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Effects of Grade Level and Target Status on the Acquisition of Knowledge of Problem-Solving Strategies in a Universal Co...


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EFFECTS OF GRADE LEVEL AND TARGET STATUS ON THE ACQUISITION OF KNOWLEDGE OF PROBLEM-SOLVING STRATEGIES IN A UNIVERSAL COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION By LEAH SHELIDE A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN EDUCATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2003

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Copyright 2003 by Leah Shelide

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iii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank Dr. Nancy Waldr on for her guidance and support throughout the completion of this project and throughout my graduate studies. I also extend sincere thanks to Dr. David Miller for granting me th e opportunity to work with him and for his assistance on this project. Also, I would lik e to thank Dr. Ann Daunic for her flexibility, her tolerance, and her frequent reminders th at I was making a valu able contribution. I am grateful to all of the teachers an d support personnel in the Bradford County Public School District who supported and assisted me with this project. I also would like to thank my moth er, Judy Moruzzi, for her wisdom, her friendship, and her quiet insist ence that success wa s the only option. I also offer my sincere appreciation to Rich ard Moruzzi for his support a nd encouragement throughout my adult life. I would especially like to thank the three people I ad mire the most, my children, Erin, Emily Ann and Abby. They continue to amaze and inspire me. I am grateful to them for teaching me so much about life, for their unwavering love and belief in me throughout the years, and for the re flection I see in their eyes.

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iv TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS..................................................................................................iii LIST OF TABLES.............................................................................................................vi CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................................1 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE......................................................................................5 School Violence...........................................................................................................6 Aggressive Behavior and Achievement.......................................................................7 Prevention....................................................................................................................9 Review of Social Skills Programs..............................................................................11 Theoretical Foundations to Social Skills Programs...................................................17 Tools for Getting Along.............................................................................................20 Problem Statement.....................................................................................................21 3 METHOD...................................................................................................................23 Participants.................................................................................................................23 Program Description..................................................................................................24 Teacher Training........................................................................................................25 Instruments.................................................................................................................25 Procedure...................................................................................................................26 4 RESULTS..................................................................................................................27 Descriptive Statistics..................................................................................................27 Analysis of Variance..................................................................................................28 5 DISCUSSION............................................................................................................29 Limitations of the Study.............................................................................................31 Directions for Future Research..................................................................................32

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v APPENDIX A PARENT CONSENT FORM....................................................................................35 B STUDENT NOMINATION FORM..........................................................................36 C PROBLEM SOLVING QUESTIONNAIRE.............................................................37 LIST OF REFERENCES..................................................................................................43 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................49

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vi LIST OF TABLES Table page 4-1 Means and standard deviations by grade.................................................................27 4-2 Means and standard deviations by target/nontarget status......................................28

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vii Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Ma ster of Arts in Education EFFECTS OF GRADE LEVEL AND TARGET STATUS ON THE ACQUISITION OF KNOWLEDEGE OF PROBLEM-SOLVING STRATEGIES IN A UNIVERSAL COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION By Leah Shelide August 2003 Chair: Nancy Waldron Major Department: Educational Psychology The current study investigated the effects of grade level and target status on the acquisition of knowledge of problem-solvi ng strategies in a universal cognitivebehavioral intervention. Twenty-six student s in grades three a nd four received the 15lesson social skills curriculum Tools for Getting Along Of the 26 students participating in the study, 15 were targeted by their teacher s as exhibiting or being at risk for the development of aggressive and/or disruptive behavior. The Problem-solving Questionnaire (PSQ), consisting of multiple-choice items taken directly from the curriculum, was used to assess how well students learned curriculum content. All stude nts completed the PSQ prior to the implementation of the curriculum and within one week after the entire curriculum had been completed. Consistent with previous research, all participants made gains in knowledge of problem-solving strategies from preto post-test measures. Using ANCOVA, no significant difference was found by grade leve l or by target/nontarget status.

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viii Results of this study support the use of social skills training programs as primary prevention in the early grades. The escal ation of school violence, the link between aggressive behavior and school achievement, and implications for future research are discussed.

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION In recent years, teachers have reported a dramatic increase in a variety of aggressive and disruptive behaviors among st udents at the elementary school level. Problems in peer and other interpersonal rela tionships in elementary school have been shown to predict long-term ma ladjustment, including juvenile delinquency, school drop out, and criminal behavior in adulth ood (Lochman, Dunn & Klimes-Dougan, 1993). Instructing students in problem-s olving and pro-social skills in an attempt to reduce these problematic behaviors may play a significant role in assisting them to become accepted and respected members of society, both in school and in the comm unity at large. The Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1995 (IDEA) clearly established the goal of educating children with disabilities, includ ing children with behavioral disorders, in the general education classroom. As suc h, general-education t eachers are requesting programs through which they can address a nd attempt to remediate disruptive and aggressive behaviors in all st udents. The findings of a su rvey using the Social Skills Rating System highlights the importance teache rs place on a student’s ability to regulate anger and exhibit appropriate social skills in the classroom (Gresham & Elliot, 1984). In this survey, a nationally representative samp le of general educati on teachers rated the item “controls temper in conflict situations” as one of the top ten most important social skills for classroom success. Further, incr easing numbers of general education teachers are requesting the assistance of school psyc hologists to provide guided instruction in social problem-solving and the development of social skills (Possell & Abrams, 1993).

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2 Many would agree with Elliott, Racine, & Br uces' (1995) assertion that one of the critically important goals of childhood is the developmen t of socially successful relationships. Elliott et al. (1995) encour age school psychologists to address the treatment of social skills in their daily practices. In fact, it has been suggested (Goldstein, 1999) that school psychologists should not only be involved, but should be major decision makers in terms of selection and im plementation of social skills programs. Whether the role of the school psychologist is direct provisio n of problem-solving curricula in the classroom or the training of teachers and other support personnel in the implementation of such programs, the opportunity for supportive and cooperative relationships between teachers and school psyc hologists increases w ith the inclusion of social skills programs. Primary prevention programs aimed at reducing aggressi ve and disruptive behaviors promote healthy development, impa ct the largest number of children, and may reduce the need for diagnostic, curative or corrective/remedial services in the future (Simeonsson, 1994). Further, because universal programs (directed toward all children in the school population/classroom) also target se lected students (children who are at some risk for developing the problem), the institution of universal cognitive-behavioral problem-solving curricula is one increas ingly popular method of facilitating the development of better problem-solving strategi es in the school setting. Positive results from successful interventions directed towa rd aggressive and di sruptive behaviors can improve current behavior, thereby increasing th e rate of on-task behavior for the entire class; and also can improve future adju stment for those children identified as demonstrating the most problematic aggres sive behaviors (Lochman et al. 1993).

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3 Regardless of the methods used in teaching problem-solving strate gies, virtually all programs in social-skills tr aining (Possell & Abrams, 1993) incorporate the following problem-solving steps: € Identify the problem € Generate alternative solutions € Anticipate the consequences of those solutions In recent years several primary and s econdary prevention programs designed to reduce aggressive and disruptive behaviors have been developed and implemented in school settings. For example, The Art of Self Control and Th ink First: Anger and Aggression Management for Secondary-Lev el Students are secondary prevention programs that consist of 10 to 12 anger-man agement training sessions; are based on the cognitive-behavioral problem-solving mode l (Lochman, Dunn & Wagner, 1997); and are frequently implemented only with the most problematic students on a pull-out basis. Although each program has its own indivi dual and unique components, both programs include training in the basic problem-solving steps. However, these and many other such programs were designed primarily for use with middle and high-school students. Although two programs, Second Step: A Violence Prevention Curriculum and Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) include curricula for students as young as pre-school age, in general, program s for children younger than 4th grade are underrepresented (Lochman et al., 1997). This underrepresentation may be due to longheld beliefs about the inabil ity of younger children to use formal operational reasoning, despite research indicating that children as young as seven ye ars of age have been shown to utilize such reasoning under appropriat e testing conditions (Danner & Day, 1977; Slater & Kingston, 1981). In fact, many resear chers now believe that the age at which

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4 children can be trained to solve formal operational problems has been greatly overestimated (Bjorkland, 2000). Currently, most social-skills interven tion programs in schools are designed for initial implementation in fourth throu gh sixth grades. Many such programs are implemented on a pull-out basis with only the most aggressive or disruptive students. The purpose of this study was to examine the ef fects of grade level and target status on the acquisition of knowledge of the basic problem-solving components of a cognitivebehavioral curriculum designed to reduce a ggressive and disruptive behaviors. This research will extend our understanding of th e ability of younger students and targeted aggressive students to benefit from cognitivebehavioral social skills interventions. Specific research questions were € When a cognitive-behavioral intervention is implemented in mixed third and fourth grade classrooms, are there significant di fferences in the acquisition of knowledge of problem-solving strategies betwee n third and fourth grade students? € When a cognitive-behavioral intervention is implemented universally in general education classrooms, are there signifi cant differences in the acquisition of knowledge of problem-solving strategies between target and nontarget students?

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5 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE The majority of social skills intervention programs in schools are designated for initial implementation in fourth through sixth grades. Consequently, social skills training programs intended for students in kindergar ten through third grades are drastically underrepresented (Lochman et al., 1997; Taub, 2002). This delay in providing intervention programs is of significant conc ern given that aggre ssive and disruptive behaviors among students at th e elementary level predict long-term maladjustment (Lochman et al., 1993). Insuring that the youngest students acquire knowledge of problem-solving strategies, if only the most rudimentary vocabulary in problem-solving and pro-social skills, can be a positive first step toward preparing them for advanced training in the later grades and thus improving long-term outcomes for all children. Further, many social-skills training pr ograms are typically implemented on a pullout basis targeting the most aggressive or disruptive students. However, not only has Congress clearly established the goal of edu cating all children in the least restrictive environment (IDEA-1997), but at least one study reveals that the practice of grouping deviant and aggressive youth for skills tr aining can actually produce harmful effects (Arnold & Hughes, 1999). Because universal programs (directed at all children in the school population/classroom) also target selected students (ch ildren who are at some risk for developing the problem), the institution of universal cognitive-behavioral problemsolving curricula is one increasingly popular method through which the needs of at-risk students can be met, while simultaneously fulfilling the basic tenets of IDEA.

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6 This chapter begins with a discussion of the escalation of school violence and highlights the need for student training in problem-solving in our schools. This is followed by a description of the link between aggressive behavior and achievement and a description of primary preven tion and it's role in reduci ng aggressive and disruptive behaviors. Next, a review of current soci al skills training programs, their theoretical underpinnings, and research findings are incl uded along with a review of the intervention used in the current study, Tools for Getting Along. School Violence Although slight decreases in the incidence of school violence have been observed over the past ten years (U.S. Department of Education, 1999), dramatic increases of youth violence in general over the previous thir ty years bring concerns about safe schools and violence prevention programs to the forefront (Reiss & Roth, 1993). Traditionally, school violence has been defined by activities involving homicide, assault, theft, vandalism, and ot her such crimes. Recently, however, experts believe that it may be more appropriate to define school violence more broadly to include verbal as well as physical aggression, bully ing, and other acts that may lead students to feel intimidated or fearful of their fellow stude nts (Shapiro, 2000; Bats che, 2000). Support for this belief comes in many forms, not the least of which includes reviews of statistics and national figures citing startling facts and figures regarding the prevalence of violence in schools today. For example, one recent survey indicates that more than one in three students (39% of middle schoolers and 36% of hi gh schoolers) say they don't feel safe at school (Byrnes, 2000). This is not surprising considering that the sa me survey indicated 43% of high school and 37% of mi ddle school boys believe it is "OK" to hit or threaten a person who makes them angry and that 75% of all boys and 60% of all girls in the survey

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7 reported having hit someone in the past 12 months because they were angry. Preoccupation with threats of violence and safety concerns may be taking a severe toll on the ability of students to focus on the goals of schooling and learning. Research indicates that aggres sion in school is most often directed at peers and that most aggressive behaviors ar e displayed by boys toward other boys, although incidents of female aggression are certainly not ne gligible (Laub & Lauritsen, 1998). Aggression in schools is important not only because of the immediate harm and disruption it causes, but also because of the longer-term cons equences (both in and out of school) that can result from such aggression. Indeed, students w ho are identified as violent or aggressive in the early elementary school years are at selected risk for a host of serious behavioral difficulties including anti-social acts, deli nquency, violent offenses in the community, school failure, school drop-ou t and incarceration (L aub & Lauritsen, 1998; Lochman, et al., 1997; Morrison, Furlong & Morrison, 1994). Because juvenile aggression tends to be stable over time, early interventions designed to address both the individual characterteristics of such aggressive children and the social contingencies that affect their aggressive responses may be mo st effective in reducing these problematic outcomes if they can be implemented be fore aggression becomes stable (Laub & Lauritsen, 1998). Aggressive Behavior and Achievement Although creating peaceful and safe school environments through the reduction or elimination of aggressive behaviors in school children may be a worthy endeavor in it's own right, the link between violent and aggres sive behaviors and achievement may be an even greater incentive to actively address this growing problem. Some may fear that time spent addressing pro-social behavioral issues in the classroom may reduce time available

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8 for academic tasks, but research over the past 25 years consistently indicates that there is an increasingly strong relationship between positive social behavior and academic achievement (Lambert & Nicholl, 1977; Green, Forehand, Beck, & Vosk, 1980; Feshbach & Feshbach, 1987; Wentzel, 1993; DiPerna & Elliott, 1999; Malecki & Elliott, 2002). Malecki & Elliott (2002) assert that the id ea of a causal relationship between prosocial behaviors and academic achievement in the classroom is not something new, but rather an idea espoused by two noted theori sts of human behavior and learning, Vygotsky and Bandura. Both theorists emphasized the influence of social behavior on cognitive functioning. Vygotsky (1978) ar gued that positive social functioning with peers is not only desirable, but necessary in the developmen t of new ideas and skills and that students working cooperatively gain more skills than when working alone (Slavin, 1995). Bandura suggested that learning is a social process and that th e social context affects the learning of new skills as the child interacts, listens, and observes the behavior of those around him (Malecki & Elliott, 2002) One of the strongest and most convinci ng indicators of a positive relationship between pro-social behaviors and achievem ent in recent years was highlighted in Wentzel's (1993) literature review of the re lationship between prosocial behaviors and achievement. Wentzel found that pro-social behaviors in school children (e.g. following the rules and conforming to social exp ectations) can actually "enable academic achievement" through the creation of a social context for learning goals. Malecki and Elliott (2002) validate Wentzel's findings in th eir study of social behaviors as predictors of academic achievement among third and fourth grade students. Results from this study

