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Sunday, December 03, 2023

UF education researchers have received two federal grants totaling $5.5 million for studies focused on reducing behavioral problems that disrupt the learning environment.

One $4 million grant will fund a study on behavioral intervention techniques in preschool-aged children, headed by Maureen Conroy of UF and Kevin Sutherland of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Another $1.5 million grant will support the research of UF special education faculty members Stephen Smith and Ann Daunic into developing curricula to help control behavioral issues in grades six through eight.

Conroy and Sutherland's research will examine their BEST in CLASS intervention program's effect on preschoolers in the classroom.

The program teaches teachers behavioral intervention strategies, such as using rules and routines, providing specific praise and encouragement and keeping children engaged, Conroy said.

Next year, she will be collaboratively working with Alachua County Head Start.

"We want to prevent those behaviors so that when they go to school, they can be successful," she said.

Conroy noted that preliminary research has shown that BEST in CLASS techniques are both successful at increasing engagement in children while decreasing disruption and aggression.

Smith's research, on the other hand, will lead to the development of an entire curriculum for middle school students in specific programs with emotional and behavioral disorders.

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