Link between positive teacher-student relationships and good behaviour in teens

A new study has found that having a positive relationship with a teacher when a child is 10 to 11 years old can be linked to “prosocial” behaviours such as cooperation and altruism, as well as reducing problem classroom behaviours such as aggression and oppositional behaviour.

The study used data from a major longitudinal study of Swiss children among a culturally diverse sample of 7 to 15 year olds, and involved 1,067 students randomly sampled across 56 of the city’s schools. Only students who experienced a change of teacher when the student was 9 or 10 were used for the study, with data gathered from teachers, students, and their parents on an annual and later biannual basis.

Using this data, Ingrid Obsuth and her team were able to “score” the children on over 100 different characteristics or experiences that could potentially account for good or bad behaviour. They then matched students in pairs with similar scores in all respects except for how they felt about their teacher, and how the teacher felt about them.

Students who had a more positive relationship with their teacher displayed more prosocial behaviour towards peers (on average 18%, and 10% more up to two years later), and up to 38% less aggressive behaviour (and 9% less up to four years later), over students who felt ambivalent or negative towards their teacher.

Source: A Non-bipartite Propensity Score Analysis of the Effects of Teacher–Student Relationships on Adolescent Problem and Prosocial Behavior (2016), Journal of Youth and Adolescence

Which schools abandon interventions?

A new study published in Prevention Science looks at which schools persevere with interventions and which abandon them.

Led by Kent McIntosh from the University of Oregon, the researchers looked at 5,331 schools during five years of implementing schoolwide positive behavioural interventions and supports (SWPBIS) – a school-wide behaviour management program. The extent to which a school was implementing the program was measured using three surveys completed by the schools each year. Analysing this data, the researchers identified four different kinds of schools:

  • Sustainers (29% of schools) had a high likelihood of meeting the fidelity criterion across all years of implementation.
  • Slow Starters (13%) had an inconsistent pattern of reaching the fidelity criterion across the first three years of implementation that then increased to nearly the level of the Sustainers in the fourth and fifth years.
  • Late Abandoners (24%) were more likely than not to reach the fidelity criterion in the first three years of implementation, but then were very unlikely to reach the criterion in the fourth and fifth years.
  • Rapid Abandoners (34%) had a high probability of reaching the fidelity criterion in the first year, but dropped off rapidly and remained low in subsequent years.

Schools were more likely to abandon if they were middle or high schools, smaller, and had fewer schools locally that were already using SWPBIS. The researchers suggest that their results highlight the importance of supporting those schools implementing programs, particularly in Year 1 (when Rapid Abandoners are already struggling) and Year 3 (when Late Abandoners are more likely to quit).

Source: Identifying and Predicting Distinct Patterns of Implementation in a School-Wide Behavior Support Framework (2016), Prevention Science

Keep up the good work

In his Huffington Post blog, Robert Slavin, director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education, discusses a study that evaluated a behaviour management programme, First Step to Success, for students with behaviour problems. The programme has been evaluated successfully many times. In this latest study, 200 children in grades 1 to 3 (Years 2 to 4) with serious behaviour problems were randomly assigned to experimental or control groups. On behaviour and achievement measures, students in the experimental group scored much higher, with effect sizes of +0.44 to +0.87.

The researchers came back a year later to see if the outcomes had been maintained. Despite the substantial impacts seen previously, none of three prosocial/adaptive behaviour measures, only one of three problem/maladaptive behaviours, and none of four academic achievement measures now showed positive outcomes. However, the students had passed from teachers who had been trained in the First Step method to teachers who had not.

Dr Slavin says, “Imagine that all teachers in the school learned the program and all continued to implement it for many years. In this circumstance, it would be highly likely that the first-year positive impacts would be sustained and most likely improved over time.” He discusses the implications of the research, and the importance of continuing with successful interventions.

Source: Keep Up the Good Work (To Keep Up the Good Outcomes) (2016), Huffington Post

The effects of parenting programmes

A new policy brief from The Campbell Collaboration summarises evidence from six Campbell systematic reviews of parenting programmes.

These programmes are designed to enhance parents’ knowledge, skills, and understanding, and to improve both child and parent behavioural and psychological outcomes. Programmes are typically offered to parents over the course of 8 to 12 weeks, for one or two hours each week. The programmes can be delivered on a one-to-one basis or to groups, and be provided in a range of settings, including hospitals, social work clinics, schools, and churches.

The six systematic reviews that have been published by The Campbell Collaboration have evaluated the effectiveness of a range of parenting programmes, including those aimed at addressing early onset conduct disorder and improving outcomes for children with ADHD. The reviews provide unequivocal evidence that parenting programmes are effective in improving aspects of parents’ psychosocial functioning (eg, depression, anxiety, confidence, and satisfaction with the partner relationship) in the short-term. Behavioural and cognitive-behavioural group-based parenting interventions have also been found to be effective at improving child conduct problems, parental mental health, and parenting skills in the short term for parents of children aged 3-12. However, the evidence of effectiveness for parents of younger children is less comprehensive.

Source: Effects of Parenting Programmes: A Review of Six Campbell Systematic Reviews (2016), The Campbell Collaboration.

Interventions to improve student behaviour

The Campbell Collaboration has published a policy brief looking at six systematic reviews of school-based interventions with students who demonstrate at-risk behaviour.

It found that school intervention programmes are marginally effective at ensuring that more students attend school, and at curtailing harmful student behaviours.

Students participating in 28 programmes addressing chronic truancy improved their attendance by nearly five days per year, although in most of the programmes student attendance was still below 90%.

A review of 73 violence prevention programmes found that students showed significantly lower levels of aggressive and disruptive behaviour, including a 7% reduction in fighting on school grounds.

Twelve studies of interventions aimed at improving classroom-wide behaviour found that students in the programmes showed less disruptive behaviour than their peers.

The 44 anti-bullying interventions studied in 16 countries showed average decreases of 20-23% in bullying and 17-20% in victimisation.

Evidence from 12 studies of sexual violence prevention programmes found that students had increased awareness of sexual violence and approaches to conflict resolution, but there was no effect on levels of violent behaviour or victimisation.

Source: Effects of School Based Interventions to Improve Student Behaviour: A Review of Six Campbell Systematic Reviews (2016), The Campbell Collaboration.

Classroom management interventions made a difference

A meta-analysis of classroom management interventions has found that they improved academic, behavioural, and social-emotional outcomes.

Published in the Review of Educational Research, the study included 54 classroom management interventions in 47 studies published between 2003 and 2013. It included some interventions that had been evaluated several times (including Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS), the Good Behavior Game, and Zippy’s Friends). About three-quarters of the studies were carried out in the US, with the remainder in Europe and Canada.

Most interventions were focused on changing students’ behaviour (85%), improving students’ social-emotional development (74%), or changing teachers’ behaviour (54%). Only two interventions were specifically targeted at improving teacher–student relationships.

The analysis found an overall effect size of +0.22 for the interventions, with a slightly higher effect on behaviour (+0.24), and less on social-emotional (+0.21) and academic (+0.17) outcomes. There was no significant effect on motivational outcomes. The analysis also indicated that interventions focused on social-emotional development of the students were somewhat more effective than those without that component.

Source: A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Classroom Management Strategies and Classroom Management Programs on Students’ Academic, Behavioral, Emotional, and Motivational Outcomes (2016), Review of Educational Research.