Effects of Classroom Management Training on Early Learning Skills
Co-Principal Investigator: David Rabiner
Purpose: Considerable evidence suggests that teacher classroom management practices play a large role in determining the amount of time students engage in academic tasks, but there has been little experimental research on the direct benefits of classroom management training for academic achievement. The Incredible Years teacher training program (IYT) has been shown to be effective in improving classroom management practices in early elementary school and in enhancing children's social competence, emotion regulation skills, and behavior. However, academic outcomes of this program have not been examined. In this efficacy study, the research team will examine the effects of IYT on the academic performance of students in kindergarten through second grade and determine the extent to which classroom behavior mediates the relationship between teacher classroom management skills and students' academic performance in the classroom.
Project Activities: The IYT program teaches specific strategies for managing student behavior. These strategies focus on building relationships with students and working with parents, using praise and incentives, promoting academic and social/emotional competence, and managing misbehavior. Although the content of this curriculum is not unique, the method of training is—teachers play a more active role in the learning process and are supported both in and out of the classroom as they implement the strategies they learn. In this study, teachers are randomly assigned within schools to participate in the IYT intervention or a control group. Teachers in the control group will participate in the intervention the following year. Assessments will occur at the beginning and end of the intervention year to examine short-term impact of the program, and again at the midpoint of the following school year to determine sustained and longer-term impacts of the program on teacher practices, student behavior and academic outcomes.
Products: The expected products of this study include published reports on the effects of IYT on the academic achievement of students in kindergarten through second grade, and on the extent to which classroom behavior mediates the relationship between teachers' classroom management skills and students' academic performance in the classroom. Given the relatively greater costs of this intensive teacher training intervention, the results of this study have the potential to help school districts and school administrators decide if greater up-front investment of time and money are offset in the long run by classrooms with fewer behavior problems and increased attention, leading to more opportunities for learning and enhanced academic achievement.
Setting: The setting is two rural school districts in North Carolina.
Population: Study participants are 115 kindergarten, first and second grade teachers and their students in 11 public elementary schools.
Intervention: The IYT program offers teachers strategies for effectively managing classroom behavior. The training model used in this program has three core components: (1) video-based modeling, (2) opportunities for practice and rehearsal, and (3) teacher consultation. The IYT program involves five full-days of training with each day devoted to a new topic and separated by three to four weeks to allow for implementation of the newly learned strategies in the classroom. Teachers learn how to (1) encourage and praise students, (2) motivate students through the use of incentives, (3) proactively prevent problem behaviors, (4) decrease inappropriate and off-task behavior, and (5) build positive relationships with all students in the classroom and their parents. During each training day, teachers view and discuss videotaped vignettes of unrehearsed teacher-student classroom interactions to observe effective and ineffective classroom strategies. IYT trainers then model the effective strategies, after which teachers break out into small groups and role play what they have learned. Finally, teachers develop written plans for applying the strategies in their classrooms. During the period between training days, teachers read a book, How to Promote Children's Social and Emotional Competence, and are given assignments for practicing the new strategies in the classroom. Each teacher chooses a fellow teacher who also participated in the training day to provide support and reinforcement for practice. Trainers provide further support by visiting teachers in their classrooms to observe and provide consultation as needed. Depending upon each teacher's ability to implement the strategies and the number of challenging behavior issues each teacher faces in the classroom, teachers have two to five meetings with study trainers to provide additional support for their classroom management.
Research Design and Methods: Teachers are randomly assigned to treatment or a one-year wait-list control group. In the first year, teachers in one school will participate in the IYT training. In the second year, teachers in five new schools will receive the training along with control teachers from the Year 1 school. In the third year, teachers in five new schools will receive the training along with control teachers from the five Year 2 schools. In the final year, control teachers from the Year 2 schools will receive the training. The intervention will be implemented from October to March of each school year, with pre- and post-intervention assessments occurring in September and April, respectively. Follow-up assessments occur in January of the school year following intervention implementation.
Control Condition: Teachers who are assigned to the wait-list control group will receive the typical professional development for classroom management that is currently provided in the school districts.
Key Measures: The measures used in this efficacy study will assess proximal (classroom management skills), mediating (classroom behavior), and distal (academic performance) outcomes. Teachers' classroom management practices will be measured using items from two domains (Emotional Support and Classroom Organization) of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). Classroom behavior will be assessed using the DSM-IV Inattentive Scale on the Conners' Teacher Rating Scale-Revised (CTRS-R:L), the "Student Engagement," "Peer Interactions," and "Student Misbehavior" items from CLASS, and the Revised Teacher Social Competence Scale (TSC). Academic performance will be measured using the Academic Competence subscale of TSC and the STAR Early Literacy and Reading and STAR Math computerized assessments.
Data Analytic Strategy: The direct and mediated effects of the IYT program on academic performance will be assessed using multilevel models to study student, teacher and classroom effects. Exploratory analyses will be used to determine if IYT is most effective for students with difficulties in social competence and behavior, any potential long-term benefits of IYT on classroom behavior and academic performance, and whether the impact of IYT on teachers' classroom management skills is sustained into the following school year.