Drs. Sutherland, Granger, Broda explore student behavior

Spotlight on SOE faculty research

From left: Dr. Michael Broda, Dr. Kevin Sutherland, Dr. Kristen Granger.
From left: Dr. Michael Broda, Dr. Kevin Sutherland, Dr. Kristen Granger.

The amount of knowledge being generated by VCU School of Education faculty in published research goes beyond merely enhancing the school’s reputation – it is helping to shape the future of education itself. One recent example of this is the study below, co-authored by Drs. Kevin Sutherland, Kristen Granger and Michael Broda, which looks at a specific teacher method that combats student problem behavior in the classroom.


Drs. Kevin Sutherland, Kristen Granger, and Michael Broda, along with co-authors from the VCU Department of Psychology and the University of Florida, examined the effect of the BEST in CLASS-Elementary intervention, delivered by teachers, on student problem behavior, academic achievement, teacher-student relationships, and classroom quality. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, BEST in CLASS-E was designed to increase positive teacher-student interactions and learning opportunities for students with or at risk of emotional/behavioral disorders. Teachers learn to insert BEST in CLASS-E practices within naturally occurring learning opportunities as they interact with their students. The study’s participants included 45 kindergarten to grade 3 students identified as at-risk of developing emotional/behavioral disorders and their 26 teachers from three urban elementary schools. These schools did not have any formal interventions in place to deal with student problem behaviors, and teachers engaged in classroom management practices without schoolwide interventions.

BEST in CLASS-E was shown to decrease teacher-reported student problem behavior and also increase teacher-student closeness, although it did not seem to have any effect on academic achievement or overall classroom quality. These results suggest that the teacher training and coaching practices of this intervention are a promising approach for reducing problem behavior in early elementary students.


Sutherland, K.S., Conroy, M.A., McLeod, B.D., Granger, K., Broda, M., & Kunemund, R. (2020). Preliminary study of the effects of BEST in CLASS-Elementary on outcomes of elementary students with problem behavior. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions. Hammill Institute on Disabilities. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098300719900318