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Intervention Summary

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Tools for Getting Along: Teaching Students to Problem Solve

Tools for Getting Along (TFGA): Teaching Students to Problem Solve is a classroom-based curriculum designed to prevent or ameliorate emotional and behavioral problems among students in the 4th and 5th grades by teaching skills related to the use of social problem solving and anger management, particularly in emotionally charged situations. The intervention, which uses a cognitive behavioral approach, aims to improve executive functioning skills such as inhibition of impulses, the ability to shift strategies when needed, and the use of working memory to keep goals in mind during social decisionmaking. Through interactive lessons, the students rehearse, review, and practice the following six cumulative steps in a problem-solving sequence: (1) recognize that a problem exists, (2) calm down, (3) define the problem in terms of goals and barriers, (4) generate solutions through brainstorming, (5) select a strategy by considering possible outcomes and implement the strategy, and (6) evaluate the outcome.

TFGA is implemented in 20 twice-weekly core lessons of 30 to 40 minutes each, followed by 6 weekly booster lessons. The 20 core lessons consist of an introductory lesson, 14 lessons devoted to learning the problem-solving steps, and 5 lessons interspersed among the 14 lessons in which the students use role-play to practice the steps they have learned to date. Learning the problem-solving steps is accomplished through direct instruction, teacher modeling, guided and independent practice, and role-plays with explicit self-talk. The booster lessons further the students' practice using role-plays. TFGA is typically delivered at the universal level so that students who are beginning to exhibit emotional or behavioral risk can benefit from participating in discussions and activities with peers who do not display this risk.

Teachers are encouraged to complete 1-2 days of training on the intervention prior to implementation to gain a conceptual understanding of the lesson structure and sequence and to practice teaching strategies such as modeling self-talk.

Descriptive Information

Areas of Interest Mental health promotion
Outcomes Review Date: July 2012
1: Aggression
2: Problem-solving knowledge
3: Executive functioning
4: Trait anger and anger expressed outwardly
5: Social problem-solving orientation and style
Outcome Categories Social functioning
Ages 6-12 (Childhood)
Genders Male
Female
Races/Ethnicities Black or African American
Hispanic or Latino
White
Race/ethnicity unspecified
Settings School
Geographic Locations Urban
Suburban
Rural and/or frontier
Implementation History The first iteration of TFGA, known as the Anger Control Curriculum, was evaluated in schools in 2002. It is estimated that the intervention has been implemented with 50,000 students in hundreds of sites, primarily elementary schools. The intervention has been used in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, as well as in Canada, India, Israel, the Netherlands, South Africa, and United Arab Emirates. The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs and Institute of Education Sciences have provided funding to support research on the intervention.
NIH Funding/CER Studies Partially/fully funded by National Institutes of Health: No
Evaluated in comparative effectiveness research studies: Yes
Adaptations No population- or culture-specific adaptations of the intervention were identified by the developer.
Adverse Effects No adverse effects, concerns, or unintended consequences were identified by the developer.
IOM Prevention Categories Universal
Selective

Quality of Research
Review Date: July 2012

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

Daunic, A. P., Smith, S. W., Brank, E. M., & Penfield, R. D. (2006). Classroom-based cognitive-behavioral intervention to prevent aggression: Efficacy and social validity. Journal of School Psychology, 44, 123-139.

Study 2

Daunic, A. P., Smith, S. W., Garvan, C. W., Barber, B. R., Becker, M. K., Peters, C. D., et al. (2012). Reducing developmental risk for emotional/behavioral problems: A randomized controlled trial examining the Tools for Getting Along curriculum. Journal of School Psychology, 50(2), 149-166.  Pub Med icon

Outcomes

Outcome 1: Aggression
Description of Measures Aggression was measured using the Reactive-Proactive Aggression Scale, a 19-item questionnaire. Each item presents a child's reaction to a specific situation (e.g., "When this child has been teased or threatened he/she gets angry easily and strikes back," "This child threatens or bullies others in order to get his/her own way"). Responses are given on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always). Two subscales, each with 3 items, measure reactive and proactive forms of aggression, with higher scores indicating greater aggression. Assessments were completed by teachers.
Key Findings In one study, schools were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a group providing the intervention with booster lessons, a group providing the intervention without booster lessons, or a control group in which schools conducted their usual activities. Data were collected at baseline, after completion of the core lessons, and after completion of the booster lessons. From baseline to completion of the core lessons, students in the intervention groups showed reductions in both reactive aggression (p = .002) and proactive aggression (p = .002) compared with students in the control group. An analysis conducted to compare aggression between the two intervention groups from completion of the core lessons to completion of the booster lessons indicated that there was no significant difference between the groups.

