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Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a functional assessment-based self-management strategy on the problem classroom behavior of a seventh-grade student identified as having emotional and/or behavioral disorders. On the basis of data obtained from functional assessment interviews and direct observations, the student was taught a self-management strategy that consisted of self-recording work completion and appropriate hand raising, self-instruction on "keeping his cool," and self-recruitment of adult attention. An ABAB design was used to evaluate the impact of the self-management package. The results indicated that the self-management package was associated with increases in work completion and percentage of intervals of on-task behavior, as well as decreases in percentage of intervals of talk-outs.
Students who engage in low rates of prosocial behavior and high rates of inappropriate behaviors are significantly at risk of academic failure, social failure, and placement in restrictive academic settings. This pattern of behavior is one of the defining characteristics of students with emotional and/or behavioral disorders (EBD; Mathur & Rutherford, 1996). Social skills training for students with EBD has been a primary approach to increase their use of prosocial behavior. The direct teaching of social skills is believed to increase a student's use of prosocial behavior, thus having a direct impact on increased academic and social success in classrooms (Walker, Colvin, & Ramsey, 1995). A technology for teaching social skills to children exists; however, the current literature indicates a need to improve the maintenance of newly acquired social skills (Sugai & Lewis, 1996).
When developing and implementing behavioral interventions, many educators apply an inefficient and often ineffective "train and hope" approach that does not systematically assess behavior in context as a source of information to individually tailor behavior support plans (Stokes & Baer, 1977). Instead, many educators use packaged programs that focus on teaching a wide array of global skills that all students should possess, but that do not address the specific skill deficits of individual students. Interventions based on this approach are often ineffective because they emphasize implementing an overriding reinforcement schedule that either worked at altering other behaviors of the same individual or worked with other students with similar inappropriate behaviors (Flannery, O'Neill, & Horner, 1995). Specifically, nonassessment-based approaches to behavior support planning do not collect and use information concerning the antecedent conditions that reliably predict problem behavior or assess the maintaining function associated with the problem behavior. To ignore strong preestablished relationships between problem behavior and contextual conditions limits the potential effectiveness and efficiency of interventions (Horner, 1994; Mace, 1994).
Current efforts to improve social skills training of students with EBD emphasize the application of functional assessment technology. Functional assessments enable informed decision making through the systematic collection of data concerning preestablished relationships between student behavior and context (setting events, antecedents, and maintaining function; Gable, 1996; Horner, 1994; O'Neill et al., 1997). The assessment of the relationship between target behavior and antecedent and maintaining consequence events allows educators to reliably predict the occurrence of problem behavior. In addition, a functional assessment allows the development of behavioral support plans that match intervention strategies with problem behavior function and intensity (Sugai, Lewis-Palmer, & Hagen, 1998). This process allows interventions to be developed that have a high probability of success (Dunlap et al., 1993; O'Neill et al., 1997).
Functional assessments involve the systematic collection of information to generate hypotheses concerning the unique relationship of setting events, antecedent events, problem behaviors, and maintaining consequences for an individual within a particular environment (Carr, 1977). O'Neill and his colleagues (1997) stated that hypothesis statements are tested through systematic direct observations designed to generate data that clearly support or deny these hypotheses. They pointed out that behavior support plans must fit with the values, resources, and skills of people responsible for carrying out the plan as well as focusing on promoting appropriate behavior while reducing inappropriate behaviors. Hagen and Sugai (1998) added that behavior support plans must be designed to produce positive short-term results if their use is to be maintained over time. This approach allows the development of behavior support plans that have a high probability of success to support the acquisition and maintenance of new prosocial behavior (Hagen & Sugai, 1998; O'Neill et al., 1997; Sugai et al., 1998).
Self-management strategies have been reported widely to support the acquisition, fluency, and generalization of a variety of behavioral skills of students with and without identified special education needs (Alberto & Troutman, 1998; Sugai & Lewis, 1996; Todd, Horner, & Sugai, 1999; Wolery, Bailey, & Sugai, 1988). Self-management involves teaching an individual two behaviors: the target behavior, if the individual has not already acquired it, and the specific self-management behavior being used. The self-management behavior taught can be a variety of specific procedures designed to promote student awareness of his or her own behavior and/or independent functioning (Nelson, Smith, Young, & Dodd, 1991). Typically self-management interventions combine more than one of four general types of self-management categories: self-monitoring, self-assessment, self-instruction, and self-reinforcement (for a more complete discussion of the range of self-management strategies, see Nelson et al., 1991). Self-monitoring involves training students to discriminate and to make a permanent record of occurrence/ nonoccurrence of antecedent conditions or target behaviors (Kamps & Tankersley, 1996). Self-monitoring has been used to help students identified as seriously emotionally disturbed increase their on-task behavior and academic efficiency, and to minimize talk-outs (Ninness, Fuerst, & Rutherford, 1995). Self-assessment or self-evaluation involves training students with EBD to compare their performance to a set trained criterion, and it has been used to maintain on-task behavior across settings (Rhode, Morgan, & Young, 1983). Self-assessment procedures are necessary for students to make the necessary discriminations involved in self-monitoring. Self-instruction requires students to prompt themselves to perform a certain behavior. Initially, specific prompts are typically made verbally and gradually faded. Burgio, Whitman, and Johnson (1980) successfully taught two elementary school students identified as educable mentally retarded to prompt themselves to "ignore distraction." Self-reinforcement involves an individual providing or arranging for delivery of a reinforcer to him- or herself for achieving a designated level of performance, and often is termed self-recruitment of reinforcement. For example, Todd et al. (1999) taught an elementary school student identified as learning disabled and referred to his school's teacher assistance team due to severe disruptive behavior (e.g., taunting peers, making inappropriate sexual comments to peers) to prompt his teacher for attention after he completed assignments, and this resulted in increases in work completion and appropriate behavior. In their review of self-management outcome research, Nelson et al. (1991) concluded that self-management procedures have been shown to be effective and useful in …