The study was conducted in an urban elementary school. The school’s student population was 53% Caucasian, 40% Hispanic, and 7% other ethnicity; 67% of the students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch. Eduardo’s intervention took place in a third-grade general education classroom with 23 students.
The study sample included two 8-year-old boys, Eduardo and Justin, who were determined to be at risk for an emotional and behavioral disorder. Eduardo demonstrated high rates of disruptive and off-task behavior in the classroom. He had recently arrived at the school from Ecuador, but spoke English and no longer qualified for English as a second language services. He performed below grade level in math and reading and received daily tutoring in those subjects.
The experiment for Justin did not meet WWC pilot single-case design standards because it does not include at least three attempts to demonstrate an intervention effect at three different points in time; thus, this experiment is not described in this report or included in the ratings of effectiveness.
Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) procedures, including a teacher interview, observations conducted across different academic subject times, identification of problem behaviors and alternative positive behaviors, and a survey to identify potential reinforcers, determined that Eduardo’s problem behavior was caused by the lack of attention he received in his classroom. Specifically, there was a low rate of reinforcement, especially attention-based reinforcement by the teacher and peers, for appropriate behavior. The study examined the effects of an individualized FBA-based intervention called Positive Behavior Support that was directly aligned to Eduardo’s needs and included self-monitoring, peer and teacher support and attention, and reinforcement for appropriate behavior, using tokens and praise.
The study used a reversal-withdrawal design. During the baseline/withdrawal condition, there was no formal behavior management system in place in the classroom. Observations revealed that the teacher would occasionally praise students or call out to the class that they were doing well. Consequences for inappropriate behavior were inconsistent.
Support for implementation
Eduardo’s classroom teacher was trained by a behavior specialist, who presented an overview of the intervention plan and the role of the peer partner. The teacher also learned about the process for providing reinforcement and praise. Eduardo’s teacher then trained the student pair (Eduardo and his peer) in her class, through two 1-hour sessions. A training checklist was used by the teacher to verify the mastery of items.