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Do reinforcement and induction increase prosocial behavior? Results of a teacher-based intervention in preschools.

Abstract. Teachers were trained to use reinforcement and induction to increase prosocial behavior in a sample of 98 children in Head Start-affiliated preschools, using a peer coaching model. There was one control group and three intervention groups: reinforcement-only, induction-only, and reinforcement-and-induction. Results indicated that the intervention groups showed a significant increase in total classroom prosocial behavior compared to the control group. The induction-only group increased dramatically in affection. The reinforcement-only group increased more in helping, sharing, and cooperation than in affection and comforting. Teacher behaviors in the classroom did not reflect conclusively that they were using the intervention strategies, possibly due to inadequate measurement.


Prosocial behavior is any behavior that benefits others, such as sharing, cooperating, including others in play, complimenting, and comforting others. Young children can display a rich repertoire of prosocial behaviors as early as age 2 (Bergin, Bergin, & French, 1995). Some children engage in more prosocial behavior than others, and some children engage in more antisocial behavior than others. These individual differences appear early and remain fairly stable (Grusec, 1991; Ostrov & Crick, 2007). One study even found that sharing in preschool predicted prosocial behavior 19 years later (Eisenberg et al., 1999). These individual differences have important consequences for children, including success in school.

Prosocial behavior predicts academic achievement and social adjustment in school. Prosocial children score higher on school readiness tests (Palermo, Hanish, Martin, Fabes, & Reiser, 2007) and have higher grades and test scores from 1st grade to high school (Caprara, Barbaranelli, Pastorelli, Bandura, & Zimbardo, 2000; Miles & Stipek, 2006; Wentzel, 1993). This probably happens because academic achievement depends on positive relationships with teachers and peers, as well as active engagement in the classroom, both of which may result from prosocial behavior (Coolahan, Fantuzzo, Mendez, & McDermott, 2000). Prosocial children are more likely to show interest in schoolwork, work independently, take turns, pay attention, listen, and stay on task (McClelland & Morrison, 2003). Prosocial children also have better cognitive self-control; they tend to plan, evaluate, problem-solve, and focus their attention better than their peers (Normandeau & Guay, 1998). Prosocial children are more popular with their peers and teachers (Ladd & Burgess, 2001). Teachers prefer a classroom filled with kind, polite, and cooperative children. Peers' liking of prosocial children holds true from preschool through secondary school (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 1996; Denham, McKinley, Couchoud, & Holt, 1990).

This research suggests that fostering prosocial behavior in children should be a high priority for educators (Raver & Knitzer, 2002). This may be particularly important in early childhood settings, because children who establish positive relationships as they begin school are more likely to have longterm success in school (Hughes, Luo, Kwok, & Loyd, 2008). It may also be particularly important for poor, ethnic minority children. In a large study of 25,000 students, prosocial behavior more strongly predicted academic success for minority than for majority children (Griffith, 2002). In another study, poor lst-graders from unstable homes developed fewer problems if they were in highly prosocial classrooms (Hoglund & Leadbeater, 2004). This is noteworthy, because generally children attending schools with high rates of poverty develop more behavior and emotional problems across the school year.

Preschool classrooms provide many opportunities for fostering prosocial behavior. However, preschool teachers do not always seize upon these opportunities (Hay, 1994), despite rating prosocial skills as critical for school success (Lane, Stanton-Chapman, Jamison, & Phillips, 2007). This article reports on an intervention to help teachers implement two strategies that foster prosocial behavior in the preschool classroom--reinforcement and induction. These strategies were selected because past research has suggested they foster prosocial behavior.


Induction is a form of discipline in which children are given reasons for changing their misbehavior. A particularly important form of induction is victim-centered induction, in which the adult points out how the child's behavior has made someone else feel. For instance, the teacher may tell a child that refusing to share a toy with another child will hurt the feelings of the other child, while at the same time encouraging the child to think about ways to solve the problem, such as taking turns to play with the toy. When a teacher uses induction, the child learns about acceptable standards of behavior and stores this information to use in a later situation. The child also learns to give priority to the feelings of others (McGrath, Wilson, & Frasetto, 1995). The child also learns to be sympathetic to others, which may lead to prosocial behavior (Denham, 2007; Findlay, Giardi, & Coplan, 2006; Palermo et al., 2007; Trommsdorff, Friedmeier, & Mayer, 2007). Children who are disciplined with induction are more likely to be prosocial, empathic and kind to others, and less emotionally negative (Bergin, 1987; Krevans & Gibbs, 1996; Paulussen-Hoogeboom, Stams, Hermanns, & Peetsma, 2007). In the present study, we trained teachers to use induction during discipline encounters.


