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Randomized Experimental Evaluation of the Tribes Learning Communities Prevention Program

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2011
163 pages

This report presents the methodology and findings of a randomized trial that evaluated the impact of "Tribes," which has been used in first-fourth grade classrooms throughout the school year in order to facilitate positive classroom climate, respect for others, teamwork, relationship-building, and accountability.


The evaluation findings provided little evidence that "Tribes" impacted teachers' reports on the classroom environment or instructional practices. None of the estimated impacts on teacher survey measures were statistically or substantively significant; however for the outcomes based on classroom observations, the analyses indicated that "Tribes" classrooms provided more opportunities for small-group work, student collaboration, and student reflection compared to non-Tribes classrooms. Also, students in "Tribes" classrooms appeared to be more engaged and exhibited more sharing behavior. An examination of student outcomes 6 months after leaving a "Tribes" classroom indicated the program did not have sustained impacts. In the short-term, however, "Tribes" appeared to have more beneficial impacts for boys and more detrimental impacts for girls. Boys in "Tribes" classrooms had higher scores than those in control classrooms on teachers' reports of intrapersonal and affective strengths and parent reports of intrapersonal strengths. Boys also had lower scores on parent reports on rule-breaking behavior. Few significant impacts of "Tribes" were found for girls, with the exception of the negative impact on test scores. The evaluation examined program impacts on the classroom environment and teacher practices, student protective factors against violence, and disruptive and disorderly behavior. Impacts on student outcomes were assessed immediately after one academic year of exposure to the program and 6 months after students left their "Tribe" classrooms. The program organized students into smaller learning groups ("tribes"), and teachers were trained to facilitate program goals. The "Tribes" sample consisted of 79 treatment classroom and 74 control classrooms. 38 tables, 3 figures, 92 references, and appended evaluation forms and program materials

Date Published: October 1, 2011