A school-based prevention program that trains children in generating a variety of solutions to problems. The program is rated Promising. The treatment group had significantly greater problem-solving, self-regulation and understanding of consequences scores. There was greater adjustment and improved behavior, and social bonding at school; but no significant differences for social competence between groups.
Program Goals/Target Population
I Can Problem Solve (ICPS) is a school-based prevention program that trains children in generating a variety of solutions to problems, considering and understanding the possible consequences of those solutions, and recognizing thoughts, feelings, and motives that can lead to problem situations. ICPS is designed for young children, typically around the ages of 4 to 12, who are of lower and middle socioeconomic status, live in principally urban and rural settings, from multiple ethnic groups, and may be at risk for behavioral dysfunctions and interpersonal maladjustment. The program was created to encourage critical thinking, cognitive processing, and problem solving in young children, based on the principle of teaching "how to think" rather than "what to think."
The ICPS curriculum consists of 3 manuals: Preschool (59 lessons); Kindergarten/Primary grades (Kindergarten through Grade 2, 83 lessons); and Intermediate Elementary Grades (Grade 3 through Grade 6, 77 lessons). These individual 20- to 40-minute lessons are integrated into all teaching areas. Each lesson has a stated purpose, suggested material, and script teachers use to guide the class. Ideally, lessons are delivered between three and five times a week. Lessons encourage children to be creative in finding solutions, and to develop a habit of problem solving and contemplating those solutions and potential consequences. The program includes both formal lessons and specific suggestions for incorporating ICPS principles into daily classroom activities. Early lessons focus on word concepts and pre-problem-solving skills to understand and recognize other people’s feelings. The lessons that follow aim to help children identify their feelings and the feelings of others, with later lessons using role playing and "dialoguing" to enhance their problem-solving skills. The teacher can strictly follow the lesson plan or be creative with content, as long as the concepts of the lesson are taught. These concepts can also be incorporated into academic subjects, such as reading and math. Various techniques and tools including games, puppets, role playing, and stories are used in lessons throughout the course. In addition, teachers and other school personnel learn how to use the problem solving approach (called "ICPS Dialoguing") outside of the formal lessons. Dialoguing guides children to use their newly acquired problem solving skills when problems occur in real life.
The ICPS intervention requires a qualified and trained teacher to implement the program within his or her classroom. It also requires a lesson guide to lead the classroom through the program.
Shure and Spivack (1982) found that children in the treatment group had significantly greater interpersonal problem-solving scores compared with the control group. This gain was maintained at the 1-year follow-up as seen in the nursery school trained children.
Children in the treatment group had significantly different consequence scores (as measured by the What Happens Next Game) compared with the control group. These gains were maintained at the 1-year follow-up as seen in the nursery school trained children.
Children in the treatment group demonstrated significantly greater adjustment and improved interpersonal behavior as measured by teachers when compared with the control group. This gain was maintained at the 1-year follow-up as seen in the nursery school trained children.
Kumpfer and colleagues (2002) found the I Can Problem Solve (ICPS) intervention had a rather large and significant effect (effect size=1.32) on the scores for social bonding among treatment group children, compared with children in the control group.
There were no significant differences between scores for social competence of the treatment group and the control group after the 1-year intervention.
The ICPS intervention had a moderate and significant effect (effect size=.46) on self-regulation scores for treatment group children, compared with children in the control group.
The study by Boyle and Hassett–Walker (2008) showed that after 1 year of intervention, the treatment group scored significantly higher in both teacher-rated behavior scales than the control group. Additionally, the group that received 2 years of the intervention showed even more substantial effects. These findings indicate the program resulted in improved behavior of participants in the treatment group compared with the control group.
Shure and Spivack’s 1982 evaluation of an interpersonal cognitive problem-solving intervention, which would later be called I Can Problem Solve (ICPS), followed low-income, inner-city African American nursery school and kindergarten children to evaluate them over a 2-year period. Subjects in the year 1 evaluation included 113 children (47 boys and 66 girls) trained in ICPS, and 106 control children (50 boys and 56 girls). In year 2 of the evaluation, the 131 children were divided into four groups: a twice trained group (n=39); a trained in nursery school group (n=30); a trained in kindergarten group (n=35); and a never-trained control group (n=27). At baseline the average age of the sample was 4 years and 3 months, with equality of the groups in age distribution, IQ, ICPS test scores, and behavioral characteristics. On average, treatment children were trained for 12 full weeks in formal, scripted sessions implemented by their teacher throughout the school day.
Researchers collected information on interpersonal cognitive problem-solving measures each year immediately before and following the 12-week intervention, for a total of four assessments. The measures were used to test children’s abilities to problem solve and understand consequences, and to evaluate teacher-rated interpersonal behavior in the classroom. Data was analyzed using analysis of variance.
The Kumpfer and colleagues (2002) evaluation of ICPS compared 256 children who received treatment with 322 control children. Children were recruited from the 1st grade classes of 12 schools in two Rocky Mountain districts. It should be noted that the study also included two other treatment conditions not discussed in this summary: one with 56 ICPS children who also received the Strengthening Families program, and one with 21 ICPS children who received only the parent module of the Strengthening Families program. The overall sample was 87 percent Caucasian and 7.6 percent Hispanic, with an average Hollingshead index position indicating a largely middle-class sample. The majority of the sample (53 percent) was female; 6 percent were enrolled in special education and 3.2 percent had a documented learning disability.