A basic premise of behaviorism is that reinforcement increases the likelihood of behavior, because the behavior becomes associated with positive consequences. Indeed, in a brief intervention (one month), wherein teachers reinforced children with a star for reporting a prosocial act that could be verified by a peer (like sharing, helping, and cooperating with a peer), such reinforcement was effective in increasing prosocial behavior (Honig & Pollack, 1990). Furthermore, it was more effective than instructing children to be prosocial. However, tangible rewards can sometimes undermine intrinsic motivation. Tangible rewards tend to increase prosocial behavior in the short run, but may decrease their incidence in later free-choice situations (Fabes, Fultz, Eisenberg, MayPlumlee, & Christopher, 1989). Tangible rewards are not used much in natural settings, but social reward--such as praise--is (Grusec, 1982). Praise is associated with increased prosocial behavior, if the praise comes from a respected adult (Mussen & Eisenberg, 2001).

Although it promotes a positive classroom climate in schools, positive reinforcement is not used often and not used efficiently in many classrooms (Hardman & Smith, 2003). Perhaps this is due to a tendency for teachers to focus on negative, rather than positive, behavior (Maag, 2001). In the present study, we trained teachers to reinforce positive behavior using social rewards, like a compliment or a pat on the back.

Comparing Induction and Reinforcement

Induction is a cognitive strategy, which should foster prosocial behavior by building empathy and perspective-taking in children, as well as by coaching alternative behaviors during discipline encounters. Reinforcement should foster prosocial behavior by offering positive consequences. Thus, induction focuses primarily on a cognitive/affective change in the child's behavior, while reinforcement focuses primarily on a behavioral change. Furthermore, induction occurs in response to a child's aggressive behavior, whereas reinforcement occurs in response to spontaneous prosocial behavior. Thus, these two strategies for fostering prosocial behavior in children are quite different. It is not clear from previous research which should be most effective. This is one of the first studies to compare the strategies in similar child care settings, using a similar peer coaching method of training.

Peer Coaching

In the present study, teachers were trained to use either reinforcement, or induction, or both, using peer coaching from the first author, who acted as a consultant. While peer coaching has most often been used to help teachers more effectively teach cognitive and language skills (Koballa et al., 1992), there is indication that it is effective for teaching social interaction skills (Brown, McEvoy, & Bishop, 1991). Pre-kindergarten children are likely to benefit from an intervention using a teacher-consultation approach to social skills training (Han, Catron, Weiss, & Marciel, 2005).

In the present study, the teacher met with the peer consultant to review typical incidents in the classroom that revolved around children's prosocial and aggressive behavior. Discussions in these sessions centered on the teacher's response (use of induction and reinforcement) to these incidents and how these responses could be more effective. The peer coaching sessions included modeling, recording, feedback, discussion and sharing, feedback and theory presentation (Klein & Kontos, 1993; Koballa et al., 1992), with respect to prosocial behavior.

The primary hypothesis of this study is that the three intervention groups (reinforcement-only, induction-only, and reinforcement-and-induction) will be significantly higher in the prosocial behaviors than in the control group at the end of the intervention.



This study uses a quasi-intervention nonequivalent comparison group pretest-posttest design. There were three intervention groups--reinforcement-only, induction-only, reinforcement-and-induction--and one control group, making a total of four groups. The study began with two classrooms in each of the four groups, but one classroom in the reinforcement-and-induction group dropped out of the study, because the teacher had medical problems and could not participate in the study after the fifth week.


