Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Educational Specialist (EdS)



Committee Chair(s)

Donna Gilbertson


Donna Gilbertson


Gretchen Gimpel Peacock


Kyle Hancock


Prior research of rough-and-tumble play (RTP) has shown mixed results—different operational definitions, varying functions, and positive and negative outcomes. Few researchers have studied interventions to address RTP in school settings. With unclear evidence of RTP outcomes and the extent school interventions are addressing RTP in school settings, this study explored the extent and effectiveness of intervention programs being implemented to prevent/reduce negative outcomes of RTP in elementary schools.

A survey was created and conducted with 30 school problem-solving teams in a western state to obtain information concerning RTP in elementary school settings. Teams provided estimated percentages of RTP leading to beneficial and problematic behaviors, types of benefits or problems resulting from RTP, specific prevention/intervention programs that teams report implementing to address RTP concerns, percentage estimations of students responding to implemented interventions, and training needs to address interventions for RTP concerns.

Survey responses showed different medians for estimated percentages for problematic outcomes (80%) versus beneficial outcomes (10%). Further, the number of problem items (M = 9.57, SD = 1.87) was more highly endorsed by teams than the number of items listing benefits (M = 4.43, SD = 3. 39), suggesting RTP was more often problematic than beneficial. Interventions estimated to be effective in treating negative RTP outcomes with 80% or greater response rates are reward systems, social skills trainings, active supervision, and bully prevention. These study findings are different from previous research, which concluded that RTP was harmless and/or beneficial to students, and might be due to environmental differences (school vs. community). It might be estimated that schools should monitor or prevent RTP to avoid problems, such as aggression, bullying, and poor peer relationships. Programs frequently used by teams targeted skill acquisition through social skills training, anger management, and bully prevention.

This study provides understanding to the extent RTP should be addressed in schools. School problem-solving teams report that RTP can be problematic in school settings; however, it can be prevented with school-wide intervention and intervened with individual and small-group interventions.




This work made publicly available electronically on December 20, 2012.

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