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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of a play-based social emotional learning program on problem behaviour and social responsibility Lyons, Alina Frances


A growing realization of the importance of addressing social–emotional, in addition to academic, development in schools highlights the importance of establishing an evidence base for SEL initiatives. The current study is an evaluation of one SEL initiative, Play Is The Way™ (McCaskill, 2011) which uses physically interactive games to promote social-emotional competencies and positive school climates. Play Is The Way™ was implemented in 5 classrooms of one elementary school. Five additional classrooms delayed implementation and served as comparison classrooms. Across the 10 Kindergarten through Grade 7 classrooms, 79 students were randomly selected and outcome measures were completed by teachers for those students before and after the intervention was implemented. Outcome measures included the Social Responsibility Quick Scale (British Columbia Ministry of Education, 2001), a measure of social responsibility, and the Behavior Assessment Scale for Children – Second Edition (Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004), a measure of problem behaviour. A mixed-effects analysis of variance was used to determine if there were increases in social responsibility and decreases in problem behaviour in implementing classrooms. Gender and grade were included as predictors. Significant interactions were found on the externalizing outcome variable, between treatment group and gender, and on both the externalizing and internalizing outcome variables, between treatment group and grade. Results do not clearly support the use of PITW to reduce externalizing and internalizing behaviours, or to increase social responsibility in elementary students. Effect sizes indicated medium reductions in externalizing behaviours for upper elementary students and for male students; medium increases in externalizing behaviours for female and upper elementary students; medium reductions in internalizing behaviours for upper elementary; and large increases in internalizing behaviours for lower elementary students. Effect sizes indicating medium increases in social responsibility in the treatment group. Limitations of the current study include that classrooms were not randomly assigned to conditions, measures were completed by classroom teachers who also implemented the program, fidelity information was not available, and baseline ratings on the BASC-2 indicated a lack significant challenges in the areas measured by outcome variables. Results are discussed in light of these limitations, and the implications for future research and practice.

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