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Intervention Summary

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Ripple Effects Whole Spectrum Intervention System (Ripple Effects)

Ripple Effects Whole Spectrum Intervention System (Ripple Effects) is an interactive, software-based adaptive intervention for students that is designed to enhance social-emotional competencies and ultimately improve outcomes related to school achievement and failure, delinquency, substance abuse, and mental health. Two versions of the software are available: Ripple Effects for Kids (grades 2-5) and Ripple Effects for Teens (grades 6-10). The software presents students with peer-narrated tutorials that address social-emotional competencies (e.g., self-understanding, empathy, impulse control, emotional regulation, assertiveness, decisionmaking, connection to community), present science-based information about group-level risk factors, and give each student personalized guidance to address risk and protective factors specific to the student's environment and personal goals.

Ripple Effects is customizable in terms of both content and process. The staff administering the program can preselect the content for students by choosing from an array of topics (140 for the kids' software and 390 for the teens' software) on the basis of the student population's needs and the goals being targeted. For example, staff might select social-emotional learning and character education sequences for universal mental health promotion and substance abuse prevention; bullying and bias activity prevention sequences for targeted prevention; or a sequence targeting defiant behavior and conduct problems. Students also may choose some topics for themselves. Topics can be explored in a multitude of ways (e.g., case studies, videos, factual information, photos/illustrations, journal writing exercises, quizzes) in any order depending on what is most compelling to individual students. Interactive profilers help students identify their social-emotional strengths and individual learning style and apply that knowledge as they use the software.

The staff administering Ripple Effects use its core process components and built-in data management system to make sure students are logged in correctly, assign the tutorials, and track student progress. Program duration varies by setting. For example, the intervention could be used semiweekly over the school year as a universal course of positive youth development during the advisory period; as a one-semester course to prevent academic failure in a classroom, computer lab, or ad hoc setting for high-risk students; or as a single, 45-minute session for students with first-time behavior offenses in detention or counseling settings. Any staff member can administer the program because no specific content expertise is required. However, 3 hours of staff training to plan program adaptation for site- or student-specific requirements are recommended. The training can be delivered in person by the developer, or staff can complete the training through self-directed use of the Ripple Effects for Staff software.

The studies reviewed for this summary were conducted with students in grades 6-8 using Ripple Effects for Teens.

Descriptive Information

Areas of Interest Mental health promotion
Substance abuse prevention
Outcomes Review Date: February 2011
1: School achievement
2: Resilience assets
Outcome Categories Education
Mental health
Social functioning
Ages 6-12 (Childhood)
13-17 (Adolescent)
Genders Male
Female
Races/Ethnicities American Indian or Alaska Native
Asian
Black or African American
Hispanic or Latino
White
Race/ethnicity unspecified
Settings School
Geographic Locations Urban
Suburban
Rural and/or frontier
Implementation History Since the development of Ripple Effects in 1998, more than 1 million children and adolescents have used the program. An estimated 180,000 students use the software each year in more than 3,000 schools and community-based settings. The intervention has been implemented in all 50 States and the U.S. Virgin Islands; in British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Ontario, Canada; and in the Cayman Islands and Trinidad.

Ripple Effects has been evaluated in a variety of contexts, including in disciplinary settings (to reduce repeat referrals to in-school suspension) and as the psychosocial component of a comprehensive gang intervention program with seven cohorts of students in a very high-risk school district. It also has been used in special education/response to intervention (RTI) and alternative school settings; for universal character education and social-emotional learning training in advisory periods; for targeted intervention with students facing group-level risk factors, such as bullying or alcohol abuse; and as a selective/indicated intervention to provide positive behavioral support for students whose behavior is interfering with their performance at school. More than 95% of students who are mandated to use the program for any reason also privately use it to explore issues of personal interest, often accessing tutorials on various kinds of trauma.
NIH Funding/CER Studies Partially/fully funded by National Institutes of Health: Yes
Evaluated in comparative effectiveness research studies: No
Adaptations The Ripple Effects instructional process has been adapted to respond to differences in learning styles and to meet the needs of students with attention deficit problems (by using lesson components that are no longer than 60 seconds each), students with low reading skills (by including peer narration), and English language learners (by incorporating comic book illustrations with short captions). The program also has been adapted for students with a hearing impairment (by using visuals plus text), and it has been used at some schools for deaf students. In addition, thousands of student-level adaptations of content scope and sequence have been made to meet specific individualized education program requirements and as specific therapeutic sanctions for individual students.
Adverse Effects In a 2008 study of Ripple Effects by Bass, Perry, Ray, & Berg ("Impact of social-emotional learning software on attitudes about marijuana and alcohol" [unpublished manuscript]), African American students in the intervention group had significantly lower scores on perception of harm of marijuana (Monitoring the Future scale) after the intervention than at pretest. However, these same students had significantly higher grades and fewer discipline problems after the intervention than they did at pretest and had greater pre- to posttest improvement in scores on perception of harm of methamphetamines compared with control group students.
IOM Prevention Categories Universal
Selective
Indicated

