A Randomized Trial of Conjoint Behavioral Consultation (CBC) in Rural Educational Settings: Efficacy for Elementary Students with Disruptive Behaviors


Project Information

Principal Investigator: Susan Sheridan
Co-Principal Investigator: Gina Kunz, Todd Glover, James Bovaird
Funding Agency: USDOE/IES
Award Date:
Theme: Families & Schools, Research Methodology
Project URL: http://ruralcbc.unl.edu

For more information please contact Susan Sheridan at ssheridan2@unl.edu.

Abstract

Children with social-behavioral problems early in their school careers are at high risk of developing long-term, pervasive, intractable problems. Conjoint Behavioral Consultation (CBC) is an indirect intervention that allows for individuation of parent- and teacher-delivered behavior plans that are grounded in ecological-behavioral theory, supported by empirical evidence, and implemented across multiple settings to ensure the intensity and continuity in programming necessary for students with behavioral problems. Ample evidence for the efficacy of CBC exists, including small-n experimental designs and randomized trials in urban and suburban school settings. 

However, schools in rural settings struggle to access specialized services, including consultation and parent involvement programs. Most teachers indicate that supporting children’s behavioral and mental health needs are part of their role, but they feel unprepared to meet the educational needs of students with behavioral problems. Enhancing the availability of and access to supports, for both teachers and parents in rural schools, represents one means of augmenting the quality of education in rural settings. 

The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of CBC in rural Nebraska elementary schools. We will determine if CBC––shown to produce a net positive impact for K-3 students exhibiting disruptive classroom behaviors in urban settings––will produce similar effects in rural settings where resources for specialized behavioral supports are few, and interactions between families and schools are less frequent.  Given our long-term goal of determining the effectiveness of CBC in natural educational settings, there is a need to ensure its efficacy in diverse geographic educational contexts. This study represents an important next step along a line of systematic CBC research that will result in broad-based, scale-up efforts.

We are using a randomized experimental design to evaluate the efficacy of CBC on student, parent and teacher outcomes. 144 teachers of students grades K-3 in rural school settings are participating in the study. Teachers have been randomly assigned to the CBC intervention or the control condition. Within each classroom, 2-3 students demonstrating elevated levels of disruptive behaviors have been selected for participation. A total of 246 students and their parents are serving as participants. Students receive services consistent with the condition within which their teacher is assigned; thus, they are respectively assigned to either the CBC intervention condition or the “business as usual” control condition. 

The sample for this study is being recruited in four cohorts over four years, and both the immediate and long-term effects of CBC will be evaluated. The study’s dependent variables include student behavior and academic functioning, parent/teacher beliefs and practices, and the parent-teacher relationship. Parent and teacher rating scales, direct observations of student behavior, and permanent products generated from parents, teachers, and consultants will be collected. Mediation and moderation will be explored to determine mechanisms by which CBC exerts its influence and to determine the implementation conditions influencing its effects. The statistical analyses for this project incorporates cross-sectional multilevel models, which allows us to simultaneously examine the influence of the treatment and important covariates, while appropriately accounting for the nested structure of the data.