There are ample evidence that social-emotional learning programs support behavioral and academic outcomes in students. However, few studies have looked at the “who” and “why” that make these programs work. In a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, implementation variability and participant risk status were examined as predictors of disruptive behavior outcomes. In this large cluster randomized controlled trial, seventy-seven English primary schools (N = 3,084 children, aged 6–7) were assigned to either receive the Good Behavior Game or to continue with business-as-usual. The Good Behavior Game is a universal behavior management intervention that encourages students to monitor their behavior in return for tangible rewards.
Due to the clustered nature of the data, hierarchical linear models were fitted to the data. This study used intent-to-treat as well as complier average causal effects samples to compare findings between the two. Interestingly, intent-to-treat analysis found no discernible impact of the intervention on children’s disruptive behavior. However, complier average causal effect estimation (using dosage as a compliance marker) found a large, statistically significant intervention effect (ES = -1.35) among compliers who spent at least 1,030 minutes using the Good Behavior Game over two years.
Moreover, the effect among compliers varied by students’ risk factors. Students with a high number of behavioral risk factors improved more with increased exposure (β = .41,) and less with decreased exposure than students not at risk (β = .22). This study highlights the value in the whole class playing games such as the Good Behavior Game, even solely for the benefit of a few students who are most at risk.
Source: Humphrey, N., Panayiotou, M., Hennessey, A., & Ashworth, E. (2021). Treatment effect modifiers in a randomized trial of the good behavior game during middle childhood. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 89(8), 668–681. https://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000673