Teacher and Classrooms. The study took place in a midwestern city. Eleven teachers of Head Start-affiliated child care settings were invited to participate. As per Head Start guidelines, the classrooms served economically disadvantaged families and focused on early math and reading skills. Each classroom had differentiated play areas, and schedules included free play, group activities, outside play, meals, and an afternoon nap. One teacher declined to participate. Eight teachers were selected from the remaining pool of 10 teachers, who agreed to participate based on the closest matches for variables presented in Table 1. Five of the eight teachers had a child development associate (CDA) degree, which is awarded after a year's training in early childhood development. The minimum qualification for this degree is a high school diploma. Each teacher was paid $50 for participation.

Children. A total number of 98 children (50 girls and 48 boys) were in the eight classrooms at the beginning of the study. The children were between 3 and 5 years of age. There were 81 (83%) African American, 15 (15%) white, and 2 (2%), and Latino children.


The eight classrooms were randomly assigned to one of the four groups. Baseline scores were obtained. The intervention was implemented for about two months, after which post-test scores were obtained. All the intervention classes were assessed for intervention implementation at the end of the second week to establish baseline rates and again at the end of the third week of intervention to check for criterion implementation, based on the TAII (described below). A 25% increase in use of intervention strategies over the baseline was the designated criterion for intervention implementation. Teachers were unaware of this criterion. All classes, except one, reached criterion levels of implementation at the end of the third week, and intervention lasted for an additional four weeks for these groups. Thus, all but one of the intervention classes had an intervention for seven weeks. One class in the reinforcement-only group only reached criterion level at the end of the fourth week and received four weeks of intervention afterward. Thus, the intervention lasted for eight weeks for this class.


Observational Measure of Prosocial Incidents (OMPI). This investigator-generated tally sheet was used to record five categories of prosocial behaviors: helping, comforting, affection, cooperation, and sharing. Bergin, Bergin, and French (1995) identified these categories of behavior as particularly salient in 2- to 5-year-olds, using a prototype approach in naturalistic settings. These five prosocial behaviors overlap with behaviors in other studies of young children using time sampling observations (Babcock, Hartle,& Lamme, 1995). To operationalize each of the five prosocial behaviors, the investigator spent four hours in a child care setting to observe prosocial behavior. Definitions for each of the five target prosocial behaviors are presented in Table 2. Teacher-directed behaviors, such as when the teacher asked children to share, were not recorded as prosocial acts. Ambiguous behaviors were not recorded as prosocial behavior.

Prosocial behavior was tallied for all the children in the classroom during free play, using event sampling. The event sampling procedure has been used in other studies of prosocial behavior (Denham, 1986). At pretest, before the observation began, the teacher briefly introduced the observer to the children. Observers were blind to the hypotheses of the study and the identity of the intervention and control groups. The observer waited until the children no longer appeared affected by her presence. Then the observer arbitrarily divided the room into different areas (3 to 4) of activity and observed each area for an equal time period. The total period of observation for the entire class was one hour. If there was an interruption in the observation (such as a parent dropping in or the teacher making an announcement), the observer started the observation all over again. Each incident of the five prosocial behaviors was tallied when engaged in by any child in the classroom. Scores were represented by a simple summary of tallies for each of the five prosocial behaviors.

Two observers were trained in four different child care centers using simultaneous observations of prosocial behavior of 15 individual children. Observers resolved discrepancies through discussion, such as whether observations were based on the same discrete behaviors. The training took place in preschool settings until a satisfactory inter-rater agreement (92%) was reached. Inter-rater agreement was calculated by dividing the number of agreements by the number of opportunities to agree and multiplying the result by 100. Furthermore, two classes (25%) were observed simultaneously by the observers to check rater agreement in the pretest phase. Inter-rater agreement was 89%. A rater agreement check before the posttest phase indicated satisfactory rater agreement (90%).

Observational Measure of Teacher Behavior (OMTB). Observers tallied teacher reinforcement and induction behaviors before and after intervention. Observations took place during free-play activities. There were five items: 1) verbal reinforcement, 2) physical reinforcement, 3) problem-solving suggestions in response to an aggressive act, 4) pointing out to the aggressive child that his/her behavior did not solve the problem, and 5) explanations that focused the aggressive child's attention on the feelings of the other person. Items 1 and 2 measured teachers' use of reinforcement in response to child prosocial behavior, and items 3 to 5 measured teachers' use of induction in response to child aggression. Each teacher behavior was recorded separately. Thus, if a teacher praised a child and also hugged the child, this was counted as verbal and physical reinforcement. If a behavior was repeated, it was counted again, but if the same behavior continued without interruption, it was counted only once. If the child's prosocial behavior was ambiguous, the teacher's response was not recorded.

