The Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP) is a universal, school-based intervention that focuses on character education and social and emotional learning. RCCP aims to teach children self-management, cooperation, and problem-solving skills and promote interpersonal effectiveness and intercultural understanding. Specific program objectives include (1) reducing violence and violence-related behavior, (2) promoting caring and cooperative behavior, (3) teaching students about life skills in conflict resolution and intercultural understanding, and (4) promoting a positive climate for learning in the classroom and school.
First developed as an initiative of the New York City public schools and Educators for Social Responsibility Metropolitan Area (now Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility), RCCP is characterized by a comprehensive, multiyear strategy for preventing violence and creating caring communities of learning to improve school success for all children. The intervention has two major components: (1) training and coaching of teachers to support them in implementing a curriculum in conflict resolution and intergroup understanding, and (2) delivery of that curriculum in classroom instruction for children provided by the trained teachers.
Childhood risk factors for becoming violent offenders are frequently experienced before adolescence and may include conduct problems, violence exposure, and social–cognitive processes (Aber, Jones, and Brown 2003). RCCP is based on the notion that early intervention strategies when children are forming patterns of behaviors and attitudes can mediate or reduce children’s risk for future development of aggressive, antisocial, or violent behavior.
Research also indicates that such behaviors are affected by such experiences as history of harsh parenting, failure to succeed in schools, or deviant peer environments where violence is normative, all of which increase the probability of aggression and violence by children. These potential causal mechanisms link early exposure to ecological risk with future developmental outcomes of aggression and violence (Aber, et al. 2003). As such, RCCP draws on developmental theory and research on patterns of youth violence and antisocial attitudes to help project children’s developmental trajectories or risk factors that can be identified and influenced. RCCP also incorporates components of social learning theory by using methods and skillsets that rely on observation and modeling to influence children’s behavior.
RCCP is taught by teachers who receive training from RCCP staff, including a 25-hour introductory training and ongoing coaching to support program implementation. A teacher’s role in the lessons is to facilitate student-directed discussions and learning. School administrators and peer mediators may also be involved in program implementation.
RCCP is structured into 51 lessons tailored to be developmentally appropriate for a given age group. The RCCP curriculum aims to develop several core skills, such as countering bias, resolving conflicts, fostering cooperation, appreciating diversity, communicating clearly, expressing feelings, and dealing with anger. The lessons are organized into skill units, structured in workshop format, and designed to last from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Students are taught active listening, assertiveness, negotiation, and problem solving through such methods as role playing, interviewing, small group discussions, and brainstorming.
RCCP also helps staff to establish peer-mediation programs, parent training workshops, and other school-wide initiatives that build student leadership in conflict resolution and intergroup relations. Schools can choose to incorporate other components of RCCP, including Peace in the Family workshops for parents that have an option of preparing them to become workshop leaders, and training for paraprofessionals, bus drivers, and security staff to help them learn skills they can use in their roles to contribute to a positive school culture.
6 to 13
The main and interaction effects of the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP) intervention components, specifically classroom instruction and teacher training and coaching, were tested in the Intervention Model (Model 3). For each of the targeted outcomes, results from the unconditional model indicated significant unexplained variation around the intercept, linear, and quadratic parameters. These results suggested that individual children varied significantly in each of the targeted outcomes in intercept, rates, and shape of change over time (across ages 6.0 to 12.5). Therefore, modeling the parameters of intercept, linear change, and curvilinear change was necessary to adequately understand children’s trajectories on these measures of social–emotional development. (Please note no model is preferred over another). Researchers also estimated the preintervention differences and growth over time while controlling for possible selection bias.
While the rates of changes observed at different ages did vary, intervention effects were for the most part consistent across different demographic groups. The trajectories were identical for nearly all subgroups of children as defined by their gender, race/ethnicity, and economic resources (as delineated by school lunch eligibility).
Overall, the authors observed three patterns of unconditional growth across the eight measures of social–emotional development. Late acceleration (positive curvilinear change) characterized the growth patterns for hostile attribution bias, aggressive interpersonal negotiation strategies, and teacher ratings of prosocial behavior. Steady increase (positive linear change) characterized the growth patterns for children’s reports of their conduct problems, and gradual deceleration (negative curvilinear change) best characterized children’s trajectories in competent interpersonal negotiation strategies, teachers’ reports of aggressive behavior, and children’s reports of aggressive fantasies and depressive symptoms.
Children’s Social–Cognitive Processes
Classroom instruction and teacher training and coaching significantly affected social cognitive processes, such that higher levels of classroom instruction were associated with lower levels of hostile attribution bias and aggressive strategies, and with higher levels of competent interpersonal strategies. In contrast, higher levels of teacher training and coaching were significantly associated with an increase in hostile attribution bias, aggressive strategies, and a decline in competent interpersonal strategies. (It should be noted that these findings were not consistent across all models.)
Higher levels of exposure to classroom instruction in the RCCP and lower levels of exposure to teacher training and coaching were related to significant reductions in conduct problems (linear main effects), depression (curvilinear main effects), and aggressive fantasies. Higher levels of classroom instruction relative to levels of teacher training and coaching were associated with relatively consistent levels of aggressive behavior and increases in prosocial behavior.
Teacher Perceptions of Child Behavior
More classroom instruction was associated with lower aggression and higher prosocial behavior in the average and linear models as perceived by teachers. Classroom instruction and exposure to RCCP lessons also directly predicted growth in math achievement and related to decreases in teacher perceptions of youth problem behavior.
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