Resources

The development of the Taxi Dog Program was guided by applied developmental theory and research. The program’s creation was informed by several scientific and educational fields of study including: child development, social and emotional learning, play-based learning, executive functioning, risk and resilience, media use in education, puppetry, learning disabilities, classroom-based primary prevention, and classroom climate.

Research Highlights

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Students with experience in SEL programs:

  • Report fewer instances of depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal (Whitcomb et al., 2012, and CASEL, 2013)
  • Are nearly 50% less likely to be involved in a fight, and up to 19% less likely to act violently in school (US Department of Education, 2007 and Gutner, et al., 2012)
  • Exhibit reduced rates of addiction, mental illness, and incarceration and improved academic achievement by 11 percentile points (Durlak, et al., 2011, and Hawkins, et al. 2008)
  • Demonstrate greater motivation to learn, improved relationships with peers, better classroom behavior, a deeper connection to their school, and increased attendance and graduation rates (CASEL, 2013)
  • A 2002 study by the National Center for Education Statistics determined that more than 90% of the major reasons former high school students gave for dropping out of school were related to social and emotional factors; a follow-up study reported that many of these students said they would have stayed in school had they been taught SEL skills. (Bridgeland, et al., 2006)
  • A recent national teacher survey on SEL revealed the following findings: (1) Teachers understand, value, and endorse SEL for all students; (2) teachers believe SEL helps students succeed in school and life; and (3) teachers identify key accelerators for SEL (for example, school wide programming, professional development, inclusion in learning standards) (Bridgeland, Bruce & Hariharan, 2013)

Executive Functioning and Self-Regulation

  • Research has shown that executive functioning ability is a stronger predictor of school readiness than IQ (Bierman et al., 2008)
  • A longitudinal study that followed 1,000 children from birth through age 32 found that the individuals who showed good self-control skills in childhood had better physical health, reduced substance dependence, better personal finances, and reduced criminal offending behavior later in life. (Moffitt, et al., 2011)
  • Recent research indicates that strategies including mindfulness-based approaches, physical activity, some computer games, and Montessori approaches aid in the development of executive function of children. (Diamond & Lee, 2011)

Classroom-Based Primary Prevention

  • Prevention and intervention tools such as SEL skills are most cost-effective when applied in early childhood development years. (SRCD, 2002)
  • Young students who develop effective social skills show better literacy two years later than their peers who did not receive instruction in such skills. (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2006).
  • Given that behavior problems during the early school years can be potent warning signs for later more serious forms of mental illness, the early elementary school years are considered to be the best time for primary prevention efforts because early instances of problems may be more amenable to prevention efforts than their later manifestations (Greenberg, 2010)

Risk and Resilience 

  • Resilience is defined as positive adaptation in spite of adversity.  Resilience has been considered as an individual difference characteristic, meaning the ability to be resilient in the face of adversity may exist in all of us, yet vary between us (Maston, 2001)
  • Research tells us that there are factors both internal to the individual (for example self confidence, intelligence, hope and optimism) and in the external environment (for example, the presence of one significant adult, involvement in extracurricular activities, school and community support) that promote resiliency, and that these factors do no operate alone but instead interact with one another to help children avoid negative consequences (Luthar, 2006; Masten, 2007)
  • Resiliency research offers a promising framework for efforts to reduce and prevent risk factors by focusing on examining the ways in which individuals, despite the presence of risk factors, develop in healthy ways -- are resilient and "beat the odds" (Masten, 2001; Schonert-Reichl & LeRose, 2008)

Media in Education

  • Children over two learn cognitive skill development and academic achievement from moderate exposure to educational media (Kirkorian et al., 2008, and Richert et al., 2011)
  • Television programs designed to promote positive social behaviors help develop altruism, cooperation, and tolerance (Brooks-Gunn et al., 2008)
  • Media characters are effective at modeling emotions and empathy for children. (Wilson, 2008)

Puppets in Education and Play-Based Learning

  • Appropriate use of puppets in the curriculum can increase student motivation, classroom involvement, and academic success (Zuljeyic, 2005)
  • Children engaged in puppetry demonstrate increased communications as well as better self-insight, which enables them to express themselves more freely (Caputo, 1993)
  • Puppets provide a safe barrier for many children between the self and experience, allowing them to safely express a range of emotions including fear and hope (Gendler, 1986)
  • There is convincing and comprehensive evidence that play-based learning contributes to improved verbalization, vocabulary, language comprehension, attention span, concentration, impulse control, curiosity, problem-solving strategies, cooperation, empathy, and group participation (Smilansky and Shefatya, 1990)
  • Learning-based play helps children develop empathy, creativity, resilience, and focus (Barblett, 2010)

Storytelling

Bishop and Glynn, in Culture Counts: Changing Power Relations in Education (1999), acknowledge:

  • Storytelling is a learning tool that allows for students to make sense of experiences using the specific and unique characteristics of a particular culture.
  • Storytelling also has the capacity to support and enhance relationships among students by creating new knowledge, and
  • Sharing and processing stories provides students with opportunities to develop authentic relationships with their peers.

