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A Randomized Trial of Conjoint Behavioral Consultation (CBC) in Rural Educational Settings: Efficacy for Elementary Students with Disruptive Behaviors

Research Team

Name Name Name

Principal Investigator: Susan Sheridan

Co-Principal Investigators: Amanda Witte, James Bovaird, Gina Kunz, Todd Glover

Funding Information

Funding Agency: Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

Award Date: Jul 1, 2010

End Date: Jun 30, 2015


Children with social-behavioral problems early in their school careers are at high risk of developing long-term, pervasive, intractable problems. Conjoint Behavioral Consultation (CBC) is an indirect intervention that allows for individuation of parent- and teacher-delivered behavior plans that are grounded in ecological-behavioral theory, supported by empirical evidence, and implemented across multiple settings to ensure the intensity and continuity in programming necessary for students with behavioral problems. Ample evidence for the efficacy of CBC exists, including experimental designs and randomized trials in urban and suburban school settings. 

However, schools in rural settings struggle to access specialized services, including consultation and parent involvement programs. Most teachers indicate that supporting children’s behavioral and mental health needs are part of their role, but they feel unprepared to meet the educational needs of students with behavioral problems. Enhancing the availability of and access to supports, for both teachers and parents in rural schools, represents one means of augmenting the quality of education in rural settings. 

This project is designed to test the efficacy of CBC in rural Nebraska elementary schools. Researchers aim to determine if CBC — shown to produce a net positive impact for K-3 students exhibiting disruptive classroom behaviors in urban settings — will produce similar effects in rural settings where resources for specialized behavioral supports are few, and interactions between families and schools are less frequent.

The study uses a randomized experimental design to evaluate the efficacy of CBC on student, parent and teacher outcomes. Participants include 144 teachers of rural students in grades K-3. Teachers have been randomly assigned to the CBC intervention or the control condition. Within each classroom, 2-3 students demonstrating elevated levels of disruptive behaviors have been selected for participation. A total of 246 students and their parents are serving as participants. Students receive services consistent with the condition within which their teacher is assigned; thus, they are respectively assigned to either the CBC intervention condition or the “business as usual” control condition. 

The sample for this study is organized into four cohorts over four years, and both the immediate and long-term effects of CBC will be evaluated.

Research, Measurement and Evaluation Methods, Social, Emotional and Behavioral Well-being, Academic Intervention & Learning

From left, Susan Sheridan, CYFS director and principal investigator; Amanda Witte, CYFS research assistant professor and co-investigator; and graduate student Samantha Angell
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