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Study Aims


Teachers with well-developed interpersonal skills are better prepared to manage student behavior effectively, de-escalate conflict situations, and build more positive relationships with students, parents, and colleagues (Hamre et al., 2013; Jennings & Greenberg, 2009). However, the field of education lacks a feasible and effective program to support the development of these skills among in-service teachers. Project RESPECT fills a critical need by providing the knowledge and skills teachers need to communicate and manage conflict effectively.  Typical classroom programs do not address the social emotional competencies of the teacher.  Communication training focuses on the techniques of the communicator but does not include social awareness and empathy training.  SEL programs are geared toward a student population and lack explicit instruction for effective communication.  Project RESPECT will develop teacher emotional support competencies ad teach explicit communication and conflict negotiation skills. By combining social-emotional skills development with explicit communication and conflict management skills, Project RESPECT can enhance teachers’ capacities to create emotionally supportive classroom environments conducive to student learning and teacher efficacy.

Project and Intervention Aims

The purpose of this three-year Goal 2 project is to:

(1)     develop a manualized program designed to teach in-service teachers the principles and skills of effective interpersonal communication and conflict management, including:

         (a)    strategies to promote social-emotional competence, specifically teacher self-awareness and self-

                 management during emotionally provocative situations;

         (b)    effective interpersonal communication strategies; and

         (c)     strategies to prevent and de-escalate conflict situations.

(2)     assess the feasibility and acceptability of program content and materials developed,

(3)     iteratively evaluate and revise core program content over the course of three development cycles,

(4)     determine the effectiveness of supplemental components, including:

         (a)    training in self-care,

         (b)    virtual role play applications,

         (c)     teacher coaching.

(5)     develop valid measures of program fidelity, and

(6)     conduct a pilot study to determine the effectiveness of the final version of the program.


All centers listed below are located on the Penn State campus, facilitating collaboration:

  • The Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center.
  • The Methodology Center.
  • Teaching and Learning with Technology Studio (TLT). 

Project Timeline

Project timeline