Social Emotional Learning and Special Populations

  • 6,483,000 public school students ages 3-21 years (13.2% of total enrollment) were identified as having a disability (National Center for Education Statistics, 2009)
  • 85% of these students have disorders with a high occurrence of SEL deficits including autism spectrum disorders, nonverbal learning disorders, language learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and traumatic brain injuries (National Center for Education Statistics, 2009; Strain and Smith, 1996)
  • Of families that have a child with a disability, the most commonly expressed desire is for the child to be able to develop relationships with peers (Turnbull & Turnbull, 1993)

The Importance of Supportive Classroom Environments

  • Children's engagement or disengagement in schools, depends largely on whether children's fundamental needs for belonging, autonomy, and competence are being fulfilled (Ryan & Powelson, 1991)
  • Children who have supportive relationships with their teachers enjoy school more and get along better with their peers.  These children are able to play and work on their own because they know that they can count on their teacher to respond to them if they get upset or experience difficulties (Hamre & Pianta, 2006)
  • Better implementation of SEL curriculum occurs when a teacher has enhanced SEL competencies.  In fact, better student-teacher relationships are possible when teachers have stronger SEL competencies.  A positive feedback loop is created via the teacher's ability to model appropriate social and emotional behavior in the transactional relationship (Jennings & Greenberg, 2009)

Stress and Burnout in the Teaching Profession

  • Teachers have the highest burnout rate of any public service career, with 25% leaving the profession after only 2 years, and 50% leaving after only 5 years. The most commonly cited reason is behavior problems among students. (National Center for Education)
  • Teacher attrition in the United States costs taxpayers an estimated $7 billion annually in funds to recruit, hire, and train new teachers. (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future)

Additional Resources

Resources

Barblett, L. (2010). Why play-based learning? Every Child, 6 (3).

Bergen, D. (2002). The role of pretend play in children's cognitive development. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 4(1). Retrieved from: http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v4n1/bergen.html

Blair, C. (2002). School readiness: Integrating cognition and emotion in a neurobiological conceptualization of children’s functioning at school entry. American Psychologist, 57 (2): 111–27.

Blair, C., & Razza, R.P. (2007). Relating effortful control, executive function, and false belief understanding to emerging math and literacy ability in kindergarten. Child Development, 78 (2): 647–63.

Bishop, R., & Glynn, T. (1999). Culture Counts: Changing Power Relations in Education. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.

Brooks-Gunn, J., Hirschhorn Donahue, E. (2008). Children and Electronic Media. The Future of Children,18(1).

Caputo, R.A. (1993). Using Puppets with Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Intervention in School and Clinic, 29 (26).

CASEL. (2013). The Missing Piece: A Report for CASEL.  Retrieved from http://static.squarespace.com/static/513f79f9e4b05ce7b70e9673/t/526a2589e4b01768fee91a6a/1382688137983/the-missing-piece.pdf 

CASEL. (2013). CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs: Preschool and Elementary School Edition. Retrieved from http://www.casel.org/guide/

Diamond, A. & Lee, K. (2011). Interventions shown to aid executive function development in children 4 to 12 years old. Science, 333, 959-963.

Durlak, J., Weissberg, R., Dymnicki, A., & Schellinger, K. (2011). The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405-432.

Durlak, J., Weissberg, R., & Pachan, M. (2010). A Meta-Analysis of After-School Programs that Seek to Promote Personal and Social Skills in Children and Adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 294-309; and see supra notes 75-78.

Ekman, P. (2003). Emotions Revealed. New York, NY: Henry Holt & Company.

Epstein, M., Atkins, M., Cullinan, D., Kutash, K., and Weaver, R. (2008). Reducing Behavior Problems in the Elementary School Classroom: A Practice Guide. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. 

Forman, S., Olin, S. Hoagwood, K.  Crowes, M., Saka, N. (2009).  Evidence-Based Interventions in School in School Developer's Views of Implementation Barriers and Facilitators.  School of Mental Health, 1, 25-36.

Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden and build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218–226.

Gendler, M. (1986). Group puppetry with school-age children: Rationale, procedure and therapeutic implications. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 13: 45-52.

Greenberg, M., et al. (2003). Enhancing School-Based Prevention and Youth Development Through Coordinated Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning. American Psychologist, 466-474.

Gutner, L., Caldarella, P., Korth, B., & Young, K.R. (2012). Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in Preschool Students: A Study of Strong Start Pre-K. Early Childhood Education Journal, 40, 151-159.

Hawkins, D.H., Kosterman, R., Catalano, R.F., Hill, K.G., & Abbott, R.D. (2008). Effects of a social development intervention in childhood 15 years later. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 162, 1122-1141.

Heitin, L. (2012, August 23). Polling Group: Student Success Linked to Positive Outlook. Education Week-Teacher. Retrieved from http:// www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2011/08/23/ gallup_students.html?tkn=ZWMF6tOPpu57RjD GAQt6w0n0Ats4x8efRVDD&cmp=clp-edweek.

