Using Validated Measures of Children's Engagement with Teachers, Peers, and Tasks to Guide Teachers' Response Toward Children with Emotional and Behavioral Challenges
Co-Principal Investigator: Amanda Williford (University of Virginia) and Rebecca Shearer (University of Miami)
Purpose: Early self-regulation difficulties, particularly evident in children from low-income families, often result in patterns of challenging behaviors (e.g., impulsivity) that negatively impact academic achievement and are demanding for teachers to manage. Evidence-based practices exist for preschool teachers to apply in their work with children with challenging behaviors, but the promise of such practices has gone unrealized as teachers either do not use them or apply them ineffectively. The purpose of this project is to develop a set of professional development resources designed to help prekindergarten teachers more easily identify and understand children’s engagement in the classroom context and more efficiently choose appropriate evidence-based strategies that will increase children’s self-regulation skills. The project team will develop a teacher consultation model, Learning to Objectively Observe Kids (LOOK), intended to:
By changing teacher practice, it is expected that children’s social-emotional competence and academic skills will improve.
Project Activities: The LOOK consultation model will be developed over a three-year period. In year 1, prototype versions of the core components of the intervention will be developed. In year 2, a field test of the intervention components will be conducted with a sample of 12 teachers from preschool classrooms in Florida and Virginia. Qualitative and quantitative data will be collected to examine the feasibility of implementation of the intervention components. In year 3, Head Start teachers from preschool classrooms in Florida will participate in the pilot study implementation of LOOK. Data will be collected to examine the potential effects of the LOOK intervention on teachers’ classroom behavior and practices and children’s social, behavioral, and academic outcomes.
Products: The products of this project will be a fully developed teacher consultation professional development model for use in prekindergarten classrooms. Peer reviewed publications will also be produced.
Setting: This study will be conducted in Head Start preschool classrooms that serve three- and four-year-olds in a rural area in central Virginia and an urban area in Florida.
Sample: Study participants will include teachers and children from preschool programs serving children from low-income backgrounds. Consultants will also participate in supporting teachers. The initial development work will be completed with a sample of five teachers from the Central Virginia preschool classrooms. One mental health consultant will participate in the development work. The field test study sample will include 12 teachers from the Virginia and Florida preschool classrooms. Two mental health consultants (each one assigned to six teachers) will participate in the initial field test of the LOOK consultation model. The pilot study sample will include 26 intervention teachers and 26 matched comparison teachers from Head Start classrooms in Florida. Two mental health consultants (each one assigned to 13 teachers) will participate in the initial field test of the LOOK consultation model.
Intervention: The fully developed Learning to Objectively Observe Kids (LOOK) consultation model will include:
For the assessment reporting system component of the intervention model, data from the Individualized Classroom Assessment Scoring System (inCLASS) and Adjustment Scales for Preschool Intervention (ASPI) measures will be used to develop detailed, teacher-friendly reports about children’s engagement, interactions with peers and teachers, and behavioral skills. The video-based, online course content will be developed and aligned with the constructs from the inCLASS and ASPI measures. The course content will be developed to help teachers understand children’s classroom interactions and how to work with children to improve the quality of peer-peer and teacher-child interactions. The guided video review component of the intervention will provide opportunities for teachers to observe children’s behaviors, provide feedback on their observations, and work with consultants to become better observers of children’s challenging behaviors. Teachers will also have access to a video library of preschool children engaged with teachers, peers, and tasks that are aligned with the inCLASS and ASPI measurement tools. Teachers, with initial guidance from their mental health consultants, will use data from the inCLASS and ASPI reports to select appropriate, evidence-based strategies to support children who display challenging behaviors. Consultants will work with teachers on an ongoing basis to provide guidance and support to teachers implementing each component of the LOOK model.
