Abstract: The Implementation Readiness of the French Adaptation of the Wits Program (DIRE-MENTOR) within the Current Legislative, Professional and Administrative Contexts of the Québec’s Elementary Schools (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

635 The Implementation Readiness of the French Adaptation of the Wits Program (DIRE-MENTOR) within the Current Legislative, Professional and Administrative Contexts of the Québec’s Elementary Schools

Friday, May 31, 2019
Seacliff B (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Francois Bowen, PhD, Professeur titulaire, Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada
David Smith, PhD, Professor, University of Ottawa, Orrawa, ON, Canada
Bonnie Leadbeater, Ph.D., Professor, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
Eric Morissette, MBA, Adjunct professor, University of Montreal, Montréal,, QC, Canada
Isabelle Montesinos Gelet, PhD, Professor, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, Canada
Judith Beuulies, PHD, Professor, Université du Québec en Outaouais, 5 rue Saint-Joseph, QC, Canada
Rhéanne Lachance-Guay, BA, Research Assistant, Université de Montréal,, Montreal, QC, Canada
Dupuis-Brouillette Dupuis-Brouillette, MEd, Reseach Assistant, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
The French adaptation of the WITS program, called DIRE-MENTOR (www.leprogrammedire.ca) is similar to the original WITS and WITS LeaderS Programs (Leadbeater, Bowen and Smith, - SSHRC-Grant, 2011; Labelle and Leadbeater, 2014). In this presentation, we outline how the implementation and the evaluation processes of DIRE-MENTOR had to be adjusted to take into consideration two challenges related to the Québec context. First, the curriculum of the undergraduate teacher training programs does not prepare them to teach efficiently using children’s pictures books nor does it support children’s socioemotional learnings (Lépine and Hébert, 2018; Bowen et al. 2018). These skills are at the core of the WITS Programs. Secondly, since 2012, Québec's schools legislation has required all schools to implement and evaluate interventions to prevent violence. However, the extent and content of these requirements are not well specified leaving schools to develop their own strategies.

Because of this it was not easily to create a control group (i.e. schools with no intervention) or even to find schools that were implementing similar interventions to act as contrast schools. These aspects present challenges to schools’ implementation readiness for an evidence based program (Wanless and Domitrovich, 2015. They also present challenges for the development of a research evaluation design that could take into account the growing numerous and diversity of practices in the violence prevention in schools. In view of this political environment, we undertook a four year, mixed methods, longitudinal study (2017-2021) of the growth of implementation of the DIRE-MENTOR program in ten elementary schools that initially differ in their levels of implementation readiness.

We used teachers’ self-reported questionnaires, (n=228) to assess their perceptions of the following teaching skills: 1- Competence to intervene with children showing behavioral problems and 2- Teaching practices with pictures books and literacy. We also investigate the level readiness of the school organization (self-reported questionnaire answered by whole staff,(n=345); and conducted interviews with the school directors, n=16). We found significant disparities in the teaching competence to intervene in children’s behaviors. We also found important gaps between knowledge of the efficient teaching practices with pictures books and literacy, on one hand, and the actual extent putting them into practice, on the other hand. However, despite identified differences between schools’ environments (urban, suburban, rural); different in SES; culturally homogeneous or not; alternative or traditional pedagogy) there is significant common ground between them concerning the vision of how best to prevent and reduce violence. The discussion focuses on how to develop strategies to attain good implementation fidelity, while integrating new programs with the others good practices already existing in these schools.