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9 indicate that social skills positively predict current and future academic achievement and that problem behaviors are negatively predictiv e of academic achievement. Therefore, if, as many believe, the purpose of our schools is to promote learning and achievement, it may be incumbent upon schools to concurren tly teach pro-social skills along with academics in an effort to foster that goal. Prevention The question then arises, "How should we go about promoting pro-social behaviors in primary and secondary school children a nd toward which children should our efforts be directed?" Primary prevention is the term used to describe prevention efforts that are implemented before the target condition manife sts itself in order to prevent new cases of the target condition. Because the prevention of maladap tive behaviors can also be described as the promotion of well being, prim ary prevention can also be defined as the promotion of health, development, and adap tation through the reducti on of risk factors and/or the promotion of prot ective factors (Albee & Ryan -Finn, 1993; Sameroff & Fiese, 1990; Simeonsson, 1996). A second type of prevention effort popul ar in schools today is termed secondary prevention. Secondary prevention efforts typi cally are directed at problem conditions that have already been id entified but have not yet cau sed disability. Secondary prevention is favored by many because it is often possible to identify and target populations exhibiting a particul ar problem, and prevention effo rts can be more focused. However, secondary prevention efforts frequent ly tend to look more like treatment than prevention (Sameroff & Fiese, 1990). For ex ample, teaching problem-solving strategies to adolescents who have alre ady displayed significant eviden ce of poor social skills

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10 through aggressive, disruptive, or non-compliant behavior is more of a band-aid approach than a prevention approach. The third form of intervention comm on in schools today is called tertiary prevention (Sameroff & Fiese, 1990). Tertiary efforts are directed toward problems that have already manifested themselves and resu lted in negative outcomes such as teen pregnancy and school dropout. Tertiary pr evention efforts can help minimize the negative consequences of an existing problem and mitigate damage to the community at large. Efforts are often aimed at rehabil itation and/or educati on, which can serve the good of not only the individual, but of society as a whole. The mistaken beliefs that there are single causes for disorders and that those causes can be wiped out by treating individuals ha s led to a major focus on secondary and tertiary prevention efforts. However, research appears to contradict these two beliefs and suggests that because there can be multiple causes for disorders and because causes for psychological and/or social pr oblems are not as easily isol ated and identified as the causes of biological disease, it may be prudent to focus efforts on prevention rather than treatment (Sameroff & Friese, 1990). Even if tertiary treatment were an affordable option, which as demand increases is not lik ely to be the case, it is often not a good solution because it does not prevent probl ems from occurring in the first place (Simeonsson, 1996). Indeed, disease has neve r been eliminated or controlled through treatment but has been controlled primar ily through prevention: e.g. widespread immunization (Braden & Hightower 1998). If this alone is no t justificatio n for a more intensive focus on prevention rather than treat ment, consideration should be given to the fact that the demand for mental health servic es today is high and constantly rising, which

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11 may eventually make it impossible to meet. One solution, therefore, is to decrease the need for mental health serv ices through prevention programs. In many cases, primary prevention would appear to be the most ideal form of prevention that can be offered to children and youth in our schools. Because its primary focus is to reduce new cases of the problem, it is the model that will addre ss the largest number of children whether they in fact "need" it or not. Using a public he alth example, smallpox has been eliminated because all children were immunized whether or not they were at risk for exposure to the disease. Approaches to overcoming the barriers to primary prevention efforts and funding are varied. Political activism can be an effective tool (Dadds, 2001) as can the development of social marketing technique s (Chamberlin, 1996), which can be described as learning to get the message out to the right people, in th e right way, at the right time about the positive effects of prevention programs. Education of communities regarding their current short term outlooks and increa sing the focus on the societal benefits of prevention in terms of improved safety, redu ced numbers of teenage pregnancies, lower school drop-out rates, reduced rates of juvenile delinquenc y and less welfare dependency as a mechanism to improve society as a whole may be needed to pave the way for future prevention efforts. Review of Social Skills Programs In recent years, several primary and secondary prevention programs designed to reduce aggressive and disruptive behaviors have been developed and implemented in school settings. Whether students are experi encing acquisition deficits or performance deficits in the use of prosocial behaviors, these progr ams offer one vehicle through which these deficits can be remediated and social competence can be acquired or

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12 enhanced (Gresham, Sugai, & Horner, 2001). Although modes of delivery vary slightly, most programs include components that focus on social problem-solving, impulse control, perspective taking, em pathy, verbal mediation, and modeling (Lockman et al., 1993; Lockman, et al., 1997; Merrell, 2002; Taub, 2002). To facilit ate the acquisition and application of these skills, techniques such as brainstorm ing, role-play, rehearsal, and goal setting are used. Two such programs, Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) and Second Step: A Violence Preven tion Curriculum, both of which include units designed for early elementary le vel students, are highlighted here. PATHS is an intervention program desi gned to develop emotional competence in children. The program was originally develo ped in the 1980s for use with deaf and hearing-impaired children, but has since b een implemented successfully in general education classrooms. PATHS is a univers al, classwide intervention implemented by classroom teachers for students in kindergarte n through fifth grade and includes a series of 131 lessons (Greenberg, Kusche, & Mihalic 1988; American Federation of Teachers, 1994). The four main focus areas of the cu rriculum are teaching students to stop and calm down, providing linguistic cues to enha nce understanding of self and others, increasing problem-solving skills, and fostering self esteem and positive peer relations (Lochman et al., 1993). The PATHS program is organized into three main units (readiness and self control, feelings and relationships, and interpersona l cognitive problem-solving) which address five increasingly complex areas of concep tual concern: self control, emotional understanding, positive self-e steem, relationships, and in terpersonal problem-solving skills.

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13 The Second Step program, developed by Th e Committee for Children in Seattle, Washington, is designed to prevent aggressive behavi ors by increasing pro-social behavior. The three essential competencies covered by the curriculum include empathy, impulse control/problem-solving, and ange r management. Through the class-wide implementation of the intervention, students learn how to resist impulsive behavior, resolve conflict, problem solv e, and think through the cons equences of their actions (Committee for Children, 2002; Taub, 2002). Th e identification of f eelings experienced by self and others play a large part in the program. The Second Step program includes units geared toward pre-school, elementary level, and middle school student s. Like the PATHS program, lessons are generally taught two times per week in 30-minute sessions. Both the PATHS and Second Step programs attempt to improve social skills through di rect instruction of social problem-solving strategies. Modes of instruc tion include modeling, rehearsal, role plays, and the use of verbal mediation, all of which have proven e ffective in the teaching of perspective taking skills (Feshbach, 1989), impulse control (Spivack & Shure, 1982), and anger management (Novaca, 1975). Because both the PATHS and Second Step programs provide units for several levels of instruction, lessons are tailored to fit the developmental le vel of students. For example, the first few lessons of PATHS (des igned for use in the pre-school setting), include stories about a young turtle facing interpersonal problems because he doesn't stop and think (Greenberg, Kusche, & Mihalic, 1988; American Federation of Teachers, 1994). Similarly, program components of the elementary level of Second Step provide live-action videos of same-age students expr essing emotions in real-life situations

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14 (Committee for Children, 2002). In both programs, the social skills targeted in any given lesson and the types of problems addresse d are built upon previous lessons learned. Although the effectiveness of the PATHS and Second Step programs has not been extensively researched, evaluations that are available offer encouraging results, supporting the use of such programs at th e elementary and pre-school levels. Developers of the PATHS program repor t promising results at the elementary level in several clinical tr ials comparing students who r eceived the program to matched controls (Greenberg, et al., 1988). Res earchers demonstrated that the PATHS intervention significantly incr eased students' conceptual knowledge and ability to recognize and understand emotions and social problems, generate effective solutions, and decreased the percenta ge of aggressive or violent so lutions. One study examining the effects on 200 general education students after one full year of the intervention indicated that students receiving the PATHS curri culum made significant improvement on measures of social problem-solving and emo tional understanding compared to controls, and were significantly less likely to use aggr essive solutions and more likely to use prosocial solutions in addressing conflicts and problems. At a one-year follow-up, significant effects for emo tional understanding and probl em-solving were sustained (Greenberg & Kusche, 1996). Consistent with the results listed ab ove, findings of an independent study implementing an adapted version of the PATH S curriculum in a pre-school setting with at-risk four-year-olds also has demonstrated positive results. In this study, PATHS intervention children showed decreases in negative em otion, along with greater involvement and more initiative in positive peer activity compared to controls. Further,

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15 intervention children were described thr ough teacher report as improving socially (Denham & Burton, 1996). Results of independent evaluations of th e Second Step program indicate that second and third grade students receiving the curricu lum became less physically aggressive and increased their positive social interactions wh ile the aggressive beha vior of students at control schools actually rose. Researchers interpret this finding to reflect the likelihood that the intervention may have served a role in the prevention of increased aggressive behavior at the intervention sc hool. However, parent and teacher reports of these same behaviors, did not differ si gnificantly from control schools (Grossman, et al., 1997). Additionally, pre-school and kindergarten students demons trated increased conceptual knowledge of social skills and decreases in observed levels of verbal aggression and disruptive behavior, even though teacher ratin gs did not differ across time (McMahon, 2000). Researchers suggest that the reason why pa rent rating scales did not reflect less aggressive behavior may have been due to the differences of behavior exhibited by children in the home as opposed to the school se tting. They suggest that results may have been different if other family members had also received the intervention. When considering why teacher ratings did not im prove, researchers hypot hesized that rating scales lack sensitivity to be havioral change over a limited period of time. It was also noted that although teachers typically observe students in the classroom setting, observers from their studies were able to gather data in multiple settings (e.g. playground, cafeteria) where social interaction is more likely to take place (Grossman et al., 1997). They further theorize that the teachers may have expe cted more changes in behavior than they

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16 observed or that the behavior al changes noted through direct observation may have been temporary in nature. They note the limited amount of time researchers were able to engage in direct observation of the children receiving the intervention and suggest that increased observation times may have resulted in findings more consistent with teacher rating scale observations (McMahon, 2000). All aforementioned evaluati ons of the Second Step program were conducted when the intervention was implemented with children from low-income, urban families. However, Taub's (2002) evaluation of the program implemented in a rural setting, suggests results just as promising. This study included students in third, fourth and fifth grades at the intervention school, as well as students in the same grades at a comparison school not receiving the intervention. Data co llection took place at three points over the course of the study: prior to the implementation of the interv ention, at the conclusion of the implementation of the intervention, and one year following the initial implementation of the intervention. Measures included a teacher rating sc ale and direct behavioral observations. Findings indicated significant improvements in teacher ratings of social competence and antisocial behaviors as well as improvements in pro-social behaviors (e.g. engaging appropriately with peers), as measured by independent behavioral observations. Behavioral observations of an ti-social behaviors, however, did not show the same improvement. Researchers hypothesize that these findings may be reflective of students' acquiring new skills while continuing to practice old behaviors and/or to the limited post-intervention observation period (15 minutes per child). Overall, evaluations of both the PATHS and Second Step programs implemented with children in pre-school through fifth gr ade using measures of social problem-solving

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17 ability as well as direct behavi oral observation have consiste ntly demonstrated significant improvements related to conceptual knowledge of the problem-solving process and the generation of effective solutions to everyday pr oblems. Less consistent results have been demonstrated when teacher perceptions were measured. These mixed findings could be related to a host of factors including teacher bi as, a lack of sensitivity on the part of the instruments used, or any number of interveni ng variables. However, the most promising findings are those related to the interventions ability to sustain problem-solving skills over time. The fact that students retain the information they learn through these programs for at least one year following the intervention is good r eason to move forward with the universal implementation of such program s at the earliest grade levels. Theoretical Foundations to Social Skills Programs Contemporary intervention procedures designed to reduce aggressive and disruptive behaviors typically focus on teach ing the internal regulation of behavior through training in problem-solving strate gies (Goldstein, 1999; Gresham, 1990; Lochman, et al., 1993; Shapiro, 2000; Taub, 2002). An obvious and concurrent goal of such programs is to facilitate pro-social behavior. The advantage of such programs as primary prevention in schools, is their ability to reach not only all children in general education classrooms, but to also reach thos e children who, whether identified to be at risk or not, may be at signi ficant risk for anger control pr oblems. The research cited above clearly indicates that c ognitive-behavioral intervention s have, for the most part, demonstrated their success in reaching these goals. Cognitive-behavioral intervention (CBI) can be characterized as an intervention technique based on the incorpor ation of the basic principles and effects of behavior therapies (e.g. reinforcement, modeling, and feedback) with the mental components of

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18 cognitive therapies (e.g. self-talk, think-alouds and the examination of cognitions) for the purpose of producing modifications in per ceptions, thinking, feeling, and behavior (Kendall, 1993; Kendall, Ronan, & Epps, 1991; Manning, 1988). The roots of CBI can be found in the th eoretical foundations provided by prominent behavioral theorists such as Watson (1924) a nd Skinner (1953) and the cognitive theories of Vygotsky (1962), and Luria (1961). The comb ination of these theories in therapeutic applications represented a new wave of res earch by cognitive therapists such as Ellis (1962) and Beck (1970), who were among the firs t to demonstrate that verbal behavior can alter nonverbal behavior and that c ognitions (e.g. expectations, attributions, appraisals, etc.) can affect a nd mediate behavior. Concurren tly, other researchers focused on verbal self-regulation or "self-talk" (Meichenbaum, 1977) as a means to regulate behavior and compared the effects of self-i nstructional training to decrease impulsive behaviors (Meichenba um & Goodman, 1971). More recently, the link between feelings and their verbal labels has been investigated (Cicchetti, Toth, & Bush, 1988; Greenberg, DeKlyen & Speltz, 1989). This research suggests that the abil ity to consciously recognize and label emotion is a critical component in the development of social competence. Many young children may enter school not having been exposed to language to express their feelings. Without such a vocabulary to express their own emotions, children may be unable to understand the feelings of other children or th e effect of their actions (suc h as aggressive behavior) upon others (Cicchetti, et al, 1988; Greenberg, et al., 1989). Ther efore, development of basic vocabulary in this area may be indicated as a crucial first step toward social competence.

