The study took place in two classrooms at a public elementary school. Ahmad was in a kindergarten classroom for students with severe emotional disturbance (SED). The classroom contained eight children and was staffed by a teacher and a full-time aide; Ahmad’s study took place during language arts lessons. Juan and Shane were in a class for students who exhibited SED and included eight to nine children, a teacher, and an aide. Their grade-level was not reported.
Four students were part of the study sample. Ahmad was 5 years old and Juan and Shane were 11. All three students had been diagnosed as having an SED. Ahmad’s teacher reported that his most problematic behaviors at school were aggression, noncompliance, property destruction, inability to maintain task engagement, and leaving his area without permission. Juan’s disruptive behaviors included noise making, talking out, property destruction, excessive off-task behavior, and noncompliance. At the time of the study, Juan was taking Imipramine. In addition to SED, Shane was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; he demonstrated excessive off-task behavior, an inability to complete assignments, property destruction, and noncompliance.
The single-case design experiments for an additional student, Arnold, are not eligible for this review because he did not have an emotional disturbance, but had instead received a diagnosis of autism. As a result, Arnold’s single -case design experiments are not described in this report or included in the ratings of effectiveness.
Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) procedures for each student included interviews with teachers, other adults, and students, followed by direct observations. Based on the results, researchers developed FBA-based interventions that involved incorporating students’ interests in the curriculum. Ahmad’s intervention involved replacing standard alphabet letter worksheet pictures with pictures of cars and motorcycles. Juan’s intervention involved replacing the content of cursive sentences he was to copy from a handwriting workbook with content from Nintendo game booklets. The first phase of Shane’s intervention was identical to Juan’s, but later phases also involved presenting the assignments in smaller increments (one sentence at a time) and permitting him to copy directly onto the handwriting sheet.
The study used a reversal-withdrawal design for all three students. The baseline/withdrawal condition consisted of identical assignments as the intervention, without the curricular modifications. The classroom staff utilized their business-as-usual behavior management system throughout all phases of the study, whereby appropriate behavior was reinforced with tokens that were exchangeable for rewards on a weekly basis.
Support for implementation