The observers were blind to the hypotheses of the study and the identity of the intervention and control groups, and were different from those recording prosocial behaviors of the children. To establish agreement, the two observers simultaneously recorded behaviors of six different teachers for 30 minutes each. After each period of observation, the investigator discussed the scores with the observers to resolve discrepancies. Inter-rater agreement for the training sessions was 88%. In addition, inter-rater agreement of 93% was obtained between the two observers during the pretest period based on simultaneous observation of two of the eight teachers (25%). A rater agreement check before the posttest phase also indicated satisfactory rater agreement (89%).

Teacher Assessment of Intervention Implementation (TAII). Teachers were asked for their perception of how they were using the intervention in order to check for intervention implementation. In the fourth week of intervention, teachers rated, on a 5-point scale, 1) the ease with which they implemented the intervention, 2) how often they used the intervention, 3) the amount of change they saw in the children because of the intervention, 4) how well they were able to use the intervention, 5) how useful the intervention strategies were in dealing with children's behavior within the classroom, and 6) how well they understood the strategies. The items for this scale were derived from the work of Yeaton and Sechrest (1981). The total score for the six items could range from 6 to 30, with higher scores indicating successful program implementation.


In the first week of intervention, the first author spent about an hour in each of the classrooms in the intervention groups in order to get to know the setting, the teachers, and the children in the classroom. In the second week, the intervention strategies were introduced to the teachers in the different intervention groups. From the second week of the intervention to the fourth week of intervention, the first author modeled the intervention strategies in the intervention classes so that those teachers became familiar with the intervention strategies. Peer coaching continued until the end of the intervention. In the latter sessions, teachers reported on situations in the classroom wherein they used the intervention strategy and discussed how the strategy could be made more effective. The investigator met with each teacher, once every week, for 45 minutes to an hour. The investigator did not spend time in the comparison classes.

Reinforcement-only Group. Training sessions focused on immediately responding to acts of prosocial behavior by using some kind of verbal or physical reinforcement. Two vignettes were used to introduce the strategy. The first vignette involved a child spontaneously offering to help the teacher to hand out crayons. The second vignette involved a child sharing a blanket with another child. After the two vignettes were presented, the teacher was asked to practice encouraging these behaviors in similar situations in the classroom. In the following session, the teacher was asked to report situations in which she encouraged a child's prosocial behavior by hugging, patting, or complimenting the child. In this group, and in the other intervention groups, the teacher's response was dependent upon opportunities presented by the children's behavior, which would be unique to each classroom.

Induction-only Group. Training sessions focused on the teacher's use of induction with the children in response to incidents of verbal and physical aggression naturally occurring in the classroom. The teacher was asked to communicate four things in the discipline encounter to the child: 1) His or her behavior (e.g., pushing, using foul language, refusing to share, and being impolite) hurts the feelings of the other child. 2) The behavior did not solve the problem. 3) There are other ways to solve the problem. For example, if a child pushed another child to get to a table, the teacher suggested that the child could have requested the other child to move out of his or her way. 4) When the child shares or is polite, rather than pushing, the child is being a wonderful (or nicer) person. Teachers used induction in a language they were comfortable with, but made sure that they covered all the four concepts. The teacher responded to the aggressive child immediately and did not wait to use induction later on. The teacher used induction as part of normal interaction with the child. The teacher talked to the child on a one-to-one basis, maintaining eye-to-eye contact, using language that the child understood. The child was asked if he or she understood what the teacher was trying to convey and the teacher encouraged the child to repeat the teacher's message. Children were encouraged to use induction with each other. In the first peer coaching session, the investigator introduced the strategy of induction by presenting two vignettes depicting aggressive behavior in preschool children. One vignette depicted a child kicking another child and the other depicted a child being rude to another child. Then the teacher practiced induction in similar situations in the classroom. In the second session, the teacher reported on situations where she used these kinds of explanations.