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19 Other recent research has focused on the next step toward social competence, cognitive problem-solving. This component focuses on improving students' ability to think through interpersonal conflicts, develop the habit of generating multiple solutions, and following step-by-step procedures to reach goals (Spivack & Shure, 1982; Weissberg, 1985). Students who have learned basic vocabularies and strategies and yet do not apply effective problem-solving beha viors can be characterized as having a performance deficit rather than a skill de ficit (Gresham et al., 2001). One way of conceptualizing such skill or performance de ficits is Dodge's (1986) social exchange model. Dodge's model is based on a child's pr ocessing of social cues in five sequential steps including the encoding of social cues, mental representation of the encoded cues, assessment or generation of potential behavior al responses, evaluati on and selection of a response, and enactment of that response. Angry and aggressive children frequently appear to have deficits at all 5 stages of this model (D odge, et al.1986; Lochman, et al., 1997). Dodge, et al. (1986) further proposed that aggressive ch ildren display the following five deficit characteristics € Increased rates of attending to hostile cues € Perception of others as having hostile intentions € Demonstration of strategies for dealing with problem situations that are less competent and are more action-or iented than verbally-oriented € Anticipation that aggressive solutions will have more positive and less negative outcomes € Demonstration of a lack of social sk ill in enacting a selected strategy Consistent with this model, the traini ng and application of cognitive-behavioral principles inherent in many c ognitive-behavioral social ski lls training programs address

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20 and attempt to restructure how a child percei ves and consequently reacts to difficult or problematic social situations, thereby remedia ting difficulties at each of the five steps. Tools for Getting Along The Tools for Getting Along curricul um is a 15-lesson anger management curriculum designed to reduce aggressive and disruptive behaviors and promote prosocial behaviors in fourth and fifth grad e students (Smith, Miller, & Daunic, 2002). Problem-solving skills are learned through the direct instruction of a 6-step problemsolving model. Lessons center around them es including the recognition of anger in oneself and others, how anger and frustration can create or exacerbate problems, training in the de-escalation of frustration or anger by engaging student cognitions, defining problems and generating solutions, selecti ng strategies to solve problems and the evaluation of outcomes (Smith et al., 2002). Like the PATHS and Second Step programs, The Tools for Getting Along curriculum, makes use of teacher modeli ng, role-plays, and skill rehearsal. The curriculum also includes components using pa ired and cooperative learning groups as well as frequent review of problem-solving concepts and steps. Additionally, a point system to reward student pa rticipation and incr ease generalization is utilized. The curriculum also includes the use of a "Ha ssle Log" designed to allow students to independently apply problem-solving steps a nd concepts to their own real-life problems and share results with teachers and peers (Smith, et al., 2002). After initial implementation of the T ools for Getting Along Curriculum, the program was evaluated over three dimensi ons: knowledge of curriculum components, behavior (as measured by teacher rating sc ales) and attitudes (as measured by teacher completed anger scales). Preliminary findings indicated all students, those targeted to be

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21 at risk and typical students, significantly incr eased their knowledge of problem-solving strategies (Smith et al., 2002). Follow up measures indicated this knowledge was maintained for at least five months. Additiona lly, teachers rated targ et students receiving the intervention as significantl y less aggressive than target students in the control group and anger control scores for target students receiving the curriculum improved at a marginally significant level (Daunic, Smith, Miller, Cr esap, & Shelide, 2001). Problem Statement Violence and aggressive beha viors in schools are important issues that must be addressed not only because of the immediate harm and disruption th ey cause, but also because of the longer-term consequences that can result from such aggression. Students who are identified as violent or aggressive in early elementary school frequently lack basic social skills and are at selected risk for many serious behavioral difficulties including delinquency, school fa ilure, and dropout. Further, research over the past 25 years has consistently shown a strong relationship between positive social behavior and academic achievement. In an effort to promote academic achievement and prevent aggressive and disruptive behaviors, several cognitive-behavioral intervention programs, such as PATHS, Second Step, and Tools fo r Getting Along, have been developed. Although the above mentioned interventions have been successfully implemented with students in pre-school through fifth gr ade and have shown consistent results in elevating students' problem-solving ability and pr o-social behavior as well as maintaining these abilities and behaviors ove r time, most social skills programs are still designated for initial implementation in fourth through sixth grades. Further, they are often implemented on a pull-out basis ta rgeting only the most aggressi ve or disruptive students.

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22 The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of grade level and student target status (desi gnated by teacher nomination) on the acquisition of knowledge regarding the basic problem-solving components of a cognitive-behavioral curriculum designed to reduce aggressive and disruptive behaviors. Specific research questions were: When the curriculum is implemented in mixe d third and fourth grade classrooms, are there significant differences in knowledge acquisition between third and fourth grade students? When the curriculum is implemented universa lly in general education classrooms, are there significant differences in knowledge acquisition between ta rget and nontarget students? It is hoped that this research will extend our understanding of the ability of younger students and targeted aggressive students to benefit from cognitive-behavioral social skills interventions.

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23 CHAPTER 3 METHOD Participants Participants for the present study were dr awn from a larger study conducted at the University of Florida, Department of Special Education entitled A Study of the Acquisition, Maintenance, and Generalization of a Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention to Prevent or Remediate Disruptive and Aggressive Behaviors in Inclus ive School Settings. Of eleven classrooms participating in this larger study in Bradford County, Florida, two classrooms were chosen for the present study. The two selected classrooms each included both third and f ourth grade students. Teachers from the selected classrooms sent consent forms (see Appendix A) home to the parents of all students in their cl asses. A total of 37 consent forms were distributed. Consent forms were returned from 11 third grade and 15 fourth grade students, for a total of 26 participants. Prior to the return of parental consent forms, teachers were asked to complete a Student Nomination Form (see Appendix B) to identify students in their classes who might stand to benefit most from the Tools for Getting Along curriculum. Teachers were asked to choose up to ten children in their class whom they believed to be the most aggressive or disruptive. Out of the 26 st udents returning parental consent forms, 15 were targeted students (3rd grade n = 5; 4th grade n = 10) identif ied by the classroom teachers.

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24 Program Description The Tools for Getting Along curriculum is a cognitive-behavioral problem-solving curriculum designed to reduce aggressive a nd disruptive behaviors by helping students manage anger and frustration and learn pro-so cial skills through the instruction of a sixstep problem-solving model. These steps included: 1. Know you are angry or frustrated. 2. Calm down and think. 3. Think about what may be causing the problem. 4. Think of all the possible solutions to the problem 5. Pick a solution to try. 6. Think about how things turned out. The Tools for Getting Along curriculum consisted of 15 formal lessons. Lesson one consisted of a general introduction of the problem-sol ving process. Lessons two through four addressed the rec ognition of problems (Step #1), an important step in the problem-solving process which involves recogniz ing the symptoms of anger in oneself as well as others, and learning how failing to regu late anger can create problems or make existing problems worse. The next two less ons addressed strategies designed to train students to "calm down and think" through th e engagement of students' cognition (Step #2). Problem definition, the generation of so lutions, strategy selec tion, and evaluation of outcome (Steps #3-6) constituted the nine remaining lessons in the program. All lessons began with a review of the si x problem-solving steps. Meth ods to teach and reinforce the use of the model included group discussi on about hypothetical problem situations commonly encountered in the school setting, di scussion about application of the model to the students' current personal pr oblems, role plays, hassle lo gs (worksheets), and frequent review of the problem-solving steps. Student s were encouraged to talk about their own

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25 positive and negative experiences involving a nger and anger control (Smith, Miller, & Daunic, 2002). Teacher Training One teacher in the current study ha d taught the Tools for Getting Along curriculum during the prior school year and had received a one hour group training on the purpose, content, and delivery methods of the curriculu m at that time. Because some changes and revisions had been made to the curriculum since that time, this teacher received a brief update and instructions related to those changes. The second teacher received a one hour individual training to familiarize her with the purpose, content, and delivery methods of the curriculum and to allow her to ask questions and make comments rela ted to curriculum instruction. Both teachers received teacher instructi on manuals with specific outlines for each lesson (including teacher scri pts and suggested discussion topics), all student handout materials, and overhead transparencies for each lesson. Teachers also received feedback forms to be completed after the instruction of each lesson to help inform decision making regarding future revisions of the curriculum. Instruments The Problem-solving Questionnaire (PSQ ; see Appendix C) was developed to assess how well students learne d curriculum content (Daunic, 2002). The scale consisted of 14 multiple-choice items taken directly from the Tools for Getting Along curriculum. For some items, only one choice was appropr iate (e.g., "How should you get ideas to solve a problem?"). Other items required stude nts to "check all that apply" (e.g., "Check all the ways your body may feel when you are angry."). Two additional items required students to supply information ("What are th e three levels of anger from lowest to

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26 highest?" and "List the steps you would take to solve a prob lem."). The total number of points possible on the PSQ was 29. In addi tion to revising problematic items, the knowledge scale development included conduc ting a pilot using preand post-test administration with 35 students who were taugh t the curriculum. The post-test was used to conduct item analyses and determine alpha reliabilities. Cronbach's alpha for the total scale was estimated at .71 (Daunic, 2002). Procedure During the spring 2002 semester, both teach ers implemented the 15-lesson Tools for Getting Along curriculum. The curriculum was taught in 30-40 minute sessions, two to three times per week over a six to seven week period. The PSQ pre-test was administered by the classroom teachers to a ll students at least one day prior to the implementation of the curriculum and the PSQ post-test was administered by the classroom teachers not more than one week after the entire curriculum had been completed.

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27 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of grade level and target status (designated by teacher no mination) on the acquisition of knowledge regarding the basic problem-solving components of a cognitive-behavioral curriculum designed to reduce aggressive and disruptive behaviors. Specific research questions included: 1. When the curriculum is implemented in mixed third and fourth grade classrooms, are there significant differences in know ledge acquisition betwee n third and fourth grade students? 2. When the curriculum is implemented unive rsally in general education classrooms, are there significant differences in k nowledge acquisition between target and nontarget students? Descriptive Statistics The mean scores and standard deviations were computed for each grade level. The mean scores were as follows: Grade three pr e-test = 17.09, grade three post-test = 24.73; grade four pre-test = 16.40, grade four posttest = 21.80. Table 4-1 shows these results. Table 4-1. Means and sta ndard deviations by grade Variable N Mean SD Pre 11 17.09 4.50 Grade 3 Post 11 24.73 4.56 Pre 15 16.40 3.33 Grade 4 Post 15 21.80 5.36 Mean scores also were computed for target and nontarget status. The mean scores were as follows: Target stat us pre-test = 15.60, target stat us post test = 21.73; nontarget status pre-test = 18.18, nontar get post-test = 24. 82. Table 4-2 shows these results.

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28 Table 4-2. Means and standard devia tions by target / nontarget status Variable N Mean Std. Dev pre 15 15.60 3.27 Target Status: post 15 21.73 4.82 pre 11 18.18 4.12 Nontarget Status: post 11 24.82 5.29 Analysis of Variance A general linear model (GLM) was used to analyze the SPQ data. Using ANCOVA, no significant difference was found by grade level (F = 1.90, df = 1, 23, p = .1811) or by target/nontarget stat us (F = .68, df = 1, 23, p = .4177).

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29 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION The purpose of this study was to consider th e effects of grade level and target status on the acquisition of knowledge of problem-s olving strategies in a universal cognitivebehavioral intervention. Consis tent with the earlier finding s of Smith et al. (2002) in their evaluation of the Tools for Getting Along curriculum, all participants in the present study made gains in knowledge of problem-sol ving techniques from preto post-test measures. These results also are consistent w ith evaluations of other social skills training programs, such as the PATHS and Second Step programs, in that students were more knowledgeable of the basic terminology of the problem-solving process and the steps involved in generating positive solutions to everyday problem situat ions after receiving the intervention (Greenberg, et al., 1988; Greenberg & Ku sche, 1996; Grossman, et al., 1997; McMahon, 2000; Taub, 2002). Additionally, no significant differences were found between third and fourth grade students who participated in the intervention program; nor were significant differences found between stude nts that teachers identified as exhibiting or being at risk for aggressive and/or disruptive behaviors compar ed to typical students. With regard to results by grade level, the findings of this study indicate that knowledge of problem-solving strategies can be acquired by children at least as young as third grade. These findings, along with the results of previous st udies using the PATHS and Second Step programs as early as pre-schoo l, lend support to the idea that social skills programs should be implemented as early as possible with the youngest students to ensure that all children learn to identify and use basic problem-solving strategies. This

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30 finding is important for several reasons. First, aggressive be haviors are known to develop early and remain stable over tim e (Laub & Lauritsen, 1998) and students identified as violent or aggre ssive in early elementary school are at selected risk for a host of serious behavioral problems incl uding delinquency and school failure (Laub & Lauritsen, 1998; Lochman, et al., 1997; Morrison et al., 1994). Therefore, intervention as early as the pre-school level may be effec tive in ensuring that students' aggressive responses are remediated before they can become stable. Second, upon entering school systems, very young children may experience a skill deficit in terms of their ability to identify their emotions and apply effective problem-solving strategies (Gresham et al., 2001). Therefore, early implementation in th e basics of problem-solving strategies can serve as a foundation for advanced social skills training in the later grades when a lack of problem-solving ability might be better charac terized as a production problem (Gresham et al., 2001). Most importantly, research has consiste ntly shown the link between pro-social behavior and academic achievement (Lambe rt & Nicholl, 1977; Green et al., 1980; Feshbach & Feshbach, 1987; Wentzel, 1993; DiPerna & Elliott, 1999; Malecki & Elliott, 2002). Indeed, some researchers believe that pos itive pro-social functioning with peers is not only desirable, but necessary in the development of new ideas and skills (Slavin, 1995) and that pro-social behaviors can act ually "enable academic achievement" through the creation of a social cont ext for learning goals (Wentzel, 1993). Therefore, training young children in problem-solving technique s may reduce aggressive and disruptive behavior, thus allowing for improved acad emic performance for all students.

