Abstract: Changes in Disruptive Behavior Mediated By Social Competency: Testing the STARS Theory of Change in a Randomized Sample of Elementary Students (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

335P Changes in Disruptive Behavior Mediated By Social Competency: Testing the STARS Theory of Change in a Randomized Sample of Elementary Students

Friday, January 14, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Anna Kim, MPA, Doctoral Student, University of Missouri-Columbia, MO
Tanya Weigand, MSW, Lcsw, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
The vast majority of children show difficulties with attention, self-management, and disruptive behaviors which often interfere with their academic and social functioning. Disruptive behaviors can also lead to referrals for special education services, and in turn, shape poor distal outcomes, such as being retained and dropping out of school. However, these negative consequences can be prevented with effective school-based interventions and supports. The purpose of this paper is to examine the positive impact of STARS (Self-Management Training and Regulation Strategy) participation on disruptive classroom behavior and explore the hypothesized mediating program targets, which include autonomous self-control, social competency, and relationships. The theory of change of STARS, informed by self-determination theory (SDT), was investigated to increase autonomy, social competence, and relationships as a way to improve disruptive classroom behaviors. SDT proposes that the developments of self-managed, self-regulated, and intrinsically motivated behaviors is involved in three main intrinsic needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Using a classroom block randomized design in six urban schools, the current study replied on the responses of 42 teachers who screened 762 fourth- and fifth-grade students to identify 108 students ( age = 10.3 years, range: 8.8–11.8 years) with elevated levels of teacher-rated disruptive behavior. These students were randomly placed in either the STARS (n = 60) or a control condition (n = 48). A path model revealed that STARS students experienced significant changes in posttest assessments of disruptive classroom behavior (d = .46) and in the key program targets of perceived autonomy, social competence, and student-teacher relationships. Social competence mediated posttest changes in disruptive classroom behavior. In summary, exposure to STARS was associated with positive and significant direct change in all three theorized program targets, but changes in teacher-rated disruptive behaviors was explained by improvements in social competence. Findings indicated that providing social competence training, using structured and formative feedback sessions, and providing increased opportunities for struggling students to practice skills leads to improvements in challenging classroom behaviors.