Humphrey, N. (2013). Social and emotional learning: A critical appraisal.  Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Jones, S.M. & Bouffard, S.M. (2012). Social and emotional learning in schools: From programs to strategies. Sharing Child and Youth Development Knowledge, 26 (4).  

Joseph, G.E. & Strain, P.S. (2003). Comprehensive Evidence-Based Social–Emotional Curricula for Young Children: An Analysis of Efficacious Adoption Potential. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 23(2): 65–76.

Kirkorian, H.L.,  Wartella, E.A., & Anderson, D.R. (2008). Children and Electronic Media. The Future of Children, 18 (1), 39-61.

Kress, J. S., & Elias, M. J. (2006). School-based social and emotional learning programs. Handbook of child psychology, 4 (6): 592–618. New York: Wiley. 

Lawlor, M.S., Schonert-Reichl, K.A., & Kerr, J. (April 2007). The relation of school belonging to children’s social- emotional competence and social responsibility: A longitudinal study. Poster presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, Chicago, Illinois. 

Lawlor, M. S., & Schonert‐Reichl, K. A. (2008, March). The benefits of being good during early adolescence: Altruism, happiness, and the mediating role of relatedness. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, NY, NY. 

Lawlor, M.S., & Schonert-Reichl, K.A, Gadermann, A., & Zumbo, B.D. (2013). A Validation Study of the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale Adapted for Children. Mindfulness.

Layous, K., Nelson, S.K., Oberle, E., Schonert-Reichl, K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2012).  Kindness Counts: Promoting Prosocial Behavior in Preadolescents Boosts Peer Acceptance and Well-Being.  PLOS, 7 (12).

Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803–855.

Measelle, J., R., Ablow, J. C., Cowan, P. A., & Cowan, C. P. (1998). Assessing young children’s self-perceptions of their academic, social, and emotional lives: An evaluation of the Berkeley Puppet Interview. Child Development, 69, 1556-1576.

Moffitt T.E., et al. (2010). A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 108, 2693–2698.

Simpson, G.A., Cohen, R.A., Pastor, P.N., & Reuben, C.A. (2006). U.S. children 4-17 years of age who received services for emotional or behavioral difficulties: Preliminary data from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey.  Health E-Stats.  http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/index.htm

National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, Science Briefs: Connections Between Literacy and Social Behavior. (2006). Retrieved December 12, 2012 from http://www.developingchild.net.

Oberle, E., Schonert-Reichl, K.A. Lawlor, M.S., (2011). Mindfulness and inhibitory control in early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence.  Retrieved from http://jea.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/03/29/0272431611403741

Payton, J., et al. (2008). The Positive Impact of Social and Emotional Learning for Kindergarten to Eighth- Grade Students: Findings from Three Scientific Reviews. Chicago, IL: CASEL.

Rimm-Kaufman, S., R.C. Pianta, & M. Cox. (2001). Teachers’ judgments of problems in the transition to school. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 15: 147–66.

Schonert-Reichl, K.A., & Lawlor, M.S. (2010). The effects of a mindfulness-based education on pre- and early adolescents’ well-being and social and emotional competence. Mindfulness, 1(3): 137-151.

Simpson, G.A., Cohen, R. A., Pastor, P.N. & Ph.D., Reuben, C. A. (2005). U. S. Children 4-17 Years of Age Who Received Services for Emotional or Behavioral Difficulties: Preliminary Data From the 2005 National Health Interview Survey. NCHS Health E-Stat. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/children2005/children2005.htm

Smilansky, S., & Shefatya, L. (1990). Facilitating play: A medium for promoting cognitive, socio-emotional, and academic development in young children. Gaithersburg, MD: Psychological and Educational Publications.

Strain, P.S. & Smith, B.J. (1996). Developing Social Skills in Young Children with Special Needs. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 41(1): 24-27.

Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD). (2002). Research on Social Policy Topics Concerning Children and Families. Social Policy Report Brief, 16(3).

U.S. Department of Education. (2007). What Works Clearinghouse Intervention Report: Positive Action. Retrieved from http://ies. ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/intervention_reports/WWC_ Positive_Action_042307.pdf

Weissberg, R., Kumpfer, K., Seligman, M. (2003) Prevention That Works for Children and Youth: An Introduction. American Psychologist, 425-432.

Whitcomb, S. & Merrell, K. (2012). Understanding Implementation and Effectiveness of Strong Start K-2 on Social- Emotional. Early Childhood Education Journal, 40, 63-71.

Wilson, B.J. (2008). Media and Children’s Aggression, Fear, and Altruism. The Future of Children, 18 (1).

Zins, J. E., Bloodworth, M. R., Weissberg, R. P., & Walberg, H. J. (2004). The scientific base linking social and emotional learning to school success.  Building academic success on social and emotional learning: What does the research say? NY: Teachers College Press. 

Zuljevic, V. (2005). Puppets-A Great Addition to Everyday Teaching. Thinking Classroom,  6.