Investigating: The Virtues Project™ effects in a preschool

This first ever quantitative research of a 20-year-old intervention used widely in 90 countries including more than 100 schools in Australia and New Zealand, introduced The Virtues Project™ (Popov, Popov, & Kavelin, 1995) into a preschool through 12 hours of staff training, and measured changes in children’s behaviour through direct observation at pre-intervention, during 3 months of implementation and at a 6-month follow-up. An AB single-subject design used 10-minute observations with high interobserver agreement of social, antisocial and shy/withdrawn behaviour to measure change replicated across 9 children (3 ½ - 4 yrs), 3 with externalising, 3 with shy/withdrawn and 3 without problem behaviours. Parent and teacher ratings using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) (Goodman, 1997) were collected pre-, post- and follow-up. The Virtues Project trains adults to use a “language of the virtues” to describe, model and create a culture of kindness, helpfulness, gentleness, respect, patience, excellence, curiosity and enthusiasm, to use teachable moments to acknowledge and describe character strengths, consequences and effects on others and to set clear boundaries using virtue words. Post-intervention data at 3 months showed all problem behaviours reduced to below clinical levels, with high and stable levels of social behaviour and at a 6-month follow-up, very long observations found virtually no antisocial behaviour in all 9 children. The time limits of a half-year credit Master’s dissertation did not allow direct measurement of teacher-child interaction as the likely mediating variable of child change. I will describe my planned PhD research, which will start to address these limitations by using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) (R. C. Pianta, K. M. La Paro, & B. K. Hamre, 2008) to measure teacher-child interactions of 500 children in 40 classrooms on 10 dimensions shown to create a culture of thinking and learning that has predicted child academic and social gains in US early education. I will also measure child engagement in learning opportunities through observations, teacher-ratings of child behaviour and teacher word use, to fully describe and measure classroom culture influencing child development. The PhD research will not use an intervention to change classroom culture, which would be the next step post-PhD.

-Derek Patton

(My publication)Posted: Monday, March 22, 2010 by dpatton
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