Abstract: Improving Teacher-Child Relationships and Interactions within a Tier-2 Program in Preschool Classrooms (Society for Prevention Research 24th Annual Meeting)

136 Improving Teacher-Child Relationships and Interactions within a Tier-2 Program in Preschool Classrooms

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Grand Ballroom C (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Kevin Sutherland, PhD, Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Maureen Conroy, PhD, Professor, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
James Algina, PhD, Professor, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Introduction: Findings from two recent studies (Morris et al., 2014; Schindler, 2015) highlight the need for interventions that can be delivered in classrooms by teachers that can effectively reduce child problem behaviors. On the one hand, universal programs have some positive effects on children’s social/emotional outcomes that may help prepare them for Kindergarten and beyond. On the other hand, this programming may not be intensive enough to impact the large number of children who exhibit chronic problem behavior (Qi & Kaiser, 2004).

The combination of problem behavior and unprepared teachers is likely to result in negative, and often coercive, teacher-child interactions which ultimately contribute to poor teacher-child relationships. The salience of teacher-child interactions and relationships is highlighted by research that suggests that the proximal nature of these interactions predicts greater growth in children’s academic achievement than other more distal processes (Early et al., 2006). BEST in CLASS is a manualized program that targets improvements in teacher-child interactions and relationships through training and coaching teachers to increase the frequency and quality of delivery of several evidence-based instructional practices to focal children during ongoing classroom activities. This paper will describe the effects of BEST in CLASS on teacher-child relationships and teacher-child interactions within a multisite randomized control trial.

Methods: Data from a multi-site cluster randomized control trial, with classrooms randomly assigned to treatment (n = 92) or comparison (n = 94) within schools within site, were used. Children (treatment, n = 232; comparison, n =237) were systematically screened for problem behavior. Trained observers measured teacher-child interactions using an interval based system (TCIDOS; Sutherland et al., 2014), as well as the InCLASS (Downer et al., 2010); observers also used the CLASS (Pianta et al., 2008) to assess classroom atmosphere. Teachers rated teacher-child relationships using the Student Teacher Relationship Scale (STRS; Pianta & Hamre, 2001).

Results: Small to moderate positive effects were noted across measures of teacher-child interactions (ESs from .27 to .45), relationships (ESs from .26 to .29), and classroom atmosphere (ESs from .41 to .55), with observed reductions in negative teacher-child interactions and increased positive teacher-child interactions noted on the TCIDOS.  All improvements were associated with the BEST in CLASS treatment group.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that BEST in CLASS is a promising Tier-2 intervention that has a positive impact on factors associated with positive child outcomes, including teacher-child interactions and teacher-child relationships, as well as positive effects on the broader classroom atmosphere.