Program Goals/Target Population
I Can Problem Solve (ICPS) is a school-based prevention program that trains children in generating a variety of solutions to problems, considering and understanding the possible consequences of those solutions, and recognizing thoughts, feelings, and motives that can lead to problem situations. ICPS is designed for young children, typically around the ages of 4 to 12, who are of lower and middle socioeconomic status, live in principally urban and rural settings, from multiple ethnic groups, and may be at risk for behavioral dysfunctions and interpersonal maladjustment. The program was created to encourage critical thinking, cognitive processing, and problem solving in young children, based on the principle of teaching "how to think" rather than "what to think."
The ICPS curriculum consists of 3 manuals: Preschool (59 lessons); Kindergarten/Primary grades (Kindergarten through Grade 2, 83 lessons); and Intermediate Elementary Grades (Grade 3 through Grade 6, 77 lessons). These individual 20- to 40-minute lessons are integrated into all teaching areas. Each lesson has a stated purpose, suggested material, and script teachers use to guide the class. Ideally, lessons are delivered between three and five times a week. Lessons encourage children to be creative in finding solutions, and to develop a habit of problem solving and contemplating those solutions and potential consequences. The program includes both formal lessons and specific suggestions for incorporating ICPS principles into daily classroom activities. Early lessons focus on word concepts and pre-problem-solving skills to understand and recognize other people’s feelings. The lessons that follow aim to help children identify their feelings and the feelings of others, with later lessons using role playing and "dialoguing" to enhance their problem-solving skills. The teacher can strictly follow the lesson plan or be creative with content, as long as the concepts of the lesson are taught. These concepts can also be incorporated into academic subjects, such as reading and math. Various techniques and tools including games, puppets, role playing, and stories are used in lessons throughout the course. In addition, teachers and other school personnel learn how to use the problem solving approach (called "ICPS Dialoguing") outside of the formal lessons. Dialoguing guides children to use their newly acquired problem solving skills when problems occur in real life.
The ICPS intervention requires a qualified and trained teacher to implement the program within his or her classroom. It also requires a lesson guide to lead the classroom through the program.
4 to 12
Shure and Spivack (1982) found that children in the treatment group had significantly greater interpersonal problem-solving scores compared with the control group. This gain was maintained at the 1-year follow-up as seen in the nursery school trained children.
Children in the treatment group had significantly different consequence scores (as measured by the What Happens Next Game) compared with the control group. These gains were maintained at the 1-year follow-up as seen in the nursery school trained children.
Children in the treatment group demonstrated significantly greater adjustment and improved interpersonal behavior as measured by teachers when compared with the control group. This gain was maintained at the 1-year follow-up as seen in the nursery school trained children.
Kumpfer and colleagues (2002) found the I Can Problem Solve (ICPS) intervention had a rather large and significant effect (effect size=1.32) on the scores for social bonding among treatment group children, compared with children in the control group.
There were no significant differences between scores for social competence of the treatment group and the control group after the 1-year intervention.
The ICPS intervention had a moderate and significant effect (effect size=.46) on self-regulation scores for treatment group children, compared with children in the control group.
The study by Boyle and Hassett–Walker (2008) showed that after 1 year of intervention, the treatment group scored significantly higher in both teacher-rated behavior scales than the control group. Additionally, the group that received 2 years of the intervention showed even more substantial effects. These findings indicate the program resulted in improved behavior of participants in the treatment group compared with the control group.