Reinforcement-and-Induction Group. Training sessions focused on using both reinforcement and induction. The training took place in the same manner for the other two intervention groups. Teachers were trained with one prosocial and one aggressive vignette in the first peer coaching session.


Two aspects of behavior change were addressed in this study--changes in children's prosocial behavior of the total classroom and changes in teacher behavior in the different groups. Each will be presented in order.

Total Classroom Prosocial Behavior

Rates of each of the five prosocial behaviors--helping, sharing, affection, comforting, and cooperation--showed a greater increase from pretest to posttest for the intervention groups as compared to the comparison group. The most frequent prosocial behavior was affection, followed by cooperation, sharing, helping, and comforting across groups (see Table 3). The reinforcement-only group increased from 45 to 84 prosocial acts during the hour-long observation (an increase of 87%), the reinforcement-and-induction group increased from 36 to 50 (an increase of 39%), and the induction-only group increased dramatically from 61 to 149 (an increase of 144%). In comparison, the increase in total scores for the comparison group from pretest to posttest (74 to 78) was a trivial 4 acts (an increase of 5%).

Two chi-square analyses were conducted for data in Table 2. The first chi-square analysis ([chi-square] (3, N = 577) = 15.59; p = .001) indicated significant differences between groups from pretest to posttest for total prosocial behavior, summing the 5 categories of behavior. Analysis of standardized residual scores indicated that the comparison group was higher than the intervention groups on pretest scores but significantly lower than the intervention groups on posttest scores for prosocial behavior. That is, the intervention groups increased more in prosocial behavior as compared to the comparison group following intervention.

The second chi-square analysis was conducted to compare posttest scores for helping, sharing, affection, and cooperation for all the groups. (Comforting scores were excluded because there were fewer than 5 tallies in each cell.) This chi-square analysis ([chi-square] (9, N= 353) = 21.26; p = .01) indicated significant differences between groups at posttest for all four prosocial behaviors. Analysis of standardized residual scores indicated that the helping category for the reinforcement-only group contributed to significant results. The prosocial behavior of comforting showed the smallest increase across all the intervention groups.

Change in Teacher Behavior--Intervention Implementation

Table 4 presents the frequency of use of intervention strategies in the four groups based on observations of teacher behaviors. All intervention behaviors decreased or remained unchanged for the comparison group, except for verbal reinforcement, which increased from pretest to posttest by three counts. The reinforcement-only group showed an increase in physical reinforcement behaviors (by 5 points) compared to all the groups, but decreased in verbal reinforcement behaviors. Surprisingly, problem-solving suggestions decreased in all the intervention groups, including the two induction groups. The induction-only group increased in number of suggestions that aggressive behavior did not solve the problem, but there were no differences in teachers talking about the impact of an aggressive act on the feelings of another child from pretest to posttest. The reinforcement-and-induction group decreased in number of suggestions that aggressive behavior did not solve problems, but increased in talking about the impact of an aggressive act on the feelings of another child. It also should be noted that some scores were very high in the pretest. For instance, the reinforcement-only group had a score of 16 for verbal reinforcement, and the reinforcement-and-induction group had a score of 14 for problem-solving suggestions on the pretest.


There are two key results that will be discussed here. First, each of the intervention groups, but not the comparison group, significantly increased in total classroom prosocial behavior from pretest to posttest. This supports the primary hypothesis of this study. Results from this study are particularly significant, because participants were impoverished, predominantly children of color, in subsidized child care, and at risk for externalizing problems at school.

The most dramatic increase, one that almost tripled the rate of prosocial behavior in the classroom, occurred for the induction-only group. The reinforcement-only group also showed a substantial increase in prosocial behavior. The reinforcement-and-induction group showed an increase in prosocial behavior, but the increase was much smaller than it was in the other two intervention groups. There are two possible reasons for the meager results of this last group. First, one class in this group had to be dropped. Second, it was too difficult to implement well.

