Efficacy of the Responsive Classroom Approach: Results from a 3-Year, Longitudinal Randomized Controlled Trial
Issue/Topic: Social/Emotional Learning and Non-Cognitive Skills Instructional Approaches
Author(s): Rimm-Kaufman, Sara E.; Larsen, Ross A. A.; Baroody, Alison E.; Curby, Timothy W.; Ko, Michelle; Thomas, Julia B.; Merritt, Eileen G.; Abry, Tashia; DeCoster, Jamie
Organization(s): University of Virginia; George Mason University; Arizona State University
Publication: American Educational Research Journal
Published On: 5/16/2014
Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs help students develop social and emotional skills, like responsible decision-making and social awareness. Interest in SEL programs is increasing but little is known about their impact on student achievement. Responsive Classroom (RC) is a widely used SEL program emphasizing how teachers interact with students rather than what they teach, encouraging strategies to support children’s SEL skills and create a caring, well-managed classroom.
To examine the impact of a social and emotional learning (SEL) program (specifically the Responsive Classroom approach) on student achievement
- Generally, students in the classrooms receiving instruction using the Responsive Classroom (RC) program had about the same math and reading performance levels as students not receiving RC instruction.
- When teachers used the RC teaching methods exactly as intended, students showed academic gains.
- Using the RC instruction approach was linked to enhanced achievement in children who initially had low math achievement levels.
- Emphasizing and spending time on students' social and emotional learning did not diminish their achievement levels and, in a few cases when the RC program was used exactly as intended, students' achievement levels increased.
- Program implementation fidelity by teachers matters for the RC approach to be effective.
- Administrative support and buy in is important for SEL programs, as administrators can encourage quality implementation of the program in their schools.
Longitudinal randomized controlled trial
A cohort of 2,904 students and their teachers were studied from the end of second grade through fifth grade; students and teachers were from 24 schools, 13 intervention and 11 control, in one district.
Year data is from:
Data Collection and Analysis:
Analysis of a standardized math test (administered to the cohort at the end of second grade), the fifth-grade state standardized test, classroom observations, and yearly teacher surveys
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