Evidence-Based Teaching Strategies for Students With EBD

Joseph B. Ryan, Clemson University

Corey D. Pierce, University of Northern Colorado–Greeley

Paul Mooney, Louisiana State University

S tudents with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) struggle in school, perhaps

more so than any other group of students. Whereas it is commonly recognized that these children and adolescents have severe social skills deficits, which impede development of meaningful relationships with peers and teachers, it is also true that students with EBD evidence significant academic deficiencies. On average, these students perform 1.2–2 grade levels behind their peers while in elementary school (Trout, Nordness, Pierce, & Epstein, 2003).

Unfortunately, this discrepancy only worsens with age, and by the time these students reach high school, they are performing almost 3.5 grade levels below their peers, with less than one third of students with EBD functioning at or above grade level in any academic area (Coutinho, 1986; Epstein, Kinder, & Bursuck, 1989). This is not surprising, given that more than half of students with EBD also may meet one or more of the eligibility criteria for a learning disability (Glassberg, Hooper, & Mattison, 1999). These significant academic deficits have resulted in students with EBD attaining one of the worst graduation rates (32.1%) of students with any disability (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). Given that many students with EBD fail to master basic academic skills that are essential to functioning successfully within the community, this elevated school dropout rate only makes a successful transition to the job market more challenging (Gunter & Denny, 1998). As a result, 4 years after leaving high school, this population experiences a postschool

unemployment rate of 52% (D’Amico & Marder, 1991).

Despite these dismal academic outcomes, the majority of interventions conducted with these children have focused primarily on behavior modification, often neglecting glaring academic deficiencies (Ryan, Reid, & Epstein, 2004). Recently, however, researchers have begun to place an increased emphasis on addressing the academic deficits of students with EBD to increase their engagement in school, with the hope of improving graduation rates (Mooney, Epstein, Reid, & Nelson, 2003). Given the daunting challenges that teachers of students with EBD face while attempting to address these students’ social and academic deficiencies, it is important they incorporate empirically based teaching methods into their classrooms to maximize their teaching effectiveness.

Recently, researchers at the University of Nebraska’s Center for At-Risk Children’s Services (e.g., Epstein, Nelson, Trout, & Mooney, 2005) summarized the intervention literature targeted at improving the academic skills and performance of students with EBD served in public schools. Conclusions from analyses of this small body of literature indicated that positive outcomes were reported across participants, settings, and subject areas (Nelson, Benner, & Mooney, 2008). In general, these researchers divided academic interventions into three primary categories: (a) peer-mediated interventions (e.g., cross-age tutoring, classwide peer tutoring), in which the student’s peers were responsible for providing instruction; (b) self- mediated interventions (e.g., self-

monitoring, self-evaluation), in which the responsibility for implementing an intervention rested with the students themselves; and (c) teacher- mediated interventions (e.g., story mapping, mnemonics) wherein the teacher provided the academic instruction to the students.

The purpose of this manuscript is twofold: (a) to highlight findings of these literature reviews covering over three decades of research conducted with students with EBD; and (b) to provide teachers a condensed summary of teaching strategies that have demonstrated efficacy in educating some of the most challenging students in today’s schools.


Each author acted as lead researcher/author for one of three different academic literature reviews that assessed the efficacy of three types of academic interventions (i.e., peer-mediated, self-mediated, and teacher-mediated) for students with EBD (see Mooney, Ryan, Uhing, Reid, & Epstein, 2005; Pierce, Reid, & Epstein, 2004; Ryan et al., 2004). To be included in these three reviews, articles: (a) must have been published in a peer reviewed journal within the past 40 years; (b) must contain an original report of quasi-experimental or experimental research; (c) must include manipulation of an independent variable; and (d) must include at least one academic measure as a dependent variable. Study participants were required to have a verified emotional, behavioral, or conduct disorder, disability, or disturbance, either through the Individuals with Disabilities


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Education Act (IDEA) or classification systems of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV, or to be described as having behavioral or emotional problems while being educated in a self-contained classroom for students with EBD.


Peer-Mediated Interventions

Peer-mediated interventions require students to implement teacher- selected instruction for their peers as opposed to the more traditional method of teacher-led instruction (Hoff & Robinson, 2002). A wide variety of techniques fall under the

peer-mediated instruction category, including peer modeling, peer monitoring, peer network strategies, peer tutoring, cross-age tutoring, reverse-role tutoring, classwide peer tutoring (CWPT), peer-assisted learning strategies (PALS), classwide student tutoring teams, reciprocal peer tutoring, peer counseling, peer assessment, peer mentoring, and cooperative learning (Utley & Mortweet, 1997). A brief description for each of these instructional methodologies and the age groups (e.g., elementary and secondary) with which they have demonstrated efficacy is provided in Table 1.

After applying inclusion criteria, Ryan and colleagues (2004) identified

14 studies from nine different special education journals that involved peer-mediated interventions conducted with students with EBD. These studies included 169 participants, of whom 64% were boys and 16% were girls. Five of the studies (36%) were conducted with participants between the ages of 6 and 11 years (n 5 44), and the remaining 9 studies (64%) involved adolescents older than 12 years of age (n 5 125).