Although all the intervention groups showed an increase in all the prosocial behaviors, data tentatively suggest that the two strategies of reinforcement and induction may foster different kinds of prosocial behaviors. The induction-only group showed a dramatic increase in affection. Other-oriented induction is thought to be a form of empathy training that triggers emotional responses toward others. This may foster displays of affection. In contrast, the reinforcement-only group showed a substantial increase in helping, sharing, and cooperation, but not affection. Reinforcement increases the probability that a behavior will be repeated. Teachers may be more likely to actively reinforce helping, sharing, and cooperation, compared with affection, in the classroom. Finally, across all intervention groups, comforting showed the smallest increase, suggesting that neither intervention strategy increased this behavior. This may be due to a floor effect; prevalence of this behavior was very low in all classrooms. This interesting suggestion should be explored in further research. Perhaps strategies could be tailored to the specific prosocial behaviors that need augmenting in individual classrooms.

The second key result that would be of interest to teacher educators has to do with implementation of the intervention. Observational data suggest some changes in teacher behaviors, but not substantial changes, and not in all aspects of behavior in which they were encouraged to engage. For example, the reinforcement-only group increased in physical reinforcement (patting and hugging), which is gratifying, because there were no incidents of physical reinforcement in the pretest. Similarly, the induction-only group increased in suggestions that aggressive behavior does not solve problems. However, they decreased in problem-solving suggestions and did not increase in explanations that focused the child's attention on others' feelings. In contrast, the teacher in the reinforcement-and-induction group did increase such explanations, but decreased in problem-solving suggestions and suggestions that aggressive behavior does not solve problems.

This data suggesting incomplete implementation of intervention strategies, particularly induction, stands in stark contrast to the marked increase in prosocial behaviors for intervention classrooms compared to the control group. One interpretation is that our measures underestimated the degree of implementation. This is likely, given that implementation was measured only on a single occasion for 30 minutes. This may not have been long enough to capture the use of each strategy, which is predicated upon opportunities that naturally arise in the classroom. Teacher interactions with children vary from day to day, which can reduce the reliability of measures, and underestimate true effects. In addition, pretest scores on intervention behaviors may have been inflated because teachers were on their best behavior, whereas by the posttest, teachers were acclimated to the observers. This could result in a decline in posttest scores. For example, the reinforcement-only group had a score of 16 for verbal reinforcement in the pretest and a score of 10 in the posttest.

A second interpretation is that the implementation was, in fact, incomplete, but the interventions were powerful nevertheless. Incomplete intervention may have occurred due to five reasons. First, teachers often had classroom duties, such as completion of projects and taking care of paperwork, that interfered with intervention. Second, preschool teachers may need more education in child development in order to execute these strategies successfully, whereas five out of eight teachers in this study had only a CDA degree. Third, the interventions focused on teacher-child interactions embedded in the regular flow of classroom activities. Teachers may find it easier to implement intervention as part of curricular activities that don't require them to change their patterns of interaction with children. Other studies (e.g., Chambers, 1993; Honig & Pollack, 1990) have involved changes in classroom activities, or curriculum, or using cooperative activities as an intervention to promote prosocial behavior.

A fourth reason for incomplete implementation is that teachers found induction difficult to use. This has implications for teacher training. While induction was powerful in promoting prosocial behavior in this sample of impoverished, African American children, teachers were not fully comfortable using it. Training teachers to effectively use induction may require more support and mentoring, such that reinforcement may be a faster, easier way to enhance children's prosocial behavior when resources are limited. However, our results suggest that the effort required to help teachers become proficient in the use of induction is worthwhile, if we want to help children develop early, strong repertoires of prosocial behavior.

A fifth reason for incomplete implementation is specific to the reinforcement-and-induction group. It may seem logical to train teachers to use both strategies, but the one teacher in the dual group may have been least effective because of the challenge of changing her behavior in too many dimensions simultaneously. Difficulty implementing two strategies, rather than a single strategy, could dilute the effect of both strategies. A sequential intervention, whereby teachers are given the opportunity to master one strategy before implementing the other, may be more successful.


We have already discussed the limitations of our measure of intervention implementation; the measure would be stronger with longer periods as well as multiple periods of observation. Another limitation of this study was the use of intact groups as opposed to the use of randomly assigned groups, which diminishes confidence in causality. Another limitation of the present study was that of mortality. One class dropped out of the reinforcement-and-induction group. To some extent, mortality is inevitable when working in naturalistic settings, but it diminishes the reliability of our results for that group.