Quality of Research
Review Date: February 2011

Documents Reviewed

The documents below were reviewed for Quality of Research. The research point of contact can provide information regarding the studies reviewed and the availability of additional materials, including those from more recent studies that may have been conducted.

Study 1

Perry, S. M., Bass, K. M., Ray, A., & Berg, S. (2008). Impact of a computerized social-emotional learning intervention on African American and Latino students when implemented in lieu of academic instruction: A randomized controlled trial. Unpublished manuscript.

Study 2

Perry, S. M., Bass, K. M., Ray, A., & Berg, S. (2008). Impact of Ripple Effects computer-based, social-emotional learning intervention on school outcomes among rural early adolescents. Unpublished manuscript.

Study 3

De Long-Cotty, B. (2008). Can computer-based training enhance adolescents' resilience? Results of a randomized control trial. Unpublished manuscript expanded from a poster presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Society for Prevention Research, Washington, DC.

Supplementary Materials

Furlong, M. J., Ritchey, K. M., & O'Brennan, L. M. (2009). Developing norms for the California Resilience Youth Development Module: Internal assets and school resources subscales. California School Psychologists, 14, 35-46.

Perry, S. M., Bass, K. M., Ray, A., & Berg, S. (2008). Impact of social-emotional learning software on objective school outcomes among diverse adolescents: A summary analysis of six studies. Unpublished manuscript expanded from a poster presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Society for Prevention Research, Washington, DC.

Ray, A., & Berg, S. (2010). Adaptation and fidelity with a computerized social-emotional learning intervention across 50 real-world settings. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Ray, A., & Berg, S. (2010, May). Compliance factors with self-regulated use of a computerized, social-emotional learning intervention. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, CO.

Outcomes

Outcome 1: School achievement
Description of Measures School achievement was assessed using six measures: grade point average (GPA), days absent, tardy rates, suspensions, and discipline referrals (comparing the year before the intervention with 1 year after the intervention) and school enrollment rates at 1-year follow-up (comparing across study groups). Data were provided by the school district.
Key Findings In one study, 8th-grade students within one school were randomly assigned either to the intervention group or to a control group that received classroom instruction as usual during the study and the intervention after the study. The intervention group had significant pre- to posttest gains in average GPA relative to the control group (p < .01). At posttest, the intervention group also had significantly lower tardy rates than the control group (p < .05). In addition, at 1-year follow-up, the intervention group had twice as many students still enrolled in school compared with the control group (p < .05). There were no significant pre- to posttest differences in absenteeism between the two study groups. Although suspension and discipline referral rates were 50% lower in the intervention group at posttest than in the control group, those differences was not significant.

In another study, 7th-grade students were randomly assigned either to the intervention group or to a control group that received classroom instruction as usual during the study and the intervention after the study. At posttest, the average GPA was nearly a full grade point higher in the intervention group than in the control group (p < .05). Although tardy rates at posttest were 20% lower in the intervention group than in the control group, the difference was not significant. There were no significant pre- to posttest differences in absenteeism scores between the two groups. The school reported no suspensions during the study period.

Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1, Study 2
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 3.3 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 2: Resilience assets
Description of Measures Resilience assets were measured using three scales of the Resilience Youth Development Module of the California Healthy Kids Survey: autonomy (with three subscales: self-management, self-efficacy, and sense of purpose), social competence (with two subscales: empathy and connectedness), and problem solving. Higher mean scores signify better resilience assets. Resilience assets were measured at pretest, posttest, and 5-month follow-up.
Key Findings Sixth-grade students in one school were randomly assigned either to the intervention group or to a control group that received only classroom instruction as usual. The intervention group had significant pre- to posttest improvement compared with the control group on two resilience assets: empathy (p = .02) and problem solving (p = .03). However, the control group had significantly greater pre- to posttest improvement than the intervention group on one resilience asset: connectedness (p = .04). There were no significant differences between groups on any of the autonomy subscales from pre- to posttest. In addition, there were no significant differences between groups for any of the resilience assets from pretest to 5-month follow-up or from posttest to 5-month follow-up.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 3
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 3.4 (0.0-4.0 scale)

Study Populations

The following populations were identified in the studies reviewed for Quality of Research.