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31 With regard to results by ta rget status, the findings of th is study indicate that when the intervention is universally implemented, students are able to acquire knowledge of problem-solving strategies regardless of whethe r they are targeted as exhibiting or being at risk for the development of aggressive a nd/or disruptive behaviors. This finding may indicate that there is little justification for th e policies of many school s today to deliver interventions with identifi ed students only on a pull-out basis. Although the pull-out model may be effective, part icularly with children w ho exhibit extreme behavior problems, it can best be characterized as sec ondary or tertiary inte rvention, which is not believed to be the most effective form of prevention (Sameroff & Friese, 1990; Simeonsson, 1996). Primary prevention prog rams aimed at reducing aggressive and disruptive behaviors involve the promotion of healthy development, impact the largest number of children and may reduce the need for diagnostic, curative or corrective/remedial services in the future (Simeonson, 1994). The findings of this study lend support to the idea that social skills training programs can be effective with identified aggressive students when they ar e delivered in a genera l education setting and that social skills training programs in sc hools can serve as an excellent vehicle for primary prevention efforts. Further, IDEA dema nds that students be educated in the least restrictive environment possible, regardless of the curriculum content, and social skills training as primary prevention can help meet this mandate while enabling children to reach the critically important goal of the development of socially successful relationships (Elliott et al., 1995). Limitations of the Study Although this research was part of a larger study, only two classrooms were selected for this study because they include d both third and fourth grade students.

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32 Therefore, one limitation to the current study wa s the relatively small sample size. As the number of participants in any given study incr eases, the ability of the statistical tests performed to detect a difference increases. In the present study, because the sample size was small, the lack of effects by grade level and target status may not generalize to the population at large. Second, although the use of a knowledge test assures an accurate measure of content knowledge, a measure of practical ap plication of that knowledge was lacking in this research. Even though st udents learned the basic content of the curriculum and were able to identify useful problem-solving strate gies, they may still lack the ability to apply those strategies in their everyday lives. Unfortunately, the app lication component in prevention research is frequently missing due to the lack of availability of direct measurement instruments designed for this pu rpose and/or time constraints for direct behavioral observations. Finally, demographic information for indivi dual participants was not available, which allowed for no comparison across gender, race, or culture. Because no comparison was made across those factors, effects caused by those factor s are still unknown. However, it should be noted that data collecti on for this project took place in a small rural school district in the southeastern United States, which included a large number of students of relatively low socio-economic status. Therefore, these findings may generalize when implemented w ith a similar population. Directions for Future Research Consistent with previous research, the re sults of the present study demonstrate that even very young students are able to acqui re knowledge of basic problem-solving vocabulary and strategies. Ther efore, future research in so cial skills training programs

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33 should focus not only on students in 4th through 12th grades, but on interventions with the very youngest students in kindergarten through third grades as well. Further, although no differences were obs erved between third and fourth grade students receiving the Tools for Getting Along curriculum, implementation of the curriculum in pre-school through second gr ade has not yet been attempted. To effectively serve students earlier than grade three, more research may be necessary to adapt and customize the Tools for Getting Al ong curriculum, as well as other existing programs, to address the needs of students at earlier levels of development. This may involve a more in depth analysis of when so cial difficulties are the result of a skill deficit rather than a pperformance problem (Gresh am et al., 2001). Social skills training programs should contain instructional materi als designed to address each of these concerns at the appropriate stage of deve lopment (e.g. skills tr aining for young children, production training for older children and a dolescents). It may also involve the development of effective instruments for the measurement of the real-life application of the problem-solving strategies c ontained in the curriculum. Since no differences were found by grade level or by target status, it is hoped that this research may encourage schools to im plement social skills training programs on a universal basis in the earliest grades. Not only will early, universal implementation assist in the remediation of existing social skills de ficits and improved social outcomes for all children (Sameroff & Friese, 1990; Simeon sson, 1996), it also may increase the likelihood that students will engage in pro-soci al behaviors in the future and help prepare them for more advanced traini ng in social competence in upper elementary and secondary education settings (Gresham et al., 2001).

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34 Finally, research indicates a strong link betw een early aggressive behavior and later maladaptive outcomes including juvenile delinquency and school dropout (Laub & Lauritsen, 1998; Lochman, et al., 1997; Morrison et al., 1994). Ther efore, the increased use of social skills training programs will serve our students well not only while they are in school, but for the remainder of their lives.

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35 APPENDIX A PARENT CONSENT FORM

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36 APPENDIX B STUDENT NOMINATION FORM

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APPENDIX C PROBLEM SOLVING QUESTIONNAIRE

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43 LIST OF REFERENCES Albee, G. W., & Ryan-Finn, K. D. (1993). An overview of primary prevention. Journal of Counseling and Development, 72 115-123. American Federation of Teachers (1994). Pr omoting alternative thinking strategies (PATHS) Retrieved December 2002 from http://www.aft.org/edissues. Arnold, M. E. & Hughes, J. N. (1999). Fi rst do no harm: Adverse effects of grouping deviant youth for skills training. Journal of School Psychology, 37, 1 99-115. Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Batsche, G.M. (2000). Bullying. In A.S. Cant er, & S.W. Carroll (Eds.), Crisis Prevention and Response: A Collecti on of NASP Resources, 23-33. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists. Beck, A. T. (1970). Cognitive therapy: Nature and relation to behavior therapy. Behavior Therapy, 1, 184-200. Bjorkland, D. F. (2000). Children's Thinking: Developmental Func tion and Individual Differences, 3rd Edition Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Braden, J. P., & Hightower, A. D. (1998) Prevention. In R. J. Morris & T. R. Kratochwill (Eds.), The Pr actice of Child Therapy, 3rd Edition, 510-539. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Byrnes, J. (2000). 2000 Report card: Report #1 Retrieved January 3, 2003 from http://www.aggressionmanagement.com/Schools/Index.htm. Chamberlin, R. W. (1996). Primary preventi on: The missing piece in child development legislation. In C. L. Thompson & L. B. Rudolph (Eds.), Counseling Children 4th Edition, 33-53. Boston, MA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. Cicchetti, D., Toth, S. & Bush, M. ( 1988). Developmental psychopathology and incompetence in childhood: Suggestions for intervention. In B. Lahey & A. Kazden (Eds.), Advances in Clinical Child Psychology New York: Plenum. Committee for Children. (2002). Second step vi olence prevention curriculum: A social and emotional learning program Retrieved November 2002 from http://www.cfchildren.org.

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44 Crick, N. R., & Dodge, K. A. (1994). A revi ew and reformulation of social-information processing mechanisms in children's so cial adjustment. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 74-101. Dadds, M. R. (2001). Fads, politics, and re search: Keeping prevention on the mental health agenda. Prevention and Treatment, 4 216-222. Danner, F. W., & Day, M. C. (1977). Eliciti ng formal operations. Child Development, 48 1600-1606. Daunic, A. P. (2002). Development of th e Problem-solving Questionnaire. Unpublished manuscript Daunic, A. P., Smith, S. W., Miller, M. D., Cresap, M., & Shelide, L. (2001, October). Enhancing adaptive behavior through a problem-solving approach to anger management. Presented at the annual conferen ce of the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders, Atlanta, GA. Denham, S., & Burton, R. (1996). A socio-em otional intervention program for at-risk four-year-olds. Journal of School Psychology, 34 225-245. DiPerna, J.C., & Elliott, S.N. (1999). The development and validation of the academic competence evaluation scales. Journa l of Psychoeducational Assessment, 17, 207225. Dodge, K. A. (1986). A social information pr ocessing model of social competence in children. In M. Perlmutter (Ed.), Minne sota symposium on Child Psychology, 18, 77-125. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., McClaskey, C. L., & Brown, M. M. (1986). Social competence in children. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 213, 51 n.2. Elliott, S. N., Racine, C. N., & Bruce, R. T. (1995). Best practice s in preschool social skills training. Best Practic es in School Psychology III Washington, DC: National Association of School Psychologists. Ellis, A. (1962). Reason and Emotion in Psychotherapy. New York, NY: Lyle Stuart. Feshbach, N.D. (1989). Empathy training and pr osocial behavior: In J. Groebel & R.A. Hinde (Eds.), Aggression and War: Their Biological and Social Bases Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Feshbach, N.D., & Feshbach, S. (1987). Affective processes and academic achievement. Child Development, 58 1335-1347. Goldstein, A. P. (1999). Aggr ession reduction strategies: E ffective and ineffective. School Psychology Quarterly, 14, 1 40-58.

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45 Green, K. D., Forehand, R., Beck, S.J., & Vosk, B. (1980). An assessment of the relationhips among measures of children's social competence and children's academic achievement. Child Development 51, 1149-1156. Greenberg, M. T., DeKlyen, M. & Speltz, M. L. (1989) The relationship of insecure attachment to externalizing behavior pr oblems in the preschool years. Paper presented at the Society for Re search in Child Development Kansas City. Greenberg, M. T., Kusch, C., & Mihalic, S. F. (1988). Blueprints for violence prevention, Book Ten: Promoting Alterna tive Thinking Strategies (PATHS ). Boulder, CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. Greenberg, M. T., & Kusche, C. A. (1996). The PATHS project: Preventive intervention for children. Final Report to the Na tional Institute of Mental Health Grant No. R01MH42131. Gresham, F. M. (1990). Best pr actices in social skills traini ng. Best Practices in School Psychology II Washington, DC: National Association of School Psychologists. Gresham, F. M., & Elliott, S. N. (1984). Assessment and classification of children's social skills: A review of methods and issues. School Psychology Review, 13 292-301. Gresham, F. M., Sugai, G., & Horner, R. H. (2001). Interpreting outcome s of social skills training for students with high incidence disabilities. Exceptional Children, 67, 3, 331-344. Grossman, D. C., Neckerman, H. J., Koepsell, T. D., Liu, P. Y., Asher, K. N., Beland, K., Frey, Karin, & Rivara, F. P. (1997). Effectiveness of a violence prevention curriculum among children in elementary sc hool. Journal of th e American Medical Association, 277, 20, 1605-1611. Kendall, P. C. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral th erapies wit youth: Guiding theory, current status, and emerging developments. Journa l of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61 235-247. Kendall, P.C., Ronan, K. R., & Epps, J. ( 1991). Aggression on ch ildren/adolescents: Cognitive-behavioral treatment perspectives. In D. J. Pepler & K. H. Rubin (Eds.), The Development and Treatment of Childhood Aggression, 341-360. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Lambert, N.M., & Nicholl, R.C. (1977). Co mpetence model of nonintellectual behavior and its relationship to early reading achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 69 481-490.

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46 Laub, J. H., & Lauritsen, J. L. (1998). Th e interdependence of school violence with neighborhood and family conditions. In D.S. Elliott, B. Hamburg, & K.R. Williams (Eds.), Violence in American Schools: A New Perspective (127-155). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Lochman, J. E., Dunn, S. E., & Klimes-D ougan, B. (1993). An intervention and consultation model from a social cognitive perspective: A description of the anger coping program. School Psychology Review, 22, 3 458-471. Lochman, J.E., Dunn, S.E., & Wagner, E.E. (199 7). Anger. In G. Bear, K. Minke, & A. Thomas (Eds.), Children's Needs II: De velopment, Problems and Alternatives, (149-160). Bethesda, MD: National Asso ciation of School Psychologists. Luria, A. R. (1961). The Role of Speech in the Regulation of Normal and Abnormal Behaviors. New York, NY: Liveright. Malecki, C. K., & Elliott, S. N. (2002). Children's social behaviors as predictors of academic achievement: A longitudinal an alysis. School Psychology Quarterly, 17, 1 1-23. Manning, B. H. (1988). Application of cignitiv e behavior modification: First and third graders' self management of classroom be haviors. American Educational Research Journal, 25, 2 193-212. Mcmahon, S. D., Washburn, J., Felix, E. D., Ya kim, J. & Childrey, G. (2000). Violence prevention: Program effects on urban pres chool and kindergarte n children. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 9 271-281. Meichenbaum, D. H. (1977). Cognitive-behav ior Modification: An integrative approach New York, NY: Plenum Press. Meichenbaum, D. H., & Goodman, J. (1971) Training impulsive children to talk o themselves: A means o developing self-c ontrol. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 77, 115-126. Merrell, K. W. (2002). Social-emotional inte rvention in schools: Current status, progress, and promise. School Psychology Review, 31, 2 143-147. Morrison, G., M., Furlong, M. J., & Morrison, R. L. (1994). School violence to school safety: Reframing the issue for school psychologists. School Psychology Review, 23, 2 236-256. Novaco, R. W. (1975). Anger control: Th e Development and Evaluation of an Experimental Treatment Lexington, MA: D.C. Health Possell, L. E., & Abrams, K. (1993). Incorpor ating a brief social skills unit into the regular classroom setting. School Psychology International, 14 149-158.

