Reducing Aggressive Behavior And Increasing Motivation In School: The Evolution Of An Intervention To Strengthen School Adjustment

The pervasive links between problem behaviors and school adjustment suggest that effective intervention programs to enhance school adjustment must focus both on decreasing the motivation to aggress and increasing the motivation to achieve. We describe a program of intervention research to improve social behavior and academic motivation in elementary school students organized around principles of attribution theory. Our intervention curriculum initially focused on reducing children's aggression and was then expanded to include enhancing personal responsibility. A series of efficacy and effectiveness studies have demonstrated that children's attributions in both the social and academic domains can be changed with cost-effective, educational strategies. These changes in children's cognitions have reliably produced positive changes in behavior. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our work for the design of effective interventions.