Effects of the Incredible Years Dinosaur Classroom Prevention Program on Preschool Children's Executive Functioning and Academic Achievement
Co-Principal Investigators: Christina Christopoulos (Duke University), Desiree Murray (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), and Patrick Malone (Duke University)
Purpose: The purpose of this project is to evaluate the combined effects of the Incredible Years Dinosaur Classroom Prevention Program (IY Dina) classroom curriculum and the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management (IYT) teacher professional development program on classroom climate and subsequent child social-emotional functioning, executive functioning, and early academic skills. Both cognitive and social-emotional aspects of self-regulation are predictive of school readiness and academic achievement. Research indicates that behavioral and relational components of the classroom climate are critical for creating positive learning environments in which children can realistically manage demands and successfully develop self-regulation skills. Researchers will evaluate the synergistic effects of the two interventions on classroom climate and children's social behavioral and academic skills.
Project Activities: The researchers will evaluate the efficacy of two fully developed interventions targeting children's social behavioral skills and classroom climate in preschool classrooms when implemented together. They will randomly assign classrooms to treatment and control groups, train treatment group teachers to implement the two interventions, and collect pre- and post-test data from two cohorts of children, teachers, and classrooms. The researchers will conduct analyses to evaluate the impact of the interventions on teacher practices and child outcomes and disseminate the study findings.
Products: The product of this project is evidence of the efficacy of two simultaneously implemented interventions for preschool children and teachers. Researchers will also produce peer-reviewed publications.
Setting: The study will take place in 120 four-year prekindergarten classrooms in four counties in North Carolina.
Sample: The study participants include 120 classrooms/teachers and approximately 1200 preschool children in North Carolina's state-funded preschool program, which includes preschool classrooms in public schools, Head Start, and private child care centers.
Intervention: The research team will implement two interventions simultaneously in treatment classrooms. The Incredible Years Dinosaur Classroom Prevention Program (IY Dina) is a social-emotional curriculum that addresses skills to support children's development of self-regulation, improve school behavior, and enhance social competence. The IY Dina intervention will be combined with Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management (IYT), a teacher training and coaching program. The IYT teacher professional development program targets teachers' use of effective classroom management strategies for building consistent routines, promoting positive relationships, strengthening prosocial behaviors, and addressing misbehaviors.
Research Design and Methods: Researchers will conduct a cluster randomized trial with 120 classrooms, teachers, and two cohorts of children. In Year 1, the research team will hire and train coaches to work with teachers in the treatment group, and recruit participants for the Cohort 1 study sample. In Year 2, researchers will randomly assign Cohort 1 classrooms and teachers to treatment and control conditions. Teachers in the treatment group will receive training and coaching support to implement the intervention. The research team will collect pre- and post-intervention data from children and teachers, and conduct classroom observations. In Year 3, they will recruit and randomly assign Cohort 2 classrooms and teachers, train treatment group teachers, and collect data. They will also follow the Cohort 1 sample into kindergarten and collect child assessment data. In Year 4, the researchers will follow the Cohort 2 sample into kindergarten and collect data. Comparison group teachers will receive training to implement the combined intervention. The researchers will conduct data analyses and disseminate study findings.
Control Condition: The comparison group will receive no additional interventions or coaching beyond standard instruction offered by the prekindergarten programs.
Key Measures: Primary measures include direct assessments of children's academic achievement and executive functioning, teacher report of children's social behavioral skills, classroom observations, and teacher questionnaires. Direct child assessments will include the Affect Knowledge Test, the Challenging Situations Task, four subtests from the Blair-Willoughby executive function battery, and the Letter-Word Identification, Picture Vocabulary, Oral Comprehension and Applied Problems subscales from the Woodcock-Johnson III Normative Update Tests of Achievement. Teachers will use the Social Competence and Behavior Evaluation (SCBE-30) and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functions (BRIEF-P) to rate children's social behavioral skills. Teachers will complete the Teacher Strategies Questionnaire, a measure of teacher confidence and classroom management style. The Classroom Assessment Scoring System will be used to measure classroom quality. Implementation fidelity measures include the Dina Dinosaur's Unit Checklist and the Teacher Child Group Process Rating Scale.
Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use multilevel modeling to examine effects of the combined intervention on classroom climate and children's social-emotional executive function skills and academic achievement. They will also conduct a cost analysis.
Related IES Projects: Educational Outcomes of the Incredible Years Small Group Program for Early Elementary Students with Self-Regulation Difficulties (R305A150169 ); Effects of Classroom Management Training on Early Learning Skills (R305A090361); Evaluation of a Video-Based Modeling Program to Promote Effective Teacher Classroom Management Practices (R305A100342)