Abstract: Are All Program Components Created Equal? Relations Between Specific Responsive Classroom Practices and Teacher-Student Interaction Quality (Society for Prevention Research 24th Annual Meeting)

05 Are All Program Components Created Equal? Relations Between Specific Responsive Classroom Practices and Teacher-Student Interaction Quality

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Pacific D/L (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Tashia Abry, PhD, Assistant Research Professor, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Sara E. Rimm-Kaufman, PhD, Professor, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Timothy W. Curby, PhD, Associate Professor, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
School-based social-emotional learning (SEL) programs are often taught to teachers as packaged programs. Yet, research seldom examines which program components have the greatest leverage for improving targeted outcomes. We took a novel approach toward addressing this issue, in the context of a randomized controlled efficacy trial of one SEL program, the Responsive Classroom (RC) approach (Northeast Foundation for Children, 2007). Specifically, we (a) looked beyond the efficacy of RC as a packaged program by examining how use of specific RC practices related to improvements in the quality of teacher-student interactions, and (b) tested whether teachers’ use of RC practices was differentially associated with interaction quality as a function of their initial interaction quality. Moving beyond identification of effective programming toward identification of effective practices is a needed next step in prevention science as a way to streamline efforts to enhance learning climates and promote student well-being.

In a sample of 132 third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade teachers’ trained in the RC approach, we examined the main and moderated effects of four RC practices (Morning Meeting, Rule Creation, Interactive Modeling, and Academic Choice) on the quality of emotional, organizational, and instructional interactions in the classroom (accounting for baseline interaction quality and teacher/classroom characteristics). Teachers’ use of RC practices was derived from a combination of direct observations (conducted throughout the school year) and teacher report (collected at the end of the school year). Observations of teacher-student interactions were conducted at two points prior to RC training (as baseline) and five points throughout the school year following RC training, using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (Pianta, LaParo, & Hamre, 2008).

Results indicated positive (α<.05) relations between teachers’ use of Academic Choice and improvements in emotional (β=.18), organizational (β=.17), and instructional (β=.14) interactions. In addition, teachers’ baseline interaction quality moderated multiple associations such that the strongest relations between practices and interaction quality were typically seen for teachers with the lowest levels of baseline interaction quality. In one case, the strongest association emerged for teachers with the highest baseline interaction quality. 

These results suggest (a) teachers’ use of Academic Choice holds particular promise to enhance the quality of teacher-student interactions, and (b) in some cases, use of RC practices is especially beneficial for teachers with a history of lower interaction quality. Discussion will focus on implications for intervention evaluation, development, and effective teacher practice.