In the other study, schools were randomly assigned to a group implementing the intervention or to a control group in which schools conducted their usual activities. From pre- to posttest, no difference was found between the two groups on aggression. However, among students with high aggression scores at pretest, those receiving the intervention had reductions in proactive, but not reactive, aggression compared with those in the control group (p < .05).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1, Study 2
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 3.4 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 2: Problem-solving knowledge
Description of Measures Problem-solving knowledge was measured using the Problem-Solving Knowledge Questionnaire, a 16-item instrument developed by researchers for use in these studies. Items include multiple-choice questions, some of which require more than one answer (e.g., "Check all the ways your body may feel when you are angry"), as well as items that require students to write a response (e.g., "What are three levels of anger, from lowest to highest?"). Items are summed for a total possible score of 24, with higher scores indicating greater knowledge.
Key Findings In one study, schools were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a group providing the intervention with booster lessons, a group providing the intervention without booster lessons, or a control group in which schools conducted their usual activities. Data were collected at baseline, after completion of the core lessons, and after completion of the booster lessons. From baseline to completion of the core lessons, students in the intervention groups showed an increase in problem-solving knowledge compared with students in the control group (p = .0001). An analysis conducted to compare problem-solving knowledge between the two intervention groups from completion of the core lessons to completion of the booster lessons indicated that there was no significant difference between the groups.

In the other study, schools were randomly assigned to a group implementing the intervention or to a control group in which schools conducted their usual activities. From pre- to posttest, intervention group students had an increase in problem-solving knowledge compared with control group students (p < .01).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1, Study 2
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.9 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 3: Executive functioning
Description of Measures Executive functioning was measured using the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF)--Teacher Form, an 86-item questionnaire. For each item, teachers rate the student's functioning on a scale from 1 (never) to 3 (often). The instrument has two indices: the Behavioral Regulation Index (BRI), which assesses the ability to use inhibitory control to shift cognitive set and manage emotions and behavior, and the Metacognition Index (MI), which assesses ability to self-manage tasks and monitor performance. Lower scores indicate better performance.
Key Findings Schools were randomly assigned to a group implementing the intervention or to a control group in which schools conducted their usual activities. From pre- to posttest, no difference was found between the two groups on executive functioning. However, among students with high executive function scores at pretest (indicating lower functioning), those receiving the intervention had improvements in executive functioning as measured by the BRI (p < .01) and the MI (p < .05) compared with those in the control group (p < .05).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 2
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 3.5 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 4: Trait anger and anger expressed outwardly
Description of Measures Trait anger (generalized feelings of anger) and anger expressed outwardly were assessed using two subscales of the Anger Expression Scale for Children, a 30-item self-report questionnaire. Each item describes a child's feelings about and reactions to anger (e.g., "I get in a bad mood when things don't go my way," "I let everybody know it when I'm angry"). Responses are given on a 4-point scale ranging from 1 (almost never) to 4 (almost always). Higher scores indicate greater trait anger and anger expressed outwardly.
Key Findings Schools were randomly assigned to a group implementing the intervention or to a control group in which schools conducted their usual activities. From pre- to posttest, no difference was found between the two groups on anger. However, among students with higher pretest scores on trait anger and anger expressed outwardly, those receiving the intervention had decreases in trait anger (p < .01) and anger expressed outwardly (p < .01) compared with those in the control group.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 2
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 3.5 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 5: Social problem-solving orientation and style
Description of Measures Social problem-solving orientation and style were assessed using two subscales of the Social Problem-Solving Inventory--Revised, a 52-item self-report scale based on a 2-component model of problem solving. The first component is problem orientation, which focuses on metacognitive processes that reflect general awareness and appraisals of problems encountered in everyday life. One subscale within this component measures positive problem orientation. The second component, problem-solving style, focuses on four complex skills necessary to solve a problem successfully: problem definition and formulation, alternative solution generation, decisionmaking, and implementation of a solution and evaluation of its outcome. One subscale within this component measures rational problem solving style. For each item (e.g., "When making decisions, I try to predict the good and bad things that would happen for each solution," "After carrying out a solution, I check to see what went right and what went wrong"), responses range from 1 (not at all true) to 5 (extremely true).
Key Findings Schools were randomly assigned to a group implementing the intervention or to a control group in which schools conducted their usual activities. From pre- to posttest, intervention group students had improvements in social problem-solving orientation and style, as assessed by the positive problem orientation subscale (p < .05) and the rational problem solving style subscale (p < .05) compared with control group students.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 2
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 3.5 (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 6-12 (Childhood) 64.6% Male
35.4% Female
47.6% Black or African American
46.9% White
5.4% Hispanic or Latino
Study 2 6-12 (Childhood) 50.6% Female
49.4% Male
53.9% White
34.8% Black or African American
7.4% Hispanic or Latino
3.9% Race/ethnicity unspecified

