Project RESPECT: A Proposal to develop the Responding in Emotionally Supportive and Positive Ways in Educational Communication Skills Training program

Duration: 2015 - 2019
Funding: U.S. Department of Education
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Frank


The development of effective interpersonal communication skills is critical to the success of professionals in a variety of settings. These skills are particularly important for teachers, who must learn to successfully interact with a diverse array of students, colleagues, and parents on a daily basis. Teachers with well-developed interpersonal communication skills are better prepared to provide emotional support by managing student behavior effectively, de-escalating conflict situations, and building more positive relationships with students, parents, and colleagues.

Although the features of effective interpersonal communication strategies are fairly well known, the field lacks feasible and effective programs to support the development of these skills among in-service teachers. Moreover, traditional pedagogy for training interpersonal communication skills (modeling, role-play, and coaching) is inefficient and frequently ineffective.

This project sought to: (1) develop a manualized program designed to teach in-service teachers the principles and skills of effective interpersonal communication and conflict management, (2) assess the feasibility and acceptability of program content and materials developed, (3) iteratively evaluate and revise core program content over the course of three development cycles, (4) determine the effectiveness of supplemental components, (5) develop valid measures of program fidelity, and (6) conduct a pilot study to determine the effectiveness of the final version of the program.

Project Team


Using virtual role-play to enhance teacher candidates’ skills in responding to bullying.

Schussler, D. L., Frank, J. L., Lee, T. K. & Mahfouz, J. (2017). Using virtual role-play to enhance teacher candidates’ skills in responding to bullying. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 25(1), 91–120.