Study Age Gender Race/Ethnicity
Study 1 13-17 (Adolescent) 56% Female
44% Male
75% Black or African American
18% Hispanic or Latino
3.5% Asian
3.5% Race/ethnicity unspecified
Study 2 13-17 (Adolescent) 58% Male
42% Female
87% White
9% American Indian or Alaska Native
2% Asian
2% Black or African American
Study 3 6-12 (Childhood) 51.3% Female
48.7% Male
52% White
26% Hispanic or Latino
19% Asian
4% Black or African American

Quality of Research Ratings by Criteria (0.0-4.0 scale)

External reviewers independently evaluate the Quality of Research for an intervention's reported results using six criteria:

  1. Reliability of measures
  2. Validity of measures
  3. Intervention fidelity
  4. Missing data and attrition
  5. Potential confounding variables
  6. Appropriateness of analysis

For more information about these criteria and the meaning of the ratings, see Quality of Research.

Outcome Reliability
of Measures
Validity
of Measures
Fidelity Missing
Data/Attrition
Confounding
Variables
Data
Analysis
Overall
Rating
1: School achievement 3.8 3.3 4.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 3.3
2: Resilience assets 3.3 3.5 4.0 3.0 3.0 3.5 3.4

Study Strengths

The outcome measures used in the studies had good to excellent reliability and validity. Implementation fidelity was strong in all three studies. In addition, implementation rates (i.e., percentages of students completing the required number of tutorials) were high. Measures were repeated across the three randomized controlled trials. A variety of appropriate statistical tests were used for each study.

Study Weaknesses

Because two of the studies had small sample sizes, there may be limitations in attributing study findings to the intervention. Missing data were not imputed in any of the three studies.

Readiness for Dissemination
Review Date: February 2011

Materials Reviewed

The materials below were reviewed for Readiness for Dissemination. The implementation point of contact can provide information regarding implementation of the intervention and the availability of additional, updated, or new materials.

Assessment Tools [Guide]

Elementary/teen posters and Eagle Eye postcards

Evidence of Effectiveness: Implementation Fidelity

Program Web site, http://www.rippleeffects.com/index.html

Ray, A. (2009). From multidisciplinary theory to multimedia SEL interventions: The conceptual underpinnings of Ripple Effects Whole Spectrum Intervention System. San Francisco, CA: Ripple Effects.

Ripple Effects Pounce: A Behavior Observation Form for Charting Student Strengths

Ripple Effects: Software to Positively Change Behavior [Boxed software]--includes the following CD-ROMs and guides:

  • Coach for Staff [CD-ROM]
  • Get Up and Get Going Fast
  • Implementation Planning
  • Kids User's Guide [CD-ROM]
  • Personal Trainer for Parents
  • Ripple Effects for Teens User's Guide [CD-ROM]
  • Ripple Effects Overview [CD-ROM]
  • Ripple Effects Personalized Training, Comprehensive, Behavioral RTI: Creating a Plan for RTI and EIS Individualized Behavior Interventions
    • Positive Behavioral Intervention: Sample Individual Treatment Plans
    • Targeted Prevention: Risk Reduction
    • Universal Promotion: Sample Scope and Sequences for Positive Youth Development
  • Ripple Effects Survey 3.0 [CD-ROM]
  • Ripple Effects User Guide and Implementation Support [CD-ROM]
  • Technology Guide
  • Trainer's Guide
  • Uses in Juvenile Justice Setting

Sample of Certificate of Completion for Teens/Kids

Whole Spectrum Intervention System Folder

Readiness for Dissemination Ratings by Criteria (0.0-4.0 scale)

External reviewers independently evaluate the intervention's Readiness for Dissemination using three criteria:

  1. Availability of implementation materials
  2. Availability of training and support resources
  3. Availability of quality assurance procedures

For more information about these criteria and the meaning of the ratings, see Readiness for Dissemination.

