Edge Enterprises, Inc.
Manual and CD
Edge Enterprises, Inc.
Manual and CD
The Talking Together Program is used to teach students how to participate respectfully in discussions. To test the effects of a CD program versus a videotaped program for instructing teachers in how to teach the Talking Together Program, a study was conducted with 30 general education teachers who taught a total of 570 students in grades 4 and 5. The teachers were randomly selected into one of three groups. Ten teachers worked through the CD program and the instructor’s manual (hereafter referred to as the “CD group”) to learn how to teach the Talking Together Program. Ten teachers (hereafter referred to as the “video group”) watched the videotape and read the manual. Ten teachers (hereafter referred to as the “manual group”) read the instructor’s manual only.
The purpose of the study was to determine the comparative effects of CD/manual combination, the video/manual combination, and the manual alone in terms of teacher and student outcomes. A posttest-only control-group design was used to determine the effects of the two methods of teacher instruction on teacher knowledge, implementation of the program, and quality of instruction. A pretest-posttest control-group design was used to compare teacher scores on their lecture delivery methods. A pretest-posttest control-group design was also used to determine the effects of the teachers’ instruction on student performance. Three types of analysis were used: a t-test, an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), and the general linear mixed model (GLMM). All outcome (dependent) variables used in these analyses were treated as continuous variables. All analyses were conducted using a level of significance (alpha) of .05.
The teachers’ implementation of the Talking Together Program was measured in the classroom after they had read the manual or worked through the CD and the manual or watched the video and read the manual. The mean percentage of instructional steps implemented by the CD group was 91%; the mean percentage of steps implemented by the video group was 90%; and the mean percentage of steps implemented by the manual group was 88%. There were no statistical differences among the groups.
The quality of the teachers’ instruction was measured by observers using a checklist that listed the components of quality instruction. The general linear mixed model approach revealed a significant difference between the three groups of teachers, F (1, 27) = 3.78, p = .036. The mean score for the CD group (M = 94%) was significantly higher than the mean score for the video group (M = 78%) (p = .014). The mean score for the CD group also was significantly higher than the mean for the manual group (M = 82%) (p = .054), although this probability value is slightly less than the .05 alpha level needed for significance. The mean score for the manual group did not differ significantly from the mean score for the video group.
The teachers’ behavior related to engaging students in discussions, providing opportunities for low-risk participation in discussions, and providing compliments to students during discussions was measured by observers using a checklist that corresponded to the instructions in the program on how to lead a discussion. See Figure 1 for the average number of participations per student in discussions in the different class groups.
Figure 1. Average number of participations per student during the pretest and posttest
The mean number of compliments the teachers gave students during discussions are shown in Figure 2. An ANCOVA revealed a significant difference between the groups after instruction when the pre-instruction scores were used as the covariate, F(2, 25) = 3.74, p = .038. Follow-up tests revealed that the CD group gave more compliments than the manual group (p = .020) and the video group (p = .037).
Figure 2. Mean Number of Teacher Compliments during Class Discussions
The three groups of teachers also took a written test of their knowledge of the Talking Together Program. An ANOVA revealed a significant difference between the mean scores of the groups, F (2, 27) = 9.74, p = .001 Follow-up analyses revealed that the CD group earned statistically higher scores (M = 79%) than the manual group (M = 49%) and the video group (62%). No difference was found between the scores of the manual group and the video group.
The CD group teachers completed a satisfaction questionnaire about the CD program. Their mean ratings on items on a 7-point Likert-type scale (with “7” indicating completely satisfied to “1” indicating completely dissatisfied) ranged from 6.4 to 6.8, with an overall mean rating of 6.6. The video group teachers completed a satisfaction questionnaire about the video program. Their mean ratings on individual items ranged from 5.8 to 6.3, with an overall mean rating of 6.6.
Teachers in all three groups completed a satisfaction questionnaire about the Talking Together Program. The manual group had an overall mean rating of 6.1, the video group had an overall mean rating of 6.2, and the CD group had an overall mean rating of 6.5.
The students in the three groups of classes took a written test of their knowledge about participating in discussions. Although all the groups’ mean scores increased from pre-intervention to post-intervention, no differences were found between the groups at posttest. (See Figure 3 for mean scores).
Figure 3. Mean pretest and posttest scores for the Student Knowledge Survey
Working through the CD professional development program combined with reading the manual produced better results in terms of teacher knowledge, quality of instruction, proportion of students involved in discussions, and number of compliments given by the teachers than does reading the manual alone or watching a videotape and reading the manual. Teachers in the CD group were satisfied with the CD software program; teachers in the video group were satisfied with the video program; and teachers all three groups were equally satisfied with the Talking Together Program.
