Research Projects

Back to Projects List

Testing the Efficacy of INSIGHTS for Promoting Positive Learning Environments and Academic Achievement in Nebraska: A Replication Study

Research Team

Name Name Name

Principal Investigator: Gwen Nugent

Co-Principal Investigators: Susan Sheridan, James Bovaird

Funding Information

Funding Agency: Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

Award Date: Jul 1, 2018

End Date: Jun 30, 2022


INSIGHTS is a temperament-based emotional and behavioral skills intervention that has been found in a previous Institute of Education Sciences efficacy trial to reduce disruptive behavior, improve attention skills, and improve reading and math achievement of economically disadvantaged children.

Despite promising evidence, no trials of the efficacy of INSIGHTS have been conducted outside of inner-city New York, leaving in question the applicability of the program to other community settings. This study aims to replicate the efficacy of INSIGHTS with a different sample and in a different context.

Research will be conducted in 30 elementary schools — 15 INSIGHTS, 15 control — in rural areas in eastern and central Nebraska. Study participants will include approximately 630 children and their parents out of 2,070 children enrolled in either treatment or controlled schools in kindergarten. Children will be enrolled in 90 kindergarten classrooms, and move on to 90 first-grade classrooms, so 180 kindergarten and first-grade teachers will participate.

This study uses a cluster-randomized design with three kindergarten cohorts of 10 schools each, recruited in 2018, 2019 and 2020. In each cohort, schools will be randomly assigned to receive INSIGHTS or serve as a control school after participants have been recruited and baseline data collected.

Four subsequent assessment points will be:

  • after intervention at the end of kindergarten
  • at the beginning of Grade 1
  • after the Grade 1 intervention mid-academic year, and
  • at the end of Grade 1.

INSIGHTS intervention will be delivered to children during class time once a week for 10 weeks in kindergarten and Grade 1. Teachers use puppets and drama therapy techniques with children to teach that based on temperament, various situations may be easy for some individuals, while other situations may be more challenging. Children and their classmates engage the puppets in daily dilemmas to enhance empathy and problem-solving skills. 

Parents will receive the intervention in six sessions during the same 10-week period as the classroom intervention. Teachers and parents learn temperament-based strategies intended to reduce the behavior problems of school-age children, support their competencies and enhance their ability to self-regulate.

Standardized instruments and observational tools will assess children’s achievement, readiness, regulation, temperament, behavior and family resources, as well as teacher efficacy and classroom quality.

Early Education & Development, Psychosocial Development & Social-Emotional Learning, Rural Education & Communities, Academic Intervention & Learning

From left, Kathleen Rudasill, professor of educational psychology and associate dean for research and faculty development at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Gwen Nugent, CYFS research professor, introduce children to a few of the puppet characters of INSIGHTS.
Project Websites
News Articles Videos Photo Gallery