Implementation
Materials
Training and Support
Resources
Quality Assurance
Procedures
Overall
Rating
4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0

Dissemination Strengths

The program materials are attractive and engaging and are likely to hold the attention of children and adolescents from diverse backgrounds. A variety of tools are provided to help organizations assess their readiness for implementation and develop a site-specific implementation plan. To prepare staff for using the program, the developer provides an initial 3-hour training (recommended but not required) in several locations across the country. Software tutorials and telephone/email assistance are available to support training and implementation, and complete instructions and technical support are provided to ensure that sites can install the software and troubleshoot problems. In addition, the software includes data management, administrative, and evaluation tools to measure program effectiveness by ensuring that activities are completed and that students' knowledge improves over the course of the intervention. The software's automatic reporting capability provides implementers with immediate feedback on various quality indicators.

Dissemination Weaknesses

No weaknesses were identified by reviewers.

Costs

The cost information below was provided by the developer. Although this cost information may have been updated by the developer since the time of review, it may not reflect the current costs or availability of items (including newly developed or discontinued items). The implementation point of contact can provide current information and discuss implementation requirements.

Item Description Cost Required by Developer
Ripple Effects for Kids (includes software for grades 2-5, basic manual, additional print/online manuals to support implementation, group-level needs assessment tools, and supplemental print/online resources)
  • License for 1 computer: $599
  • Licenses for 5 computers at one site: $2,399
  • Licenses for 30 computers at one site: $3,999
  • License for network use or unlimited installations within a single school building: $5,499 for small sites, $9,899 for large sites
Yes (for implementation with grades 2-5)
Ripple Effects for Teens (includes software for grades 6-10, basic manual, additional print/online manuals to support implementation, group-level needs assessment tools, and supplemental print/online resources)
  • License for 1 computer: $599
  • Licenses for 5 computers at one site: $2,399
  • Licenses for 30 computers at one site: $3,999
  • License for network use or unlimited installations within a single school building: $5,499 for small sites, $9,899 for large sites
Yes (for implementation with grades 6-10)
Ripple Effects for Staff (skill training and leadership software)
  • License for 1 computer: $450
  • Licenses for 5 computers at one site: $2,399
  • Licenses for 30 computers at one site: $5,000
  • License for network use or unlimited installations within a single school building: $7,000 for small sites, $12,000 for large sites
No
1-day, on-site staff training (includes materials) About $2,500 (price varies depending on length of training and topics covered); trainer's travel expenses additional No
3-day, national Certified Trainer Training $895 per person No
Supplemental training Webinars Included with software purchase No
Supplemental training videos Free No
Technical assistance and consultation (telephone or email) Included with software purchase No
Ripple Effects Screen for Success Suite (software tools for assessing individual resilience assets and risk and protective factors)
  • License for 1 computer: $99
  • Licenses for 5 computers at one site: $299
  • Licenses for 30 computers at one site: $599
  • License for network use or unlimited installations within a single school building: $799 for small sites, $999 for large sites
No
Replications

Selected citations are presented below. An asterisk indicates that the document was reviewed for Quality of Research.

Bass, K. M., Perry, S. M., Ray, A., & Berg, S. (2008). Impact of a computer-based, social-emotional intervention on outcomes among Latino students when adult monitors of the student training are non-professionals: A randomized controlled trial. Unpublished manuscript.

Bass, K. M., Perry, S. M., Ray, A., & Berg, S. (2008). Impact of a self-regulated, computerized, social-emotional learning intervention on disengaged and delinquent students at a continuation high school. Unpublished manuscript.

Bass, K. M., Perry, S. M., Ray, A., & Berg, S. (2008). Impact of self-regulated use of computer-based social-emotional learning on rural adolescents at risk for alcohol abuse. Unpublished manuscript.

Perry, S. M., Bass, K. M., Ray, A., & Berg, S. (2008). Potential and limitations of Ripple Effects self-regulated, computerized, social-emotional training to improve outcomes among students behind grade level in an unsafe and chaotic school. Unpublished manuscript.

Contact Information

To learn more about implementation, contact:
Kerry Crespo
(888) 259-6618 ext 350
kpifer@rippleeffects.com

To learn more about research, contact:
Alice Ray, M.B.A.
(888) 259-6618 ext 311
aray@rippleeffects.com

Consider these Questions to Ask (PDF, 54KB) as you explore the possible use of this intervention.

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