Research Design and Methods: The LOOK consultation model will be developed over a three-year period. In year 1, prototype versions of the core components of the intervention will be developed, revised, and further developed with input from a small group of teachers and an expert advisory group. In year 2, a field test of the intervention components will be conducted. Qualitative and quantitative data will be collected to determine whether the intervention content and process are delivered as intended; to assess the degree to which teachers and children respond positively to the intervention; and to obtain feedback regarding possible revisions to the intervention components. Fidelity of implementation measures will be developed and used to collect data on teachers’ and consultants’ implementation of the intervention components. In year 3, Head Start teachers and three target children from each classroom will participate in the pilot study. The target children will be identified based on their scores on the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA). Data will be collected from parents and teachers, and classroom observations will be conducted. Parents will complete a demographic questionnaire. Teachers will provide ratings of target children’s social-emotional skills, classroom behavior and emotion regulation. Target children will be observed to assess their engagement with teachers, peers, and tasks. Throughout the pilot study year, teachers in the LOOK intervention group will record videotape footage of the three target children for the guided review coaching cycles. Participating teachers will complete regular contact logs about their coaching cycles and interactions with their consultant, surveys immediately following particular intervention components, and an end-of-year survey regarding their experiences with LOOK. Consultants will complete similar measures and a demographic questionnaire. The researchers will also track teachers’ use of web resources.
Control Condition: Due to the nature of the research design, there is no control condition in the first two years of the project. For the pilot study phase of the development grant, data from a previous study will be used to create a matched comparison group of “business-as-usual” teachers and children from the same Head Start program.
Key Measures: The measurement tools will include interviews; focus groups; observational measures; teacher, consultant, and parent surveys; programmatic records; and website logs. Fidelity measures will be developed, applied, and revised during the prototype and field study phases. Final versions of the fidelity measures will be used to document and evaluate the implementation of the components of the LOOK intervention during the pilot study. A set of self-report scales will be used to measure teacher knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The Ideas About Children questionnaire will be used to assess teachers’ beliefs and ideas about teaching young children. Child behavior vignettes will be used to assess teachers’ beliefs, attributions, and responses to specific child behaviors (e.g., prosocial, aggressive, shy, and unsociable). A multiple-choice scale will be created to test teacher understanding of and knowledge about children’s classroom engagement. Teachers’ ability to observe and detect effective interactions will be assessed by an adapted version of the Video Assessment of Interactions and Learning (VAIL).The Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) will be used to assess teachers’ global classroom behavior. The Emerging Academic Snapshot is an observational measure that will be used to assess children’s experiences in the classroom. Children’s engagement with teachers, peers, and tasks within the classroom will be assessed using the inCLASS. Children’s social-emotional and behavioral skills and emotion regulation will be measured using the ASPI and the Emotion Regulation Checklist (ERC). Children’s peer interactions will be assessed using the teacher version of the Penn Interactive Peer Play Scale (PIPPS-T). Children’s classroom behavior will be measured using the DECA. Children’s academic and social functioning will be assessed using the Galileo System for the Electronic Management of Learning. The Galileo assessment will be completed online at least three times per year by teachers to track children’s development and growth in the eight Head Start school readiness domains: Approaches to Learning, Creative Arts, Early Mathematics, Language and Literacy, Nature and Science, Motor Development, Physical Health, and Social and Emotional Development.
Data Analytic Strategy: Qualitative (e.g., coding) and quantitative analyses (e.g., analysis of variance and hierarchical linear modeling) will be completed to answer a series of formative and summative research questions. In the field test phase of the project, data from interviews, focus groups, and classroom observations will be analyzed to examine feasibility of implementation of the LOOK intervention components. In the pilot study phase of the project, a series of analyses will be completed to examine fidelity of implementation of the program components, and the potential impacts of the intervention on teachers and children.
Journal article, monograph, or newsletter
Downer, J.T., Williford, A.P., Bulotsky-Shearer, R.J., Vitiello, V.E., Bouza, J., Reilly, S., and Lhospital, A. (2017). Using Data-Driven, Video-Based Early Childhood Consultation with Teachers to Reduce Children's Challenging Behaviors and Improve Engagement in Preschool Classrooms. School Mental Health: 1–17.
Williford, A.P. and Shelton, T.L. (2014). Behavior Management for Preschool-Aged Children. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics, 23(4), 717–730.