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47 Reiss, A. J., & Roth, J. A. (Eds.). (1 993). Understanding a nd preventing violence Washington, D.C: National Academy Press. Samaroff, A. J., & Friese, B. H. (1990). Tran sactional regulation a nd early intervention. In S. J. Meisels & J. P. Shankoff (Eds.), Handbook of Early Childhood Intervention, 119-149 New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Shapiro, J. P. (2000). The peacemakers program: Effective violence prevention for early adolescent youth. In Canter, & S.W. Carroll (Eds.), Crisis Prevention and Response: A Collection of NASP Resources 45-48. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists. Shure, M. B. & Spivack, G. (1982) Interpersonal problem-solving in young children: A cognitive approach to intervention. Am erican Journal of Community Psychology, 10 341-356. Simeonsson, R. J. (1996). Promoting childre n's health, education, and well-being. In C. L. Thompson & L. B. Rudolph (Eds.), Counseling Children 4th Edition. 3-31. Boston, MA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. Simeonsson, R. J. (1994). Risk, Resilience & Prevention: Promoting the Well-being of All Children Baltimore, MD: P. H. Brookes. Skinner, B. F. (1953). Science and Huma n Behavior. Toronto, Ontario: Macmillan. Slater, A. M., & Kingston, D. J. (1981). Co mpetence and performance variables in the assessment of formal operational skills. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 51, 163-169. Slavin, R. E. (1995). Cooperative Learning (2nd Ed.) Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Smith, S. W., Miller, M. D., & Daunic, A. P. (2002). Tools for getting along: Teaching students to problem solve. University of Florida, Department of Special Education. Technical Report #9. Smith, S. W., Miller, M. D., & Daunic, A. P. (2002). Aggression intervention study: Executive summary. University of Florid a, Department of Special Education. Unpublished manuscript Taub, J. (2002). Evaluation of the second st ep violence prevention program at a rural elementary school. School Psychology Review, 31, 2, 186-200. U.S. Department of Education (1999). Annual report on school safety, 1999. Washington, DC: Author. Available: http://www.ed.gov Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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48 Vygotsky, L. (1962). Thought and Language. New York, NY: Wiley Watson, J. B. (1924). Behaviorism New York, NY: W. W. Norton. Weissberg, R. P. (1985). Desi gning effective social problem -solving programs for the classroom. In B. H. Schneider, K. H. Rubin & J. E. Ledingham (Eds.), Children's Peer Relations: Issues in Assessment and Invervention 225-241. New York: Springer-Verlag. Wentzel, K. R. (1993). Does being good make the grade? Social be havior and academic competence in middle school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 357-364.

PAGE 57

49 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas a nd shortly thereafter moved to Michigan where I was raised. I attended both elem entary and high school at Hanover-Horton Public Schools in Horton, Michigan. Follo wing High School I worked for four years and spent the next 18 years doing vol unteer work and raising my fa mily. I returned to school in 1995 and earned my Bachelor of Science de gree in psychology at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 2000. In the summer of 2000, I moved to Gainesville, Florida to pursue my Master of Arts in Education (M.A .E.) and Specialist in Education (Ed.S.) degrees. After graduation I intend to serve as a school psychologist in a public school district in Florida.


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EFFECTS OF GRADE LEVEL AND TARGET STATUS ON THE ACQUISITION OF
KNOWLEDGE OF PROBLEM-SOLVING STRATEGIES IN A UNIVERSAL
COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION
















By

LEAH SHELIDE


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS IN EDUCATION

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2003

































Copyright 2003

by

Leah Shelide















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank Dr. Nancy Waldron for her guidance and support throughout

the completion of this project and throughout my graduate studies. I also extend sincere

thanks to Dr. David Miller for granting me the opportunity to work with him and for his

assistance on this project. Also, I would like to thank Dr. Ann Daunic for her flexibility,

her tolerance, and her frequent reminders that I was making a valuable contribution.

I am grateful to all of the teachers and support personnel in the Bradford County

Public School District who supported and assisted me with this project.

I also would like to thank my mother, Judy Moruzzi, for her wisdom, her

friendship, and her quiet insistence that success was the only option. I also offer my

sincere appreciation to Richard Moruzzi for his support and encouragement throughout

my adult life.

I would especially like to thank the three people I admire the most, my children,

Erin, Emily Ann and Abby. They continue to amaze and inspire me. I am grateful to

them for teaching me so much about life, for their unwavering love and belief in me

throughout the years, and for the reflection I see in their eyes.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ......... .................................... ...............................................iii

LIST OF TABLES .................. ............ .......................... ..... vi

CHAPTER

1 IN T R O D U C T IO N ............ ................................................ ... ........ ................ ... 1

2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE ........................... ....... ................................... 5

School Violence .............................................. ................................ 6
Aggressive Behavior and Achievem ent.......................... .............. .... ............. 7
P rev en tio n ...................................................... 9
R eview of Social Skills Program s............................................ ......................... 11
Theoretical Foundations to Social Skills Programs......................... .............. 17
Tools for G getting A long ........................................................... ... .............. 20
Problem Statem ent .................. ........... ............ ........ .. .......... ..........21

3 METHOD..................................... ..... .............. 23

P articip an ts ...............................23..............................
Program Description ............ .............. .............. ....... ........... 24
Teacher Training ........... ................................ ......... ..... ......... .. 25
Instrum ents .................. ............... ............................................ 25
Procedure ................................. ............................................. 26

4 R E S U L T S ............................................................................. 2 7

D escriptiv e Statistics............................................................ ............. .... .......... 2 7
Analysis of Variance .......... ............. ..... ........ ............................ 28

5 DISCUSSION .................................. ................................ ........ 29

Lim stations of the Study .................. ........... ...................... .... ... ...... 31
D directions for Future R research ......... ............................................... .............. 32










APPENDIX

A PA R EN T CON SEN T FO RM ................ ................................................................. 35

B STUDENT NOMINATION FORM ............................ 36

C PROBLEM SOLVING QUESTIONNAIRE .............................. 37

L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S .................................................................................................. 43

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E TC H .................................................................................... 49














































v
















LIST OF TABLES

Table pge

4-1 Means and standard deviations by grade........... ............. ................... 27

4-2 Means and standard deviations by target/nontarget status .................................... 28















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Education

EFFECTS OF GRADE LEVEL AND TARGET STATUS ON THE ACQUISITION OF
KNOWLEDGE OF PROBLEM-SOLVING STRATEGIES IN A UNIVERSAL
COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION

By

Leah Shelide

August 2003

Chair: Nancy Waldron
Major Department: Educational Psychology

The current study investigated the effects of grade level and target status on the

acquisition of knowledge of problem-solving strategies in a universal cognitive-

behavioral intervention. Twenty-six students in grades three and four received the 15-

lesson social skills curriculum Tools for Getting Along. Of the 26 students participating

in the study, 15 were targeted by their teachers as exhibiting or being at risk for the

development of aggressive and/or disruptive behavior.

The Problem-solving Questionnaire (PSQ), consisting of multiple-choice items

taken directly from the curriculum, was used to assess how well students learned

curriculum content. All students completed the PSQ prior to the implementation of the

curriculum and within one week after the entire curriculum had been completed.

Consistent with previous research, all participants made gains in knowledge of

problem-solving strategies from pre- to post-test measures. Using ANCOVA, no

significant difference was found by grade level or by target/nontarget status.









Results of this study support the use of social skills training programs as primary

prevention in the early grades. The escalation of school violence, the link between

aggressive behavior and school achievement, and implications for future research are

discussed.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

In recent years, teachers have reported a dramatic increase in a variety of

aggressive and disruptive behaviors among students at the elementary school level.

Problems in peer and other interpersonal relationships in elementary school have been

shown to predict long-term maladjustment, including juvenile delinquency, school drop

out, and criminal behavior in adulthood (Lochman, Dunn & Klimes-Dougan, 1993).

Instructing students in problem-solving and pro-social skills in an attempt to reduce these

problematic behaviors may play a significant role in assisting them to become accepted

and respected members of society, both in school and in the community at large.

The Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1995 (IDEA) clearly established the goal

of educating children with disabilities, including children with behavioral disorders, in

the general education classroom. As such, general-education teachers are requesting

programs through which they can address and attempt to remediate disruptive and

aggressive behaviors in all students. The findings of a survey using the Social Skills

Rating System highlights the importance teachers place on a student's ability to regulate

anger and exhibit appropriate social skills in the classroom (Gresham & Elliot, 1984). In

this survey, a nationally representative sample of general education teachers rated the

item "controls temper in conflict situations" as one of the top ten most important social

skills for classroom success. Further, increasing numbers of general education teachers

are requesting the assistance of school psychologists to provide guided instruction in

social problem-solving and the development of social skills (Possell & Abrams, 1993).









Many would agree with Elliott, Racine, & Bruces' (1995) assertion that one of the

critically important goals of childhood is the development of socially successful

relationships. Elliott et al. (1995) encourage school psychologists to address the

treatment of social skills in their daily practices. In fact, it has been suggested (Goldstein,

1999) that school psychologists should not only be involved, but should be major

decision makers in terms of selection and implementation of social skills programs.

Whether the role of the school psychologist is direct provision of problem-solving

curricula in the classroom or the training of teachers and other support personnel in the

implementation of such programs, the opportunity for supportive and cooperative

relationships between teachers and school psychologists increases with the inclusion of

social skills programs.

Primary prevention programs aimed at reducing aggressive and disruptive

behaviors promote healthy development, impact the largest number of children, and may

reduce the need for diagnostic, curative or corrective/remedial services in the future

(Simeonsson, 1994). Further, because universal programs (directed toward all children in

the school population/classroom) also target selected students (children who are at some

risk for developing the problem), the institution of universal cognitive-behavioral

problem-solving curricula is one increasingly popular method of facilitating the

development of better problem-solving strategies in the school setting. Positive results

from successful interventions directed toward aggressive and disruptive behaviors can

improve current behavior, thereby increasing the rate of on-task behavior for the entire

class; and also can improve future adjustment for those children identified as

demonstrating the most problematic aggressive behaviors (Lochman et al. 1993).









Regardless of the methods used in teaching problem-solving strategies, virtually all

programs in social-skills training (Possell & Abrams, 1993) incorporate the following

problem-solving steps:

* Identify the problem
* Generate alternative solutions
* Anticipate the consequences of those solutions

In recent years several primary and secondary prevention programs designed to

reduce aggressive and disruptive behaviors have been developed and implemented in

school settings. For example, The Art of Self Control and Think First: Anger and

Aggression Management for Secondary-Level Students are secondary prevention

programs that consist of 10 to 12 anger-management training sessions; are based on the

cognitive-behavioral problem-solving model (Lochman, Dunn & Wagner, 1997); and are

frequently implemented only with the most problematic students on a pull-out basis.

Although each program has its own individual and unique components, both programs

include training in the basic problem-solving steps. However, these and many other such

programs were designed primarily for use with middle and high-school students.

Although two programs, Second Step: A Violence Prevention Curriculum and

Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) include curricula for students as

young as pre-school age, in general, programs for children younger than 4th grade are

underrepresented (Lochman et al., 1997). This underrepresentation may be due to long-

held beliefs about the inability of younger children to use formal operational reasoning,

despite research indicating that children as young as seven years of age have been shown

to utilize such reasoning under appropriate testing conditions (Danner & Day, 1977;

Slater & Kingston, 1981). In fact, many researchers now believe that the age at which









children can be trained to solve formal operational problems has been greatly

overestimated (Bjorkland, 2000).

Currently, most social-skills intervention programs in schools are designed for

initial implementation in fourth through sixth grades. Many such programs are

implemented on a pull-out basis with only the most aggressive or disruptive students.

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of grade level and target status on

the acquisition of knowledge of the basic problem-solving components of a cognitive-

behavioral curriculum designed to reduce aggressive and disruptive behaviors. This

research will extend our understanding of the ability of younger students and targeted

aggressive students to benefit from cognitive-behavioral social skills interventions.

Specific research questions were

* When a cognitive-behavioral intervention is implemented in mixed third and fourth
grade classrooms, are there significant differences in the acquisition of knowledge
of problem-solving strategies between third and fourth grade students?

* When a cognitive-behavioral intervention is implemented universally in general
education classrooms, are there significant differences in the acquisition of
knowledge of problem-solving strategies between target and nontarget students?














CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF LITERATURE

The majority of social skills intervention programs in schools are designated for

initial implementation in fourth through sixth grades. Consequently, social skills training

programs intended for students in kindergarten through third grades are drastically

underrepresented (Lochman et al., 1997; Taub, 2002). This delay in providing

intervention programs is of significant concern given that aggressive and disruptive

behaviors among students at the elementary level predict long-term maladjustment

(Lochman et al., 1993). Insuring that the youngest students acquire knowledge of

problem-solving strategies, if only the most rudimentary vocabulary in problem-solving

and pro-social skills, can be a positive first step toward preparing them for advanced

training in the later grades and thus improving long-term outcomes for all children.

Further, many social-skills training programs are typically implemented on a pull-

out basis targeting the most aggressive or disruptive students. However, not only has

Congress clearly established the goal of educating all children in the least restrictive

environment (IDEA-1997), but at least one study reveals that the practice of grouping

deviant and aggressive youth for skills training can actually produce harmful effects

(Arnold & Hughes, 1999). Because universal programs (directed at all children in the

school population/classroom) also target selected students (children who are at some risk

for developing the problem), the institution of universal cognitive-behavioral problem-

solving curricula is one increasingly popular method through which the needs of at-risk

students can be met, while simultaneously fulfilling the basic tenets of IDEA.









This chapter begins with a discussion of the escalation of school violence and

highlights the need for student training in problem-solving in our schools. This is

followed by a description of the link between aggressive behavior and achievement and a

description of primary prevention and it's role in reducing aggressive and disruptive

behaviors. Next, a review of current social skills training programs, their theoretical

underpinnings, and research findings are included along with a review of the intervention

used in the current study, Tools for Getting Along.

School Violence

Although slight decreases in the incidence of school violence have been observed

over the past ten years (U.S. Department of Education, 1999), dramatic increases of

youth violence in general over the previous thirty years bring concerns about safe schools

and violence prevention programs to the forefront (Reiss & Roth, 1993).

Traditionally, school violence has been defined by activities involving homicide,

assault, theft, vandalism, and other such crimes. Recently, however, experts believe that

it may be more appropriate to define school violence more broadly to include verbal as

well as physical aggression, bullying, and other acts that may lead students to feel

intimidated or fearful of their fellow students (Shapiro, 2000; Batsche, 2000). Support

for this belief comes in many forms, not the least of which includes reviews of statistics

and national figures citing startling facts and figures regarding the prevalence of violence

in schools today. For example, one recent survey indicates that more than one in three

students (39% of middle schoolers and 36% of high schoolers) say they don't feel safe at

school (Byrnes, 2000). This is not surprising considering that the same survey indicated

43% of high school and 37% of middle school boys believe it is "OK" to hit or threaten a

person who makes them angry and that 75% of all boys and 60% of all girls in the survey









reported having hit someone in the past 12 months because they were angry.

