The study took place in three classrooms in a school in a large urban area in the Midwest. The school had 460 students in grades 1–6 and served more than 72% economically disadvantaged students. Isaac was taught exclusively in a special education classroom with one or two adults, and Jeremiah and Ben were taught in general education classes, with paraprofessional support. The study intervention took place in the class where each student had the most behavior problems: math for Isaac and Ben, and writing for Jeremiah.
Three students were part of the study sample. Isaac was a 12-year-old Caucasian male who spoke English at home. He was in sixth grade but tested at least three grades below his age level and tested in the mild intellectual disability range (IQ = 67). He was in a school-based program for children with an emotional and behavioral disorder (EBD) and had been in the self-contained special education classroom since first grade, spending more than half of the day with one or two adults and no peers.
Jeremiah was a 7-year-old Caucasian male who spoke English at home. He was in second grade, tested slightly below grade level in all academic areas, and had average cognitive skills. He was in a school-based program for children with EBD, had a health impairment, and spent most of the day in a general education classroom with support from paraprofessionals.
Ben was a 9-year-old Caucasian male who spoke English at home. He was in third grade and had an average IQ of 94. He was in a school-based program for children with EBD, and had previously been in a self-contained special education classroom under the category of developmental delay. He spent most of his day in a general education classroom with support from paraprofessionals.
Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) procedures for each student included interviewing the participants’ teachers, examining records of discipline referrals, and conducting direct observations in the students’ classrooms. FBA indicated that Isaac’s and Ben’s disruptive behaviors were maintained by escape from academic demands, and that Jeremiah was disruptive to obtain peer attention.
The FBA-based intervention for all three students, functional based self-management (FBSM), included a system of consequences and rewards. The student observed and recorded his own problem behavior and received consequences and/or rewards, depending on whether they met the goal they were monitoring. The rewards for appropriate behavior were “break tickets,” which could be used for a 1-minute break from instruction or a 1-minute break with a friend. The consequences for negative behaviors were prompts for getting back on task. The FBA-based intervention also included self-monitoring (see summary in the comparison description).
The study used a reversal-withdrawal design for all three students. During the baseline/withdrawal condition, students used self-monitoring techniques. The teacher asked the student to set a goal for a 5-minute period. After 5 minutes had passed, the student would note whether he was on task. At the end of the lesson, the student tallied the number of times he was on task. Isaac and Ben’s teachers could use prompts for on-task behavior; but all three teachers were told to limit attention to positive behaviors.
Support for implementation
The researchers trained the teachers on the self-monitoring component, provided a protocol, and trained teachers on how to use consequences for appropriate and disruptive behavior.