that offer strategies for making reading enjoyable for children.

Key Measures: Among the outcomes that will be studied are student academic achievement and classroom behavior, including aggression, engagement, attentiveness, and the teacher-child relationship. Student academic achievement will be measured with the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement Form B, Letter-Word Identification and Applied Problems subtests; the Academic Competence Evaluation Scales (ACES). Student-level classroom behavior will be measured using the Sutter-Eyberg Student Behavior Inventory (SESBI), which is the teacher version of the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory and the Behavioral Observation of Students in Schools (BOSS). Student attentiveness will be measured by the Attention Sustained subtest of the Leiter International Performance Scale Revised (Leiter-R). Relationship with teacher is measured using the Student Teacher Relationship Scale (STRS). Classroom climate is being measured using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), and the Teacher Attitudes about Parent Involvement (TAPI).

Data Analytic Strategy: Hierarchical linear modeling will be used to describe how children's classroom behaviors change over time, identify predictors of change, and examine the mediating role of change in classroom behaviors on the association between INSIGHTS and achievement over time.

Related IES Projects:
Does Early Intervention Benefit Social-Emotional and Academic Development in Middle School? A Follow-up Study of INSIGHTS (R305A160177)
Testing the Efficacy of INSIGHTS for Promoting Positive Learning Environments and Academic Achievement in Nebraska: A Replication Study R305A180290



McClowry, S.G. (2014). Temperament-Based Elementary Classroom Management. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

McClowry, S.G. (2016). Using What Works: Elementary School Classroom Management. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Book chapter

Collins, A., Colwell, N., and McClowry, S.G. (2012). Maintaining Fidelity of the Intervention. In B.M. Melnyk, and D. Morrison-Beedy (Eds.), Designing, Conducting, Analyzing and Funding Intervention Research: A Practical Guide for Success (pp. 215–229). New York: Springer.

McClowry, S.G., and Collins, A. (2012). Temperament-Based Intervention: Reconceptualized From a Response to Intervention Framework. In R. Shiner, and M. Zentner (Eds.), Handbook of Childhood Temperament (pp. 607–627). New York: Guilford Press.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Cappella, E., O'Connor, E.E., McCormick, M., Turbeville, A., Collins, A., and McClowry, S.G. (2015). Classwide Efficacy of INSIGHTS: Observed Teacher Practices and Student Behaviors in Kindergarten and First Grade. The Elementary School Journal, 116(2): 217–241.

Martin, N.K., Schafer, N.J., McClowry, S., Emmer, E.T., Brekelmans, M., Mainhard, T., and Wubbels, T. (2016). Expanding the Definition of Classroom Management: Recurring Themes and New Conceptualizations. Journal of Classroom Interaction, 51(1): 31–41.

McCormick, M.P and Cappella, E. (2015). Conceptualizing Academic Norms in Middle School: A Social Network Perspective. Journal of Early Adolescence, 35, 441–466.

McCormick, M. P., Cappella, E., O'Connor, E. E., and McClowry, S. G. (2015). Context Matters for Social-Emotional Learning: Examining Variation in Program Impact by Dimensions of School Climate. American Journal of Community Psychology, 56(1): 101–119.

McCormick, M. P., Cappella, E., O'Connor, E., Hill, J. L., and McClowry, S. (2016). Do Effects of Social-Emotional Learning Programs Vary by Level of Parent Participation: Evidence from the Randomized Trial of INSIGHTS. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 9(3): 364–394.

McCormick, M.P., Cappella, E., O'Connor, E.E., and McClowry, S.G. (2013). Parent Involvement, Emotional Support, and Behavior Problems: An Ecological Approach. Elementary School Journal, 114(2): 277–300.

McCormick, M.P., Cappella, E., O'Connor, E.E., and McClowry, S.G. (2015). Social-Emotional Learning and Academic Achievement: Using Causal Methods to Explore Classroom-Level Mechanisms. AERA Open, 1(3): 1–26.

McCormick, M.P., O'Connor, E.E., and Barnes, S.P. (2016). Mother–Child Attachment Styles and Math and Reading Skills in Middle Childhood: The Mediating Role of Children's Exploration and Engagement. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 36, 295–306.

McCormick, M.P., O'Connor, E.E., Cappella, E., and McClowry, S.G. (2015). Getting a Good Start in School: Effects of INSIGHTS on Children With High Maintenance Temperaments. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 30: 128–139.

McCormick, M.P., O'Connor, E.E., Cappella, E., and McClowry, S.G. (2013). Teacher–Child Relationships and Academic Achievement: A Multilevel Propensity Score Model Approach. Journal of School Psychology, 51(5): 611–624.

McCormick, M.P., O'Connor, E.E., and Horn, E.P. (2017). Can Teacher-Child Relationships Alter the Effects of Early Socioeconomic Status on Achievement in Middle Childhood?. Journal of School Psychology, 64, 76–92.

McCormick, M.P., Turbeville, A.R., Barnes, S.P., and McClowry, S.G. (2014). Challenging Temperament, Teacher-Child Relationships, and Behavior Problems in Urban Low-Income Children: A Longitudinal Examination. Early Education and Development, 25(8): 1198–1218.

O'Connor, E.E., Cappella, E., McCormick, M.P., and McClowry, S.G. (2014). An Examination of the Efficacy of Insights in Enhancing the Academic and Behavioral Development of Children in Early Grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(4): 1156–1169.

O'Connor, E.E., Cappella, E., McCormick, M.P., and McClowry, S.G. (2014). Enhancing Academic Development of Shy Children: A Test of the Efficacy of INSIGHTS. School Psychology Review, 43(3): 239–259.

Shiner, R.L., Buss, K.A., McClowry, S.G., Putman, S.P., Saudino, K.J., and Zentner, M. (2012). What is Temperament Now? Assessing Progress in Temperament Research in the 25 Years Following Goldsmith et al. (1987). Child Development Perspectives, 6(4): 436–444.