Preoccupation with threats of violence and safety concerns may be taking a severe toll on

the ability of students to focus on the goals of schooling and learning.

Research indicates that aggression in school is most often directed at peers and that

most aggressive behaviors are displayed by boys toward other boys, although incidents of

female aggression are certainly not negligible (Laub & Lauritsen, 1998).

Aggression in schools is important not only because of the immediate harm and

disruption it causes, but also because of the longer-term consequences (both in and out of

school) that can result from such aggression. Indeed, students who are identified as

violent or aggressive in the early elementary school years are at selected risk for a host of

serious behavioral difficulties including anti-social acts, delinquency, violent offenses in

the community, school failure, school drop-out and incarceration (Laub & Lauritsen,

1998; Lochman, et al., 1997; Morrison, Furlong, & Morrison, 1994). Because juvenile

aggression tends to be stable over time, early interventions designed to address both the

individual characterteristics of such aggressive children and the social contingencies that

affect their aggressive responses may be most effective in reducing these problematic

outcomes if they can be implemented before aggression becomes stable (Laub &

Lauritsen, 1998).

Aggressive Behavior and Achievement

Although creating peaceful and safe school environments through the reduction or

elimination of aggressive behaviors in school children may be a worthy endeavor in it's

own right, the link between violent and aggressive behaviors and achievement may be an

even greater incentive to actively address this growing problem. Some may fear that time

spent addressing pro-social behavioral issues in the classroom may reduce time available









for academic tasks, but research over the past 25 years consistently indicates that there is

an increasingly strong relationship between positive social behavior and academic

achievement (Lambert & Nicholl, 1977; Green, Forehand, Beck, & Vosk, 1980;

Feshbach & Feshbach, 1987; Wentzel, 1993; DiPerna & Elliott, 1999; Malecki & Elliott,

2002).

Malecki & Elliott (2002) assert that the idea of a causal relationship between pro-

social behaviors and academic achievement in the classroom is not something new, but

rather an idea espoused by two noted theorists of human behavior and learning, Vygotsky

and Bandura. Both theorists emphasized the influence of social behavior on cognitive

functioning. Vygotsky (1978) argued that positive social functioning with peers is not

only desirable, but necessary in the development of new ideas and skills and that students

working cooperatively gain more skills than when working alone (Slavin, 1995).

Bandura suggested that learning is a social process and that the social context affects the

learning of new skills as the child interacts, listens, and observes the behavior of those

around him (Malecki & Elliott, 2002).

One of the strongest and most convincing indicators of a positive relationship

between pro-social behaviors and achievement in recent years was highlighted in

Wentzel's (1993) literature review of the relationship between pro-social behaviors and

achievement. Wentzel found that pro-social behaviors in school children (e.g. following

the rules and conforming to social expectations) can actually "enable academic

achievement" through the creation of a social context for learning goals. Malecki and

Elliott (2002) validate Wentzel's findings in their study of social behaviors as predictors

of academic achievement among third and fourth grade students. Results from this study









indicate that social skills positively predict current and future academic achievement and

that problem behaviors are negatively predictive of academic achievement. Therefore, if,

as many believe, the purpose of our schools is to promote learning and achievement, it

may be incumbent upon schools to concurrently teach pro-social skills along with

academics in an effort to foster that goal.

Prevention

The question then arises, "How should we go about promoting pro-social behaviors

in primary and secondary school children and toward which children should our efforts

be directed?"

Primary prevention is the term used to describe prevention efforts that are

implemented before the target condition manifests itself in order to prevent new cases of

the target condition. Because the prevention of maladaptive behaviors can also be

described as the promotion of well being, primary prevention can also be defined as the

promotion of health, development, and adaptation through the reduction of risk factors

and/or the promotion of protective factors (Albee & Ryan-Finn, 1993; Sameroff & Fiese,

1990; Simeonsson, 1996).

A second type of prevention effort popular in schools today is termed secondary

prevention. Secondary prevention efforts typically are directed at problem conditions

that have already been identified but have not yet caused disability. Secondary

prevention is favored by many because it is often possible to identify and target

populations exhibiting a particular problem, and prevention efforts can be more focused.

However, secondary prevention efforts frequently tend to look more like treatment than

prevention (Sameroff & Fiese, 1990). For example, teaching problem-solving strategies

to adolescents who have already displayed significant evidence of poor social skills









through aggressive, disruptive, or non-compliant behavior is more of a band-aid approach

than a prevention approach.

The third form of intervention common in schools today is called tertiary

prevention (Sameroff & Fiese, 1990). Tertiary efforts are directed toward problems that

have already manifested themselves and resulted in negative outcomes such as teen

pregnancy and school dropout. Tertiary prevention efforts can help minimize the

negative consequences of an existing problem and mitigate damage to the community at

large. Efforts are often aimed at rehabilitation and/or education, which can serve the

good of not only the individual, but of society as a whole.

The mistaken beliefs that there are single causes for disorders and that those causes

can be wiped out by treating individuals has led to a major focus on secondary and

tertiary prevention efforts. However, research appears to contradict these two beliefs and

suggests that because there can be multiple causes for disorders and because causes for

psychological and/or social problems are not as easily isolated and identified as the

causes of biological disease, it may be prudent to focus efforts on prevention rather than

treatment (Sameroff & Friese, 1990). Even if tertiary treatment were an affordable

option, which as demand increases is not likely to be the case, it is often not a good

solution because it does not prevent problems from occurring in the first place

(Simeonsson, 1996). Indeed, disease has never been eliminated or controlled through

treatment but has been controlled primarily through prevention: e.g. widespread

immunization (Braden & Hightower, 1998). If this alone is not justification for a more

intensive focus on prevention rather than treatment, consideration should be given to the

fact that the demand for mental health services today is high and constantly rising, which









may eventually make it impossible to meet. One solution, therefore, is to decrease the

need for mental health services through prevention programs. In many cases, primary

prevention would appear to be the most ideal form of prevention that can be offered to

children and youth in our schools. Because its primary focus is to reduce new cases of

the problem, it is the model that will address the largest number of children whether they

in fact "need" it or not. Using a public health example, smallpox has been eliminated

because all children were immunized whether or not they were at risk for exposure to the

disease.

Approaches to overcoming the barriers to primary prevention efforts and funding

are varied. Political activism can be an effective tool (Dadds, 2001) as can the

development of social marketing techniques (Chamberlin, 1996), which can be described

as learning to get the message out to the right people, in the right way, at the right time

about the positive effects of prevention programs. Education of communities regarding

their current short term outlooks and increasing the focus on the societal benefits of

prevention in terms of improved safety, reduced numbers of teenage pregnancies, lower

school drop-out rates, reduced rates of juvenile delinquency and less welfare dependency

as a mechanism to improve society as a whole may be needed to pave the way for future

prevention efforts.

Review of Social Skills Programs

In recent years, several primary and secondary prevention programs designed to

reduce aggressive and disruptive behaviors have been developed and implemented in

school settings. Whether students are experiencing acquisition deficits or performance

deficits in the use of pro-social behaviors, these programs offer one vehicle through

which these deficits can be remediated and social competence can be acquired or









enhanced (Gresham, Sugai, & Horner, 2001). Although modes of delivery vary slightly,

most programs include components that focus on social problem-solving, impulse

control, perspective taking, empathy, verbal mediation, and modeling (Lockman et al.,

1993; Lockman, et al., 1997; Merrell, 2002; Taub, 2002). To facilitate the acquisition

and application of these skills, techniques such as brainstorming, role-play, rehearsal, and

goal setting are used. Two such programs, Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies

(PATHS) and Second Step: A Violence Prevention Curriculum, both of which include

units designed for early elementary level students, are highlighted here.

PATHS is an intervention program designed to develop emotional competence in

children. The program was originally developed in the 1980s for use with deaf and

hearing-impaired children, but has since been implemented successfully in general

education classrooms. PATHS is a universal, classwide intervention implemented by

classroom teachers for students in kindergarten through fifth grade and includes a series

of 131 lessons (Greenberg, Kusche, & Mihalic, 1988; American Federation of Teachers,

1994). The four main focus areas of the curriculum are teaching students to stop and

calm down, providing linguistic cues to enhance understanding of self and others,

increasing problem-solving skills, and fostering self esteem and positive peer relations

(Lochman et al., 1993).

The PATHS program is organized into three main units (readiness and self control,

feelings and relationships, and interpersonal cognitive problem-solving) which address

five increasingly complex areas of conceptual concern: self control, emotional

understanding, positive self-esteem, relationships, and interpersonal problem-solving

skills.









The Second Step program, developed by The Committee for Children in Seattle,

Washington, is designed to prevent aggressive behaviors by increasing pro-social

behavior. The three essential competencies covered by the curriculum include empathy,

impulse control/problem-solving, and anger management. Through the class-wide

implementation of the intervention, students learn how to resist impulsive behavior,

resolve conflict, problem solve, and think through the consequences of their actions

(Committee for Children, 2002; Taub, 2002). The identification of feelings experienced

by self and others play a large part in the program.

The Second Step program includes units geared toward pre-school, elementary

level, and middle school students. Like the PATHS program, lessons are generally taught

two times per week in 30-minute sessions. Both the PATHS and Second Step programs

attempt to improve social skills through direct instruction of social problem-solving

strategies. Modes of instruction include modeling, rehearsal, role plays, and the use of

verbal mediation, all of which have proven effective in the teaching of perspective taking

skills (Feshbach, 1989), impulse control (Spivack & Shure, 1982), and anger

management (Novaca, 1975).

Because both the PATHS and Second Step programs provide units for several

levels of instruction, lessons are tailored to fit the developmental level of students. For

example, the first few lessons of PATHS (designed for use in the pre-school setting),

include stories about a young turtle facing interpersonal problems because he doesn't stop

and think (Greenberg, Kusche, & Mihalic, 1988; American Federation of Teachers,

1994). Similarly, program components of the elementary level of Second Step provide

live-action videos of same-age students expressing emotions in real-life situations









(Committee for Children, 2002). In both programs, the social skills targeted in any given

lesson and the types of problems addressed are built upon previous lessons learned.

Although the effectiveness of the PATHS and Second Step programs has not been

extensively researched, evaluations that are available offer encouraging results,

supporting the use of such programs at the elementary and pre-school levels.

Developers of the PATHS program report promising results at the elementary

level in several clinical trials comparing students who received the program to matched

controls (Greenberg, et al., 1988). Researchers demonstrated that the PATHS

intervention significantly increased students' conceptual knowledge and ability to

recognize and understand emotions and social problems, generate effective solutions, and

decreased the percentage of aggressive or violent solutions. One study examining the

effects on 200 general education students after one full year of the intervention indicated

that students receiving the PATHS curriculum made significant improvement on

measures of social problem-solving and emotional understanding compared to controls,

and were significantly less likely to use aggressive solutions and more likely to use pro-

social solutions in addressing conflicts and problems. At a one-year follow-up,

significant effects for emotional understanding and problem-solving were sustained

(Greenberg & Kusche, 1996).

Consistent with the results listed above, findings of an independent study

implementing an adapted version of the PATHS curriculum in a pre-school setting with

at-risk four-year-olds also has demonstrated positive results. In this study, PATHS

intervention children showed decreases in negative emotion, along with greater

involvement and more initiative in positive peer activity compared to controls. Further,









intervention children were described through teacher report as improving socially

(Denham & Burton, 1996).

Results of independent evaluations of the Second Step program indicate that second

and third grade students receiving the curriculum became less physically aggressive and

increased their positive social interactions while the aggressive behavior of students at

control schools actually rose. Researchers interpret this finding to reflect the likelihood

that the intervention may have served a role in the prevention of increased aggressive

behavior at the intervention school. However, parent and teacher reports of these same

behaviors, did not differ significantly from control schools (Grossman, et al., 1997).

Additionally, pre-school and kindergarten students demonstrated increased conceptual

knowledge of social skills and decreases in observed levels of verbal aggression and

disruptive behavior, even though teacher ratings did not differ across time (McMahon,

2000).

Researchers suggest that the reason why parent rating scales did not reflect less

aggressive behavior may have been due to the differences of behavior exhibited by

children in the home as opposed to the school setting. They suggest that results may have

been different if other family members had also received the intervention. When

considering why teacher ratings did not improve, researchers hypothesized that rating

scales lack sensitivity to behavioral change over a limited period of time. It was also

noted that although teachers typically observe students in the classroom setting, observers

from their studies were able to gather data in multiple settings (e.g. playground, cafeteria)

where social interaction is more likely to take place (Grossman et al., 1997). They

further theorize that the teachers may have expected more changes in behavior than they









observed or that the behavioral changes noted through direct observation may have been

temporary in nature. They note the limited amount of time researchers were able to

engage in direct observation of the children receiving the intervention and suggest that

increased observation times may have resulted in findings more consistent with teacher

rating scale observations (McMahon, 2000).

All aforementioned evaluations of the Second Step program were conducted when

the intervention was implemented with children from low-income, urban families.

However, Taub's (2002) evaluation of the program implemented in a rural setting,

suggests results just as promising. This study included students in third, fourth and fifth

grades at the intervention school, as well as students in the same grades at a comparison

school not receiving the intervention. Data collection took place at three points over the

course of the study: prior to the implementation of the intervention, at the conclusion of

the implementation of the intervention, and one year following the initial implementation

of the intervention. Measures included a teacher rating scale and direct behavioral

observations. Findings indicated significant improvements in teacher ratings of social

competence and antisocial behaviors as well as improvements in pro-social behaviors

(e.g. engaging appropriately with peers), as measured by independent behavioral

observations. Behavioral observations of anti-social behaviors, however, did not show

the same improvement. Researchers hypothesize that these findings may be reflective of

students' acquiring new skills while continuing to practice old behaviors and/or to the

limited post-intervention observation period (15 minutes per child).