Vernon, D.S. (2004). Effects of a professional development software program for the Talking Together program: Progress Report. SBIR Phase II #R44HD41819. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
D. Sue Vernon, Ph.D.
My Background and Interests
By wearing my different hats (a university instructor, a certified teaching-parent, a trainer and evaluator of child-care workers, a SIM professional development specialist, a parent of three children (one with exceptionalities), and a researcher), I have gained knowledge and experience from a number of perspectives. I have a history of working with at-risk youth with and without exceptionalities (e.g., students with learning disabilities, emotional disturbance, behavioral disorders) in community-based residential group-home treatment programs and in schools. I also have extensive experience with training, evaluating, and monitoring staff who work with these populations, and I have conducted research with and adapted curricula for high-poverty populations. In addition to the Talking Together program and other programs in the Community Building Series, I’ve developed and field-tested the Cooperative Thinking Strategies Series, interactive multimedia social skills curricula, communication skills instruction, and professional development programs. I have also developed and validated social skills measurement instruments. As a lecturer of graduate-level university courses in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas, I have taught courses designed to enable teachers to access and become proficient in validated research-based practices.
The Story Behind the Talking Together Professional Development CD
My focus for the last 30 years has been on helping at-risk youths, particularly in the area of learning and using social skills. My interest in social skills instruction began when I was a teaching-parent in a group home for adolescents who had a history of social problems. One of our major goals in our group home was to make it a safe, respectful place where the youths would feel connected and comfortable while they were learning skills to help them succeed socially and academically. As I watched their growing success, I wanted to find a way to introduce social skills instruction to more children as a way to prevent social problems. I thought the perfect place for this instruction would be in the general education classroom.
Later, as reported school-related tragedies seemed to increase in frequency and become more deadly, I became especially interested in developing ways to prevent bullying and also in ways to create a kinder, more positive classroom environment than was commonly found in public education. A common thread in many interviews with the perpetrators of school violence was not only that they suffered from being bullied most of their lives, but they also felt no connection to their school and the people (e.g., administrators, teachers, or other students) in it.
As a result, two lines of research were born. My first series of research studies focused on social interactions in cooperative groups and resulted in the Cooperative Thinking Strategies Series. The importance of creating a positive, productive learning community in the classroom was part of each program in this series, but teachers indicated that they would like more information about creating learning communities. They wanted their students to be tolerant and supportive, and they wanted a way to systematically teach those concepts and skills to the whole class. As educators, my colleagues and I wanted to help teachers build learning communities where all student learning is supported, especially the learning of students who struggle in school. Thus, we began work on a series of instructional programs focused on the classroom community. Those programs now comprise the Community-Building Series.
We developed and tested the first instructional program, Talking Together, in third-, fourth- and fifth-grade inclusive general education classrooms. We tested the program in those grades to ensure that young students could benefit from the instruction; however, the program has since been used successfully in secondary classrooms as well. Our goal was to develop a program that benefited students both with and without exceptionalities by helping them become engaged and connected learners within a positive, supportive environment. During Talking Together instruction, students learn how to participate in class discussions respectfully and how to support one another. They learn concepts and skills related to controlling their own behavior and expressing respect and kindness towards others. The Talking Together program is the first in the series and is a prerequisite to the other Community-building Series programs. The skills and concepts taught in these programs are foundational to communication within communities, in general, and can be used by students throughout their lives.
Once the Talking Together Program was developed and shown to be effective, we wanted to provide an inexpensive way for teachers to learn how to use the program. Thus, the Talking Together Professional Development CD was born. It contains step-by-step instructions on how to teach the Talking Together lessons along with videoclips of a teacher teaching the lessons.
My Thoughts About Community-Building Instruction
I have observed the Talking Together program being used successfully with different populations in elementary and middle schools and in group-home settings. I’m always thrilled to see how quickly students can learn to participate together in discussions and treat each other in civil and kinds ways after just a few lessons. I believe the program can be adapted to a variety of settings. For example, when teaching my university classes, we discuss the community that we will create in class, and we specify characteristics that should “always” and “never” be present (that list typically includes some mention of cell phones!). While the community expectations for my college classes are framed differently than the examples in Talking Together, the principles and concepts are nonetheless as important at the university level as they are on the elementary level.
Teacher and Student Feedback about the Talking Together Program
Talking Together is one of our most popular programs. During the summer, I encountered one of my fifth-year general-education teachers in-training from the previous semester who had studied the Talking Together program for a class assignment. She reported that her knowledge of the Talking Together program and my emphasis on learning communities was the key to a local school district’s decision to hire her. Apparently, a major part of the interview involved how she would set up a learning community in her class if hired! Another exciting comment was from a researcher a couple of years ago. He mentioned that as part of a research project in which he was involved, the staff at a middle school implemented the Talking Together program school-wide. The data he collected reflected a dramatic decrease in student disciplinary referrals when the prior year was compared to the years following Talking Together instruction. The staff gave considerable credit to the Talking Together program.
Many teachers at different grade levels have reported that they have successfully used the program. Example teacher comments include, “Teaching a theme of respect, tolerance, and support was excellent. We often expect kids to just magically know how to behave in these ways, but many need to be specifically taught and given chances to practice,” “I loved how the students responded to each other. I feel this program helped them realize the strength of their classmates,” “Many students commented that they wished we had done the program earlier in the year because it taught them how to work with a partner,” “These community-building lessons are for LIFE,” and “I think the program ideals are so valuable to today’s students. They no longer come to school with the values of students in the past…The lessons provide students with a background essential for a quality classroom environment.”
Examples of student comments include, “The program helped me understand people better,” “Before participating in Talking Together, I didn’t like participating in class discussion, but now I do,” and “I am so satisfied with how safe I feel in class. The program actually changed my life.”
My Contact Information
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org