INSIGHTS into Children’s Temperament

Promising Program

Program Design

INSIGHTS into Children’s Temperament uses teaching practices and free-standing SEL lessons to support social emotional learning for children in grades K-2 and the adults that support them. The program includes separate lessons for teachers, parents, and students. The lessons work together to build awareness of the ways children’s individual temperaments impact they ways they respond to everyday situations. The program is based on the theory that students have unique temperaments and that by gaining awareness of children’s temperaments, adults can tailor their responses to better support the needs of each child.

The student lessons focus on enhancing empathy skills and building understanding of problem-solving techniques. There are a total of 10 weekly lessons that are designed to be implemented in 45-minute sessions in classrooms. During the first four lessons, students are introduced to a series of puppets with different temperaments (friendly, cautious, hard worker, grumpy). Students discuss activities and situations that are easy for each puppet as well as those that are challenging. Students also learn a process for problem-solving. During the second half of the program, students generate lists of their own dilemmas from school and work together to apply the problem-solving process through role-play with the puppets. An overarching theme of the student lessons is acceptance of themselves and others. Students end each session with a song about how we are each unique. The program is designed to be led by a facilitator, but may also be implemented by the classroom teacher.

In addition to student lessons, INSIGHTS provides lessons to help parents and teachers foster competencies in students and strengthen their own social-emotional development. There are a total of ten weekly, 2-hour sessions. Lessons provide practices for parents and teachers, including “The 3 R‘s of Child Management: Recognize, Reframe, and Respond.” Here, parents and teachers learn to recognize and understand a child’s behavior through the lens of his or her temperament, reframe their perspective to appreciate that there are strengths and challenges associated with each temperament, and respond in ways that are appropriate and empowering. The program also provides temperament-based management strategies and guidance for helping teachers “scaffold” learning experiences for students through rehearsal and roleplay. They also provide a protocol for parents and teachers to meet together and plan and implement a collaborative project. This helps to build positive relationships between these two important groups of adults in children’s lives.

Implementation Support

The professional development model for INSIGHTS is offered in two formats. The original format is a ten session curriculum held in weekly two-hour sessions. However, professional development can also be offered over two full days, with at least two weeks in-between so that teachers have the opportunity to experience the program before coming together for a second day of learning. Professional learning sessions include didactic content, videotaped vignettes, role playing, discussion, and assignments. Teachers then have access to an online school-age temperament inventory, video content, and a variety of instructional handouts for teachers. Although the training is designed primarily for teachers, other members of the school community, such as counselors and administrators, are invited to attend to support the strategies throughout the building. Other implementation supports include coaching on-site or remotely, additional training sessions for teachers, and review and feedback of teachers’ videotaped sessions by INSIGHTS staff.

Evidence of Effectiveness

Results from a randomized control trial published in 2015 support the effectiveness of INSIGHTS for elementary students. The evaluation included 120 classrooms from 22 urban elementary schools who were in kindergarten and first grade (Black = 79%, Hispanic = 44%; 80% qualified for free or reduced price lunch). The evaluation found that the teachers who participated in the program exhibited higher levels of teacher emotional support compared to teachers in the comparison group (outcomes reported 10 weeks after baseline while controlling for outcome pretest). 

References reviewed by CASEL Program Team  

Cappella, E., O’Connor, E. E., McCormick, M. P., Turbeville, A. R., Collins, A. J., & McClowry, S. G. (2015). Classwide Efficacy of INSIGHTS: Observed Teacher Practices and Student Behaviors in Kindergarten and First Grade. The Elementary School Journal, 116(2), 217-241. 

Additional References 

O’Connor, E.E., Cappella, E., McCormick, M.P & McClowry, S.G. (2014). An examination of the efficacy of INSIGHTS in enhancing the academic and behavioral development of children in early grades.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(4), 1156-1169. doi: 10.1037/a0036615 

McCormick, M.P., Neuhaus, R.M., Horn, E.P., O’Connor, E.E., White, H.I., Harding, S., Cappella, E., & McClowry, S.G. (2019). Long-term effects of social–emotional learning on receipt of special education and grade retention: Evidence from a randomized trial of INSIGHTS. AERA Open, 5(3), 1–21. doi: 10.1177/2332858419867290 

McCormick, M.P., White, H.I., Horn, E.P., Lacks, R., O’Connor, E.E., Cappella, E., & McClowry, S.G. (2018). Instructional support and academic skills: Impacts of INSIGHTS in classrooms with shy children. Early Education and Development. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2018.1435943 

McCormick, M. P., O’Connor, E. E., Cappella, E., & McClowry, S. G. (2015). Getting a good start in school: Effects of INSIGHTS on children with high maintenance temperaments. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 30(A), 128-139doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2014.10.006 

McCormick, M.P., Cappella, E., O’Connor, E.E., & McClowry, S.G. (2015). Context matters for social-emotional learning in early elementary school: Examining variation in program impact by dimensions of school climate. American Journal of Community Psychology, 56, 101-119doi: 10.1007/s10464-015-9733-z 

O’Connor, E. E., Cappella, E., McCormick, M. P., & McClowry, S. G. (2014). Enhancing the academic development of shy children: A test of the efficacy of INSIGHTSSchool Psychology Review, 43(3), 239-259.