In conclusion, both strategies--reinforcement and induction--resulted in a substantial increase in prosocial behavior among these impoverished, predominantly African American children. This increase occurred even though the strategies may have only been implemented to a modest degree, particularly induction, which teachers found difficult to use. To our knowledge, this is the only study using physical reinforcement (e.g., a pat on the back) as an intervention for increasing prosocial behavior. Results suggest it is an effective strategy in early childhood settings. However, it remains a sensitive topic in early child care settings. A tantalizing result from this study is that induction and reinforcement not only increase prosocial behavior, but that each may be more effective for different prosocial behaviors. This raises the possibility that interventions could be tailored to specific classrooms, or even individual children, based on which prosocial behaviors teachers want to augment.

(submitted 4/6/08; accepted 11/4/08)


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Vidya Ramaswamy

Wayne State University

Christi Bergin

University of Missouri-Columbia

Note: Vidya Ramaswamy is Research Associate, Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Wayne State University. Christi Bergin is Associate Research Professor, Assessment Resource Center, University of Missouri-Columbia.
Table 1
Teacher and Classroom Characteristics

Variables           Reinforcement-   Induction-   Reinforcement-
                      only group     only group    &-induction

Teacher's age         36    41       34      50      30    37
Teacher's             CDA   CDA      Assoc   CDA     BS    CDA
Teacher ethnicity     AA    AA       W       AA      W     AA
Years of teaching     8     8        12      15      7     17
Classroom size        8     12       17      10      13    14
Age range of          3-4   3-4      4-5     4-5     4-5   4-5

Variables           Comparison

Teacher's age       28    51
Teacher's           BS    CDA
Teacher ethnicity   W     AA
Years of teaching   3     25
Classroom size      9     15
Age range of        3-4   4-5

Note. CDA = Child Development Associate; Assoc = Associate;
BS = Bachelor's; AA = African American; W= White.

Table 2
Five Categories of Prosocial Behavior

Prosocial     Definition

Helping       Child engages in teaching, explaining,
              getting/giving an object, or provides assistance
              with tasks

Sharing       Child engages in offering, showing, allowing use
              of an object, turn taking, sharing toys & food

Comforts      Child shows physical comfort, questioning, and
              concern for others in  distress, and tries to
              cheer up another child

Affection     Child displays spontaneous acts of affection (such
              as hugs and kisses),  engages others in
              activities, and invites others to talk

Cooperation   Child fits into most situations amiably, is a good
              sport, lets other kids have the best roles in
              pretend play, is not domineering, accepts others'
              ideas in play, and compromises in play

Table 3
Total Number of Incidents of Prosocial Behavior for Total Classroom
by Groups

                  Comparison        Reinforcement-
              Pretest   Posttest   Pretest   Posttest

Affection     39        32         24        27
Cooperation   23        25          7        14
Sharing        3         7          5        20
Helpful        9        12          7        20
Comforting     0         2          2         3
Total         74        78         45        84

               Induction-only       Reinforcement-
              Pretest   Posttest   Pretest   Posttest

Affection     27         58        12        21
Cooperation   21         36        15        18
Sharing        6         33         3         7
Helpful        7         20         4         3
Comforting     0          2         2         1
Total         61        149        36        50

Note. The reinforcement and induction group has only one class.
All other groups have 2 classes each.

Table 4
Total Intervention Behaviors for Teachers by Groups

Intervention        Comparison         Reinforcement-
strategies                                  only

                 Pretest   Posttest   Pretest   Posttest
Verbal           4         7          16        10
Physical         0         0          0         5
Problem          8         3          5         1
Suggests         0         0          0         3
that behavior
does not solve
Talks about      1         0          0         2

Intervention       Induction-only      Reinforcement-
strategies                              and-induction

                 Pretest   Posttest   Pretest   Posttest
Verbal           0         2          8         9
Physical         0         0          0         1
Problem          5         4          14
Suggests         5         8          5         2
that behavior
does not solve
Talks about      6         6          0         2

Note. Each teacher was observed for 30 minutes. The reinforcement
and induction group has only one class. All other groups have 2
classes each.
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Author:Ramaswamy, Vidya; Bergin, Christi
Publication:Journal of Research in Childhood Education
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2009
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