Kumpfer et al. (2002) designed constructs for measuring school bonding, parenting skills, social competence, and self-regulation by deriving various indices from questionnaires administered to children, parents, and teachers. Questionnaires were administered at the beginning and end of the intervention year. The results show scores on each item and the study estimates effect sizes and mean differences controlling for group differences in the baseline measurements.
In an independent study conducted by Boyle and Hassett–Walker (2008), matched pairs of schools were randomly assigned to either ICPS instruction or control status. The student sample included 226 students who were assigned to one of three groups: the 2-year ICPS group (n=96) received ICPS instruction for 2 consecutive years; the 1-year ICPS group (n=106) received ICPS instruction for 1 year only in kindergarten or 1st grade; and the control group (n=24) received no ICPS instruction.
More than 80 percent of participants in each group were Hispanic. African American students made up 9 percent of the 2-year instruction group and 5 percent of the 1-year instruction group. None of the control group participants were African American. A small percentage of participants in each group were white. Each group had more females than males. Additionally, more than 90 percent of children in all three groups were receiving a discounted lunch, a measure used as an indicator of income level.
Chi-square analyses revealed no significant differences among the groups in race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or gender. Two behavior ratings scales were employed: the Preschool Social Behavior Scale and the Hahnemann Behavior Rating Scale. Analysis was conducted using multiple analysis of covariance and analysis of covariance techniques.
I Can Problem Solve (ICPS) Program Manuals for teachers cost $41.95 per manual or $113.25 for the full set of 3 manuals.
One- or two-day training workshops cost $1,500/day plus travel and expenses.
A three-day train-the-trainer workshop costs $740 per person, and includes a Facilitator Guide.
On-site workshops for teachers or support staff (e.g., guidance counselors, school psychologists, social workers, school nurses) are available. Preferred is a two-day workshop, although a one-day workshop is offered if necessary. These workshops are given on-site.
For those who wish to train teachers or other personnel in their setting, a 3-day train-the-trainers workshop is offered, either on-site or at a stated location.
Technical assistance is available in person (cost negotiable), or via email or telephone (gratis).
Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:Study 1
Shure, Myrna B., and George Spivack. 1982. “Interpersonal Problem Solving in Young Children: A Cognitive Approach to Prevention.” American Journal of Community Psychology
Kumpfer, Karol L., Rose Alvarado, Connie Tait, and Charles Turner. 2002. “Effectiveness of School-Based Family and Children’s Skills Training for Substance Abuse Prevention Among 6- to 8-Year-Old Rural Children.” Psychology of Addictive Behaviors
Boyle, Douglas J., and Connie Hassett–Walker. 2008. “Reducing Overt and Relational Aggression Among Young Children: The Results From a 2-Year Outcome Evaluation.” Journal of School Violence
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:
dos Santos Elias, Luciana Carla, Edna Maria Marturano, Ana Maria de Almeida Motta, and Alessandra Gaspar Giurlani. 2003. “Treating Boys With Low School Achievement and Behavior Problems: Comparison of Two Kinds of Intervention.” Psychological Reports
Shure, Myrna B. 1984. Problem Solving and Mental Health of 10- to 12-Year-Olds. Final Report of Research and Training
. No. MH–35989. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Mental Health.
———. 1992a. “I Can Problem Solve (ICPS): An Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving Program (Preschool).” Champaign, Ill.: Research Press.http://www.researchpress.com/books/590/icps-i-can-problem-solve
———. 1992b. “I Can Problem Solve (ICPS): An Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving Program (Kindergarten/Primary Grades).” Champaign, Ill.: Research Press.http://www.researchpress.com/books/591/icps-i-can-problem-solve
———. 1992c. “I Can Problem Solve (ICPS): An Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving Program (Intermediate Elementary Grades).” Champaign, Ill.: Research Press.http://www.researchpress.com/books/592/icps-i-can-problem-solve
———. 1993a. “I Can Problem Solve: Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving for Young Children.” Early Child Development and Care
———. 1993b. Interpersonal Problem Solving and Prevention: A Comprehensive Report of Research and Training
. No. MH–40801. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Mental Health.
———. 1999. “Preventing Violence the Problem-Solving Way.” Juvenile Justice Bulletin
. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/172847.pdf
Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:Universal School-Based Social Information Processing Interventions for Aggression
School-based violence prevention interventions that target social information-processing difficulties in students, aiming to reduce the aggressive and disruptive behavior of school-aged children. The practice is rated Promising for reducing aggressive behavior in school-aged children.Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Targeted School-Based Social Information-Processing Interventions for Aggression
| ||Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Aggression|
This practice examines targeted prevention efforts for particular students that attempt to improve one or more aspects of the students’ social information processing, aiming to prevent and/or reduce aggressive or violent behavior in school-aged children. The practice is rated Effective for reducing aggressive behavior in school-aged children.Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
| ||Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Aggression|