Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Teacher Adherence and Its Relation to Teacher Attitudes and Student Outcomes in an Elementary School-Based Violence Prevention Program

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Teacher Adherence and Its Relation to Teacher Attitudes and Student Outcomes in an Elementary School-Based Violence Prevention Program

Article excerpt

Abstract. This study examined variability in teachers' reported adherence to a school-based violence prevention program, Creating a Peaceful School Learning Environment, and investigated the relations of teacher adherence to teachers' attitudes related to the intervention and students' attitudes about and responses to bullying. The results provide evidence of variation in adherence among teachers and schools and that teachers' attitudes may have affected adherence. Prospective analyses demonstrated dose-effect relations of teacher adherence with students' attitudes about and responses to bullying, particularly their tendency to assist victims. Findings underscore the importance of assessing and promoting adherence for school-based programs, inform the use of self-report to assess teacher adherence, and provide evidence that teachers are important contributors to the success of school-based antibullying interventions.

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Pressure on school personnel to address school bullying and a growing emphasis on empirically supported interventions have created an urgent need for school-based violence prevention programs with scientific support. Although numerous programs have been tried in schools, few have undergone rigorous evaluation (for reviews, see Clayton, Ballif-Span-vill, & Hunsaker, 2001; Howard, Flora, & Griffen, 1999). Sadly, anecdotal evidence suggests that inconsistencies in program implementation have diminished treatment effects and, in some cases, led to null findings (Howard et al., 1999; Hunter, Elias, & Norris, 2001; Roland, 1989; Stevens, Van Oost, & De Bourdeaud-huij, 2001). Despite these suspected threats to effectiveness, systematic work addressing intervention fidelity in school violence prevention is scarce and, in the absence of systematic implementation checks, no solid conclusions regarding dose-effect relationships can be drawn (Kaz-din, 1986; Yeaton & Sechrest, 1981). The current study addresses this gap by describing our team's approach to assessing teacher adherence to the classroom-specific aspects of the Creating a Peaceful School Learning Environment program (CAPSLE; Twemlow, Fonagy, & Sacco, 2001), a whole-school approach to school violence prevention in elementary schools. We present data regarding variability in adherence, teachers' beliefs and attitudes that may affect adherence, and the effect of teacher adherence on students' attitudes and responses to bullying.

CAPSLE

The CAPSLE program is based on the assumption that all members of the school community play a role in bullying and that anyone can assume the roles of bully, victim, and bystander (Twemlow, Sacco, & Williams, 1996). CAPSLE promotes awareness of interpersonal dynamics and capacity for perspective taking, which are believed to encourage empathy and decrease preaggression attitudes. In addition, the intervention enlists all members of the school community to take an active stance against bullying, especially when they witness bullying as bystanders, by supporting victims (i.e., helpful bystanding) and refrain ing from the encouragement of bully behavior (i.e., aggressive bystanding). This underlying philosophy is integrated into the school's daily activities and environment via four primary elements: a classroom management plan, positive climate campaign, Gentle Warriors martial arts instruction, and student mentorship programs (see Table 1). CAPSLE's positive, nonpunitive approach and emphasis on the school climate at multiple levels (e.g., school, classroom, and individual) is compatible with the best practices for school-based violence prevention programs (e.g., Reinke & Herman, 2002; Whitted & Dupper, 2005). Empirical study of CAPSLE supports its effectiveness in addressing aggression and aggressive bystanding and in promoting empathy and academic achievement compared to matched controls (Fonagy, Twemlow, Vernberg, Sacco, & Little, 2005; Twemlow, Fonagy, Sacco, Gies et al. …

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