Overall, evaluations of both the PATHS and Second Step programs implemented

with children in pre-school through fifth grade using measures of social problem-solving









ability as well as direct behavioral observation have consistently demonstrated significant

improvements related to conceptual knowledge of the problem-solving process and the

generation of effective solutions to everyday problems. Less consistent results have been

demonstrated when teacher perceptions were measured. These mixed findings could be

related to a host of factors including teacher bias, a lack of sensitivity on the part of the

instruments used, or any number of intervening variables. However, the most promising

findings are those related to the interventions' ability to sustain problem-solving skills

over time. The fact that students retain the information they learn through these

programs for at least one year following the intervention is good reason to move forward

with the universal implementation of such programs at the earliest grade levels.

Theoretical Foundations to Social Skills Programs

Contemporary intervention procedures designed to reduce aggressive and

disruptive behaviors typically focus on teaching the internal regulation of behavior

through training in problem-solving strategies (Goldstein, 1999; Gresham, 1990;

Lochman, et al., 1993; Shapiro, 2000; Taub, 2002). An obvious and concurrent goal of

such programs is to facilitate pro-social behavior. The advantage of such programs as

primary prevention in schools, is their ability to reach not only all children in general

education classrooms, but to also reach those children who, whether identified to be at

risk or not, may be at significant risk for anger control problems. The research cited

above clearly indicates that cognitive-behavioral interventions have, for the most part,

demonstrated their success in reaching these goals.

Cognitive-behavioral intervention (CBI) can be characterized as an intervention

technique based on the incorporation of the basic principles and effects of behavior

therapies (e.g. reinforcement, modeling, and feedback) with the mental components of









cognitive therapies (e.g. self-talk, think-alouds, and the examination of cognitions) for the

purpose of producing modifications in perceptions, thinking, feeling, and behavior

(Kendall, 1993; Kendall, Ronan, & Epps, 1991; Manning, 1988).

The roots of CBI can be found in the theoretical foundations provided by prominent

behavioral theorists such as Watson (1924) and Skinner (1953) and the cognitive theories

of Vygotsky (1962), and Luria (1961). The combination of these theories in therapeutic

applications represented a new wave of research by cognitive therapists such as Ellis

(1962) and Beck (1970), who were among the first to demonstrate that verbal behavior

can alter nonverbal behavior and that cognitions (e.g. expectations, attributions,

appraisals, etc.) can affect and mediate behavior. Concurrently, other researchers focused

on verbal self-regulation or "self-talk" (Meichenbaum, 1977) as a means to regulate

behavior and compared the effects of self-instructional training to decrease impulsive

behaviors (Meichenbaum & Goodman, 1971).

More recently, the link between feelings and their verbal labels has been

investigated (Cicchetti, Toth, & Bush, 1988; Greenberg, DeKlyen & Speltz, 1989). This

research suggests that the ability to consciously recognize and label emotion is a critical

component in the development of social competence. Many young children may enter

school not having been exposed to language to express their feelings. Without such a

vocabulary to express their own emotions, children may be unable to understand the

feelings of other children or the effect of their actions (such as aggressive behavior) upon

others (Cicchetti, et al, 1988; Greenberg, et al., 1989). Therefore, development of basic

vocabulary in this area may be indicated as a crucial first step toward social competence.









Other recent research has focused on the next step toward social competence,

cognitive problem-solving. This component focuses on improving students' ability to

think through interpersonal conflicts, develop the habit of generating multiple solutions,

and following step-by-step procedures to reach goals (Spivack & Shure, 1982;

Weissberg, 1985). Students who have learned basic vocabularies and strategies and yet

do not apply effective problem-solving behaviors can be characterized as having a

performance deficit rather than a skill deficit (Gresham et al., 2001). One way of

conceptualizing such skill or performance deficits is Dodge's (1986) social exchange

model. Dodge's model is based on a child's processing of social cues in five sequential

steps including the encoding of social cues, mental representation of the encoded cues,

assessment or generation of potential behavioral responses, evaluation and selection of a

response, and enactment of that response. Angry and aggressive children frequently

appear to have deficits at all 5 stages of this model (Dodge, et al.1986; Lochman, et al.,

1997).

Dodge, et al. (1986) further proposed that aggressive children display the following

five deficit characteristics

* Increased rates of attending to hostile cues

* Perception of others as having hostile intentions

* Demonstration of strategies for dealing with problem situations that are less
competent and are more action-oriented than verbally-oriented

* Anticipation that aggressive solutions will have more positive and less negative
outcomes

* Demonstration of a lack of social skill in enacting a selected strategy

Consistent with this model, the training and application of cognitive-behavioral

principles inherent in many cognitive-behavioral social skills training programs address









and attempt to restructure how a child perceives and consequently reacts to difficult or

problematic social situations, thereby remediating difficulties at each of the five steps.

Tools for Getting Along

The Tools for Getting Along curriculum is a 15-lesson anger management

curriculum designed to reduce aggressive and disruptive behaviors and promote pro-

social behaviors in fourth and fifth grade students (Smith, Miller, & Daunic, 2002).

Problem-solving skills are learned through the direct instruction of a 6-step problem-

solving model. Lessons center around themes including the recognition of anger in

oneself and others, how anger and frustration can create or exacerbate problems, training

in the de-escalation of frustration or anger by engaging student cognitions, defining

problems and generating solutions, selecting strategies to solve problems and the

evaluation of outcomes (Smith et al., 2002).

Like the PATHS and Second Step programs, The Tools for Getting Along

curriculum, makes use of teacher modeling, role-plays, and skill rehearsal. The

curriculum also includes components using paired and cooperative learning groups as

well as frequent review of problem-solving concepts and steps. Additionally, a point

system to reward student participation and increase generalization is utilized. The

curriculum also includes the use of a "Hassle Log" designed to allow students to

independently apply problem-solving steps and concepts to their own real-life problems

and share results with teachers and peers (Smith, et al., 2002).

After initial implementation of the Tools for Getting Along Curriculum, the

program was evaluated over three dimensions: knowledge of curriculum components,

behavior (as measured by teacher rating scales) and attitudes (as measured by teacher

completed anger scales). Preliminary findings indicated all students, those targeted to be









at risk and typical students, significantly increased their knowledge of problem-solving

strategies (Smith et al., 2002). Follow up measures indicated this knowledge was

maintained for at least five months. Additionally, teachers rated target students receiving

the intervention as significantly less aggressive than target students in the control group

and anger control scores for target students receiving the curriculum improved at a

marginally significant level (Daunic, Smith, Miller, Cresap, & Shelide, 2001).

Problem Statement

Violence and aggressive behaviors in schools are important issues that must be

addressed not only because of the immediate harm and disruption they cause, but also

because of the longer-term consequences that can result from such aggression. Students

who are identified as violent or aggressive in early elementary school frequently lack

basic social skills and are at selected risk for many serious behavioral difficulties

including delinquency, school failure, and dropout. Further, research over the past 25

years has consistently shown a strong relationship between positive social behavior and

academic achievement. In an effort to promote academic achievement and prevent

aggressive and disruptive behaviors, several cognitive-behavioral intervention programs,

such as PATHS, Second Step, and Tools for Getting Along, have been developed.

Although the above mentioned interventions have been successfully implemented

with students in pre-school through fifth grade and have shown consistent results in

elevating students' problem-solving ability and pro-social behavior as well as maintaining

these abilities and behaviors over time, most social skills programs are still designated for

initial implementation in fourth through sixth grades. Further, they are often

implemented on a pull-out basis targeting only the most aggressive or disruptive students.









The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of grade level and

student target status (designated by teacher nomination) on the acquisition of knowledge

regarding the basic problem-solving components of a cognitive-behavioral curriculum

designed to reduce aggressive and disruptive behaviors. Specific research questions

were:

When the curriculum is implemented in mixed third and fourth grade classrooms, are
there significant differences in knowledge acquisition between third and fourth
grade students?

When the curriculum is implemented universally in general education classrooms, are
there significant differences in knowledge acquisition between target and nontarget
students?

It is hoped that this research will extend our understanding of the ability of

younger students and targeted aggressive students to benefit from cognitive-behavioral

social skills interventions.














CHAPTER 3
METHOD

Participants

Participants for the present study were drawn from a larger study conducted at the

University of Florida, Department of Special Education entitled A Study of the

Acquisition, Maintenance, and Generalization of a Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention to

Prevent or Remediate Disruptive and Aggressive Behaviors in Inclusive School Settings.

Of eleven classrooms participating in this larger study in Bradford County, Florida, two

classrooms were chosen for the present study. The two selected classrooms each

included both third and fourth grade students.

Teachers from the selected classrooms sent consent forms (see Appendix A) home

to the parents of all students in their classes. A total of 37 consent forms were

distributed. Consent forms were returned from 11 third grade and 15 fourth grade

students, for a total of 26 participants.

Prior to the return of parental consent forms, teachers were asked to complete a

Student Nomination Form (see Appendix B) to identify students in their classes who

might stand to benefit most from the Tools for Getting Along curriculum. Teachers were

asked to choose up to ten children in their class whom they believed to be the most

aggressive or disruptive. Out of the 26 students returning parental consent forms, 15

were targeted students (3rd grade n = 5; 4th grade n = 10) identified by the classroom

teachers.









Program Description

The Tools for Getting Along curriculum is a cognitive-behavioral problem-solving

curriculum designed to reduce aggressive and disruptive behaviors by helping students

manage anger and frustration and learn pro-social skills through the instruction of a six-

step problem-solving model. These steps included:

1. Know you are angry or frustrated.
2. Calm down and think.
3. Think about what may be causing the problem.
4. Think of all the possible solutions to the problem
5. Pick a solution to try.
6. Think about how things turned out.

The Tools for Getting Along curriculum consisted of 15 formal lessons. Lesson

one consisted of a general introduction of the problem-solving process. Lessons two

through four addressed the recognition of problems (Step #1), an important step in the

problem-solving process which involves recognizing the symptoms of anger in oneself as

well as others, and learning how failing to regulate anger can create problems or make

existing problems worse. The next two lessons addressed strategies designed to train

students to "calm down and think" through the engagement of students' cognition (Step

#2). Problem definition, the generation of solutions, strategy selection, and evaluation of

outcome (Steps #3-6) constituted the nine remaining lessons in the program. All lessons

began with a review of the six problem-solving steps. Methods to teach and reinforce the

use of the model included group discussion about hypothetical problem situations

commonly encountered in the school setting, discussion about application of the model to

the students' current personal problems, role plays, hassle logs (worksheets), and frequent

review of the problem-solving steps. Students were encouraged to talk about their own









positive and negative experiences involving anger and anger control (Smith, Miller, &

Daunic, 2002).

Teacher Training

One teacher in the current study had taught the Tools for Getting Along curriculum

during the prior school year and had received a one hour group training on the purpose,

content, and delivery methods of the curriculum at that time. Because some changes and

revisions had been made to the curriculum since that time, this teacher received a brief

update and instructions related to those changes.

The second teacher received a one hour individual training to familiarize her with

the purpose, content, and delivery methods of the curriculum and to allow her to ask

questions and make comments related to curriculum instruction.

Both teachers received teacher instruction manuals with specific outlines for each

lesson (including teacher scripts and suggested discussion topics), all student handout

materials, and overhead transparencies for each lesson. Teachers also received feedback

forms to be completed after the instruction of each lesson to help inform decision making

regarding future revisions of the curriculum.

Instruments

The Problem-solving Questionnaire (PSQ; see Appendix C) was developed to

assess how well students learned curriculum content (Daunic, 2002). The scale consisted

of 14 multiple-choice items taken directly from the Tools for Getting Along curriculum.

For some items, only one choice was appropriate (e.g., "How should you get ideas to

solve a problem?"). Other items required students to "check all that apply" (e.g., "Check

all the ways your body may feel when you are angry."). Two additional items required

students to supply information ("What are the three levels of anger from lowest to









highest?" and "List the steps you would take to solve a problem."). The total number of

points possible on the PSQ was 29. In addition to revising problematic items, the

knowledge scale development included conducting a pilot using pre- and post-test

administration with 35 students who were taught the curriculum. The post-test was used

to conduct item analyses and determine alpha reliabilities. Cronbach's alpha for the total

scale was estimated at .71 (Daunic, 2002).

Procedure

During the spring 2002 semester, both teachers implemented the 15-lesson Tools

for Getting Along curriculum. The curriculum was taught in 30-40 minute sessions, two

to three times per week over a six to seven week period. The PSQ pre-test was

administered by the classroom teachers to all students at least one day prior to the

implementation of the curriculum and the PSQ post-test was administered by the

classroom teachers not more than one week after the entire curriculum had been

completed.














CHAPTER 4
RESULTS

The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of grade level and

target status (designated by teacher nomination) on the acquisition of knowledge

regarding the basic problem-solving components of a cognitive-behavioral curriculum

designed to reduce aggressive and disruptive behaviors. Specific research questions

included:

1. When the curriculum is implemented in mixed third and fourth grade classrooms,
are there significant differences in knowledge acquisition between third and fourth
grade students?

2. When the curriculum is implemented universally in general education classrooms,
are there significant differences in knowledge acquisition between target and
nontarget students?

Descriptive Statistics

The mean scores and standard deviations were computed for each grade level. The

mean scores were as follows: Grade three pre-test = 17.09, grade three post-test = 24.73;

grade four pre-test = 16.40, grade four post-test = 21.80. Table 4-1 shows these results.

Table 4-1. Means and standard deviations by grade
Variable N Mean SD
Pre 11 17.09 4.50
Grade 3
Post 11 24.73 4.56

e 4 Pre 15 16.40 3.33
Grade 4
Post 15 21.80 5.36

Mean scores also were computed for target and nontarget status. The mean scores

were as follows: Target status pre-test = 15.60, target status post test = 21.73; nontarget

status pre-test = 18.18, nontarget post-test = 24.82. Table 4-2 shows these results.









Table 4-2. Means and standard deviations by target / nontarget status
Variable N Mean Std. Dev
Target Status: pre 15 15.60 3.27
Target Status:
post 15 21.73 4.82

Nontarget Status: pre 11 18.18 4.12
post 11 24.82 5.29


Analysis of Variance

A general linear model (GLM) was used to analyze the SPQ data. Using

ANCOVA, no significant difference was found by grade level (F = 1.90, df = 1, 23,

p = .1811) or by target/nontarget status (F = .68, df = 1, 23, p = .4177).














CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION

The purpose of this study was to consider the effects of grade level and target status

on the acquisition of knowledge of problem-solving strategies in a universal cognitive-

behavioral intervention. Consistent with the earlier findings of Smith et al. (2002) in

their evaluation of the Tools for Getting Along curriculum, all participants in the present

study made gains in knowledge of problem-solving techniques from pre- to post-test

measures. These results also are consistent with evaluations of other social skills training

programs, such as the PATHS and Second Step programs, in that students were more

knowledgeable of the basic terminology of the problem-solving process and the steps

involved in generating positive solutions to everyday problem situations after receiving

the intervention (Greenberg, et al., 1988; Greenberg & Kusche, 1996; Grossman, et al.,

1997; McMahon, 2000; Taub, 2002). Additionally, no significant differences were found

between third and fourth grade students who participated in the intervention program; nor

were significant differences found between students that teachers identified as exhibiting

or being at risk for aggressive and/or disruptive behaviors compared to typical students.

With regard to results by grade level, the findings of this study indicate that

knowledge of problem-solving strategies can be acquired by children at least as young as

third grade. These findings, along with the results of previous studies using the PATHS

and Second Step programs as early as pre-school, lend support to the idea that social

skills programs should be implemented as early as possible with the youngest students to

ensure that all children learn to identify and use basic problem-solving strategies. This









finding is important for several reasons. First, aggressive behaviors are known to

develop early and remain stable over time (Laub & Lauritsen, 1998) and students

identified as violent or aggressive in early elementary school are at selected risk for a

host of serious behavioral problems including delinquency and school failure (Laub &

Lauritsen, 1998; Lochman, et al., 1997; Morrison et al., 1994). Therefore, intervention as

early as the pre-school level may be effective in ensuring that students' aggressive

responses are remediated before they can become stable. Second, upon entering school

systems, very young children may experience a skill deficit in terms of their ability to

identify their emotions and apply effective problem-solving strategies (Gresham et al.,

2001). Therefore, early implementation in the basics of problem-solving strategies can

serve as a foundation for advanced social skills training in the later grades when a lack of

problem-solving ability might be better characterized as a production problem (Gresham

et al., 2001).

Most importantly, research has consistently shown the link between pro-social

behavior and academic achievement (Lambert & Nicholl, 1977; Green et al., 1980;

Feshbach & Feshbach, 1987; Wentzel, 1993; DiPema & Elliott, 1999; Malecki & Elliott,

2002). Indeed, some researchers believe that positive pro-social functioning with peers is

not only desirable, but necessary in the development of new ideas and skills (Slavin,

1995) and that pro-social behaviors can actually "enable academic achievement" through

the creation of a social context for learning goals (Wentzel, 1993). Therefore, training

young children in problem-solving techniques may reduce aggressive and disruptive

behavior, thus allowing for improved academic performance for all students.









With regard to results by target status, the findings of this study indicate that when

the intervention is universally implemented, students are able to acquire knowledge of

problem-solving strategies regardless of whether they are targeted as exhibiting or being

at risk for the development of aggressive and/or disruptive behaviors. This finding may

indicate that there is little justification for the policies of many schools today to deliver

interventions with identified students only on a pull-out basis. Although the pull-out

model may be effective, particularly with children who exhibit extreme behavior

problems, it can best be characterized as secondary or tertiary intervention, which is not

believed to be the most effective form of prevention (Sameroff & Friese, 1990;

Simeonsson, 1996). Primary prevention programs aimed at reducing aggressive and

disruptive behaviors involve the promotion of healthy development, impact the largest

number of children and may reduce the need for diagnostic, curative or

corrective/remedial services in the future (Simeonson, 1994). The findings of this study

lend support to the idea that social skills training programs can be effective with

identified aggressive students when they are delivered in a general education setting and

that social skills training programs in schools can serve as an excellent vehicle for

primary prevention efforts. Further, IDEA demands that students be educated in the least

restrictive environment possible, regardless of the curriculum content, and social skills

training as primary prevention can help meet this mandate while enabling children to

reach the critically important goal of the development of socially successful relationships

(Elliott et al., 1995).

Limitations of the Study

Although this research was part of a larger study, only two classrooms were

selected for this study because they included both third and fourth grade students.









Therefore, one limitation to the current study was the relatively small sample size. As the

number of participants in any given study increases, the ability of the statistical tests

performed to detect a difference increases. In the present study, because the sample size

was small, the lack of effects by grade level and target status may not generalize to the

population at large.

Second, although the use of a knowledge test assures an accurate measure of

content knowledge, a measure of practical application of that knowledge was lacking in

this research. Even though students learned the basic content of the curriculum and were

able to identify useful problem-solving strategies, they may still lack the ability to apply

those strategies in their everyday lives. Unfortunately, the application component in

prevention research is frequently missing due to the lack of availability of direct

measurement instruments designed for this purpose and/or time constraints for direct

behavioral observations.

Finally, demographic information for individual participants was not available,

which allowed for no comparison across gender, race, or culture. Because no comparison

was made across those factors, effects caused by those factors are still unknown.

However, it should be noted that data collection for this project took place in a small rural

school district in the southeastern United States, which included a large number of

students of relatively low socio-economic status. Therefore, these findings may

generalize when implemented with a similar population.

Directions for Future Research

Consistent with previous research, the results of the present study demonstrate that

even very young students are able to acquire knowledge of basic problem-solving

vocabulary and strategies. Therefore, future research in social skills training programs









should focus not only on students in 4th through 12th grades, but on interventions with the

very youngest students in kindergarten through third grades as well.

Further, although no differences were observed between third and fourth grade

students receiving the Tools for Getting Along curriculum, implementation of the

curriculum in pre-school through second grade has not yet been attempted. To

effectively serve students earlier than grade three, more research may be necessary to

adapt and customize the Tools for Getting Along curriculum, as well as other existing

programs, to address the needs of students at earlier levels of development. This may

involve a more in depth analysis of when social difficulties are the result of a skill deficit

rather than a performance problem (Gresham et al., 2001). Social skills training

programs should contain instructional materials designed to address each of these

concerns at the appropriate stage of development (e.g. skills training for young children,

production training for older children and adolescents). It may also involve the

development of effective instruments for the measurement of the real-life application of

the problem-solving strategies contained in the curriculum.

Since no differences were found by grade level or by target status, it is hoped that

this research may encourage schools to implement social skills training programs on a

universal basis in the earliest grades. Not only will early, universal implementation assist

in the remediation of existing social skills deficits and improved social outcomes for all

children (Sameroff & Friese, 1990; Simeonsson, 1996), it also may increase the

likelihood that students will engage in pro-social behaviors in the future and help prepare

them for more advanced training in social competence in upper elementary and secondary

education settings (Gresham et al., 2001).






34


Finally, research indicates a strong link between early aggressive behavior and later

maladaptive outcomes including juvenile delinquency and school dropout (Laub &

Lauritsen, 1998; Lochman, et al., 1997; Morrison et al., 1994). Therefore, the increased

use of social skills training programs will serve our students well not only while they are

in school, but for the remainder of their lives.





















APPENDIX A
PARENT CONSENT FORM






Parta N.oticathm and Prmian PeFm

Deta PwIl or Ouardian.

tnder Ihe direction of Dr. %I phelrm mh hrri the ( ollice of i ducalt.vi. faculh aind graduaic IudaI ii l ihe
Illnvirstty of Floida have deveoped a 15 lesson cunrculum it help s[udenLs manage anger etTctiveIl) and u_
pro m solving in wocil iltuIions. We have alo developed sen menures to determine how the lessons afet
students' knowledge. atitudes and behaviors Your child's clasroon teacber or guidance countsme will he
teaching the clssons as part of this year's cumrculu, and we would like peaission to use the data from periodic
i~4uialns ofyrur child. frt'ni um- t uiwL-l urs ihl %ivr hiild ti's l r will compleeor ad minister to the
studies during class. and from information gainedd frmn the district u.-ih i p~siJ dhnsitiv ;grikl Ik-rl and
ltenda land incident records. Ikin ablc o uWe his Ln ormalon will help us continue ro develop the mral
valuable and useful program (ir children

Only Universitof Florida heluy and graduate students working on this proje will have aese to inmiraton
oitained. r the purpues o oofuw iuh. your dhild's identity will remain strictly confidential, to the extent
pfowied by law, through coding; that n. nu namcs ir idenitrl'ng inrirnimadiin will tK retpiwcd. We iantn:iipe that
there ari no risks involved, and there may be some direct or indiren benefits lor your child a a pranilpanl by
mnatiing kniiIledgI olprT icFm i lkinjg in social situations.

Panicipatlon or nonprticipalion m this study is voluntary and will noa alec yo ur chiki gra d or handing in the
clawsoom. 1herc will be no compcnsaion. however, we do need yo permission la your child to paicrlpat in
the study tur the current schol ye. Ifyou should decide to grant pernison phase be aware tha you or your
child ma \ uilhdraw that pennrmissn a any ime I you have any quesSains or concern feel free toconlic me at
the University oi f lorida a (352) 392-0726. cxt. 281 or Dr. Slephen Smith at (52) 392O701. ax 247
t)einns i L nccrnx arhimu participants' rights may be dilmred to the I IFIRR office. PO Bx 112250, IhUivrsity
of lorida, Gaiesville, F 32611

C c approWmie Cso prurrp ailtcnrm im Il hi miMiasr and \ur suoperliini in assivaing us.

Sincerely.


Ann P. Daunic. Ph.D.
Pr.)ecs Director

(Gerltr Aloi Carricialm

Please tear off and rtun this section of the Ieter to osvr child's claxsroorm eacher as suon as possible

I have read and understand the above procedures and I IX) DO) NO give permsion for my
un;idauuhlcr l luirlcipltc in thi dy I have received a copy of the description I
h.nir als di u orida may be working with higher.


ParntKJuaidian 2nd parent or Witness


Date


















APPENDIX B
STUDENT NOMINATION FORM


Aggreion Initerenlion Sud'
Uhivwasty of Florida


AGGRESSION INTERVENTION STUDY

STUDENT NOMINATION FORM


Dear Collague:

We would like In kientify somn children in our c la who may stand to benefit most
from the Getling Alonkg ccurriumn you will be teaching. Please choose the children in
your class (no more than 1 U whom you believe to he the mo.s aggesiv (Agg; or
disruptie. (Di.s From thi group. rank order (to the best of uur ability) from rrmn, (#1)
to least (e.g., Il)) aggressiv/Jdisruplive. Circle the rvpe of bchavior. if possbic, but rank
the students in terms of overall severity.


B lIAVIOR IYPI.

(circle one)

Agg Dis Buth


Agg Dis Both
Agg Dis Both



Agg Dis Both

Agg Dis Both


Agg Dis Both


Agg Dis Both

Agg Dis Bath


i k r 1 -[ .rl !,td a 0, du


RANK


NAYMF















APPENDIX C
PROBLEM SOLVING QUESTIONNAIRE









Name


PROBLEM SOLVING
WHAT DO I KNOW?



Circle the best answer to each question.


1. People usually get frustrated when they

a. can't have something they want.

b. are enraged.

c. are in control of their actions.

d. get help from someone.


2. When you are angry, what should you do first to help yourself think?

a. Ask the teacher what to do.

b. Talk to the person who made you angry.

c. Calm down.

d. Read about what to do.


3. How should you get ideas to solve a problem?

a. Talk the problem over with a friend or adult.

b. Watch what others do when they are angry.

c. Try not to think about the problem.

d. Think about whose fault the problem is.









4. When picking the best solution to a problem, you should think about

a. how angry you are.

b. what other people might think of you.

c. what is most likely to happen.

d. who is right or wrong.


5. After you pick a solution to a problem and try it out, you should

a. just forget about solving the problem if the solution didn't work.

b. tell all your friends how the solution worked.

c. not worry about whether the solution worked.

d. praise yourself if the solution works well.


6. Students who have problems

a. should always seek help from someone else.

b. can learn skills to help solve their problems.

c. most likely caused the problems themselves.

d. should let adults handle the problems.


7. When you are angry, the best way to calm down is to

a. talk to your friends.

b. use self-talk.

c. decide how to solve your problems.

d. be patient.










8. A goal is

a. what other people want you to do.

b. usually a barrier.

c. caused by anger.

d. something you want to happen.


9. When you are enraged, you usually

a. lose control.

b. are irritated.

c. think better.

d. solve your problems better.


10. When people are frustrated, they usually want to

a. pay attention.

b. give up.

c. go home.

d. solve their problems.


11. A problem always has two parts:

a. a right and a wrong answer.

b. anger and frustration.

c. a beginning and an end.

d. a goal and a barrier.










Read each question carefully and follow the directions given.


12. Check all the things that can happen when you know how to solve your problems:

You will make all A's.

You will often get what you want.

You will often get what you need.

You will be in control of your actions.

You will never be angry with your friends.



13. Check all the ways your body may feel when you are angry:

Your stomach feels sick.

Your feet hurt.

Your heart beats fast.

You feel sleepy.

Your face feels hot.



14. Check all the things that are true:

Barriers keep you from getting what you want.

Barriers should be ignored.

Barriers can cause problems.

Barriers are not a problem.

__ Barriers show you how to solve problems.







42


15. What are the three levels of anger, from lowest to highest?

1. (lowest)

2.

3. (highest)






15. List the steps you would take to solve a problem.




1.



2.



3.




4.



5.















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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and shortly thereafter moved to Michigan

where I was raised. I attended both elementary and high school at Hanover-Horton

Public Schools in Horton, Michigan. Following High School I worked for four years and

spent the next 18 years doing volunteer work and raising my family. I returned to school

in 1995 and earned my Bachelor of Science degree in psychology at Eastern Michigan

University in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 2000. In the summer of 2000, I moved to

Gainesville, Florida to pursue my Master of Arts in Education (M.A.E.) and Specialist in

Education (Ed.S.) degrees. After graduation I intend to serve as a school psychologist in

a public school district in Florida.