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: Aggression 3.5 4.0 3.5 2.9 2.6 3.8 3.4
2: Problem-solving knowledge 2.1 2.0 3.5 2.9 3.1 3.8 2.9
3: Executive functioning 3.9 3.8 3.8 3.3 2.6 3.9 3.5
4: Trait anger and anger expressed outwardly 4.0 3.0 3.8 3.3 3.1 3.9 3.5
5: Social problem-solving orientation and style 3.5 3.8 3.8 3.3 3.1 3.9 3.5

Study Strengths

The measurement instruments used in the studies generally have good psychometric properties. Appropriate mechanisms, including scripting of study content and observation of selected study sessions, were put in place to maximize intervention fidelity. Data collected using instruments developed by the researchers indicate that intervention fidelity was very good, especially so in one of the studies. Attrition was low in both studies. Random assignment provided some control of potential confounding factors. The analytical strategies used addressed baseline differences and the clustering of participants within study sites.

Study Weaknesses

The Problem-Solving Knowledge Questionnaire lacks adequate evidence of reliability and validity. No detailed accounting of missing data was provided to explain differences in the number of study participants included in the analysis for each outcome measure. Teachers who implemented the intervention also conducted student assessments, introducing the potential for bias. The studies did not apply corrections for conducting multiple tests, thus increasing the probability of inflating the experiment-wide error rate.

Readiness for Dissemination
Review Date: July 2012

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.

Program Web site, http://education.ufl.edu/conflict-resolution/tools-for-getting-along-curriculum/

TFGA Instruments folder:

  • Gioia, G. A., Isquith, P. K., Guy, S. C., & Kenworthy, L. (2000). Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF)--Teacher Form. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
  • How-I-Feel-Questionnaire [Anger Expression Scale for Children]
  • KQ Problem Solving: What Do I Know? [Problem-Solving Knowledge Questionnaire]
  • Reactive-Proactive Aggression Scale
  • Smith, S. W., & Daunic, A. P. (2009). Technical report 15, Problem solving: What do I know? A technical report on the development of a curriculum-based knowledge questionnaire for the Tools for Getting Along curriculum. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida.
  • Social Problem-Solving Inventory--Revised (SPSI-R)

TFGA Training folder:

  • A Problem: Do Fences Make Good Neighbors?
  • Self-Talk: A Model
  • Teacher Helping Student Solve Problem
  • Teacher workshop training slides

TFGA Treatment Fidelity folder:

  • TFGA: Treatment Integrity Checklist
  • Tools for Getting Along Curriculum Check Lessons 1-11
  • Tools for Getting Along On-the-Spot Assessment

University of Florida. (2012). Tools for Getting Along: Teaching Students to Problem Solve. An anger management curriculum for upper elementary students [Binder]. Gainesville, FL: Author.

University of Florida. (2012). Tools for Getting Along: Teaching Students to Problem Solve [CD-ROM]. Gainesville, FL: Author.

Other materials:

  • Self Talk Model Video
  • On-the-Spot Assessments 1-3 training videos
  • School Counselor Testimony video
  • Tools for Getting Along description

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
3.3 2.8 3.5 3.2

Dissemination Strengths

The curriculum is well organized and easy for teachers to follow. Implementation materials (teacher presentations, handouts, and student worksheets) are arranged sequentially in the curriculum, allowing for ease of use. The developer uses several formats for training, including detailed PowerPoint slides, videos, and role-playing. The interactive training helps teachers understand the skills students are being asked to learn by practicing the skills themselves. The fidelity instruments measure both content and process integrity and include ratings of fidelity by an independent observer. Questionnaires and on-the-spot assessments are provided to assess student progress.

Dissemination Weaknesses

No document or manual is available that provides guidance for organizational readiness prior to implementation. The program materials and Web site lack detailed information regarding training, such as the options available, methods for accessing it, appropriate training participants, and the content and cost of the training. Limited guidance on the use of quality assurance and fidelity tools is provided.

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
Curriculum and quality assurance materials (includes curriculum checklists, fidelity checklists, teacher questionnaire, and on-the-spot assessments) $40 per set of hard copies or $35 per CD-ROM Yes
1- or 2-day training at University of Florida (includes curriculum in hard copy and quality assurance materials in hard copy or on CD-ROM) $150 per person per day for 10-15 participants No
On-site consultation $1,250 for 1 day or $2,000 for 2 days, plus travel expenses No
Replications

No replications were identified by the developer.

Contact Information

To learn more about implementation, contact:
Stephen W. Smith, Ph.D.
(352) 273-4263
swsmith@coe.ufl.edu

To learn more about research, contact:
Ann P. Daunic, Ph.D.
(352) 273-4263
adaunic@coe.ufl.edu

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