The study (for Aaron) took place in an eighth-grade science class in a rural Tennessee school district. The study (for Claire) took place in a general education classroom at an elementary school in a rural Tennessee school district. The district subscribed to a full inclusion model, and the schools used a three-tiered model of Positive Behavior Support (PBS).
Two students were part of the study sample. Aaron was a 14-year-old male in eighth grade who had antisocial behavior and was at risk for an emotional and behavioral disorder classification. In the classroom, Aaron was highly noncompliant and also demonstrated impaired relationships with peers, a negative attitude, many problem behaviors, and poor academic achievement. Aaron had received special education services since fourth grade for a learning disability in written expression.
The other student in the study sample was Claire, a 7-year-old first-grade student who had high levels of internalizing behavior and was at risk for emotional and behavioral disorder (EBD) classification. In the classroom, Claire seldom interacted with others, did not participate in class discussions, and struggled to respond to teacher questions. The authors used a changing criterion design to study the effects of FBA and the resulting FBA-based intervention on Claire’s social-emotional outcome (classroom participation). This experiment meets WWC pilot single-case design standards without reservations; however, the social-emotional competence domain does not reach the threshold to include single-case design evidence in the effectiveness ratings in this report.
Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) procedures, including teacher and parent interviews, behavior rating scales completed by teachers, and direct observations, determined that Aaron engaged in noncompliance to increase teacher attention and escape assigned tasks. Aaron’s FBA-based intervention involved providing him with a checklist of tasks to complete when responding to questions or assignments shown on the classroom work board. The teacher and special education aide in Aaron’s classroom gave positive reinforcement only after Aaron had successfully completed the work board assignment and the checklist. When Aaron exhibited the target behavior, the teacher or assistant gave a verbal redirect lasting no longer than 2 seconds; all other attention was withheld until Aaron had completed his work board assignment and checklist.
FBA procedures, including teacher and parent interviews, behavior rating scales completed by teachers, and direct observations, determined that Claire’s nonparticipation typically occurred during instruction periods where students were asked to respond in front of their peers, and that Claire was anxious about providing wrong answers in front of her teacher and peers. Claire’s FBA-based intervention involved Claire and her teacher setting a goal each morning for the number of times she would participate during each whole-class activity. Examples of participation and nonparticipation were modeled to Claire until she could identify the two behaviors and demonstrate them on her own. Claire was allowed a break from participation and from teacher and peer attention once she met her daily goal, but was no longer allowed to escape teacher and peer attention by displaying nonparticipation.
The study used a reversal-withdrawal design for Aaron. The baseline/withdrawal sessions took place in Aaron’s classroom and consisted of regular classroom practices. The study used a changing criterion design for Claire; the baseline condition consisted of regular classroom practices.
Support for implementation
Researchers provided Aaron’s teacher with training about the specific components of the intervention, including the reinforcements, and how each of the components was to be implemented correctly. Aaron’s teacher agreed to provide the checklist each day and sign the checklist following Aaron’s completion of tasks. Claire’s teacher participated in an initial 6-hour training workshop that provided explicit instruction and examples of the FBA procedures, followed by 1-hr weekly follow-up meetings. Claire’s teacher was also trained to implement reinforcement and elimination of nonparticipation.