Overall, peer-mediated interventions demonstrated strongly positive findings relative to improving academic performance. As reported by effect size (ES), which represents the strength of an


Intervention Description

Evidence Base

Elementary Secondary

Classwide peer tutoring (CWPT)

Entire class simultaneously participates in tutoring dyads. During each tutoring session, students can participate as both tutor and tutee, or they can participate as either the tutor or tutee.


Cooperative learning Small teams composed of students with different levels of ability use a variety of learning activities to improve the team’s understanding of a subject. Each member of a team is responsible not only for learning what is taught but also for helping teammates learn.


Cross-age tutoring Older students are matched with younger students to deliver instruction. Tutors are typically at least 2 years older than the tutees. There do not need to be large differences in skill levels between the tutor and tutee.


Peer tutoring Students who need remedial support are paired with select tutors (perhaps highly skilled peers, peers also in need of remedial work, or cross-age tutors). Each member of the dyad may receive and provide tutoring in the same content area, or tutors can provide instruction in a content area in which they are highly skilled.


Peer-assisted learning strategies

A version of CWPT in which teachers identify children who require help on specific skills and the most appropriate children to help them learn those skills. Pairs are changed regularly, and over time, as students work on a variety of skills, all students have the opportunity to be ‘‘coaches’’ and ‘‘players.’’


Peer assessment Peers are used to assess the products or outcomes of learning of other students of similar status.


Peer modeling Students acting as peer models receive instruction in desired behaviors, then engage in these behaviors in front of students deficient in these areas. The teacher draws the student’s attention to the peer model and identifies the desired behaviors the student should emulate.


Peer reinforcement Peers provide reinforcement for appropriate responses within the natural environment. The purpose is to reinforce appropriate behaviors of students with disabilities by their peers.



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intervention or outcome through a numerical rating in which an ES of 0– 0.3 is considered small, 0.3–0.8 is medium, and greater than 0.8 is large (Cohen, 1988), the results were quite remarkable. The authors reported that the overall ES of peer-mediated interventions was 1.875. When evaluating the effectiveness of peer- mediated interventions across academic subject areas, the findings were equally impressive, with large gains seen in math (2.08), history (1.15), and reading (0.81). In addition, Ryan et al. (2004) found that students benefited from this form of instruction regardless of the role they held, be it as tutor (2.02), tutee (0.63), or when sharing both roles (2.12). Similar positive findings were reported even across age groups, be they in elementary grades or high school. Finally, and critical to practitioners, both the students and teachers enjoyed using peer-mediated interventions, reporting high levels of consumer satisfaction. Students made positive comments, claiming that tutoring helped them understand their peers’ needs (e.g., empathy), as well as how to ignore inappropriate behavior.

Two specific peer-mediated interventions that demonstrated high

levels of efficacy were cross-age and same-age peer tutoring. A successful example of cross-age peer tutoring was conducted by Cochran, Feng, Cartledge, and Hamilton (1993). In this study a special education teacher had half her class of fifth-grade African American boys acting as tutors for teaching sight words to younger students. The tutees were low-performing second-grade African American boys also identified with EBD. Following 8 weeks of peer tutoring sessions that lasted approximately 30 minutes per day, both the tutors and tutees showed greater increases in both sight words and positive social interactions than did their classmates who had not participated in peer tutoring.

Similarly, Falk and Wehby (2001) demonstrated the efficacy of same- age peer tutoring by implementing an instructional program called kindergarten peer-assisted learning strategy (K-PALS), in which higher- functioning readers were paired with lower-performing classmates for reading instruction. The students swapped roles throughout the semester, each taking turns as either the coach or reader during a variety of activities developed to enhance

reader fluency and comprehension. Results of the study found that students increased reading skills both in letter-sound correspondence and in blending sounds.

In conclusion, Ryan and colleagues’ (2004) review of peer- mediated interventions demonstrated that this form of instruction has the ability to produce large academic gains for students with EBD in a manner that both teachers and students enjoy. In addition, Utley and Mortweet (1997) posited that peer- mediated interventions provide both an effective means for offsetting high teacher-pupil ratios and an effective alternative to one-on-one instruction for students with severe academic deficiencies.

Self-Mediated Interventions

Self-mediated interventions are those in which the students themselves are responsible for providing academic instruction. There are five common types of self- mediated interventions (also known as self-management or self-regulation interventions), including self- monitoring, self-evaluation, self- instruction, goal setting, and strategy instruction. Table 2 provides a brief


Intervention Description

Evidence Base

Elementary Secondary

Self-monitoring A two-stage process of observing and recording one’s behavior wherein the student: (a) discriminates occurrence/nonoccurrence of a target behavior; and (b) self-records some aspect of the target behavior.


Self-evaluation A process wherein a student compares her/his performance to a previously established criterion set by student or teacher (e.g., improvement of performance over time) and is awarded reinforcement based on achieving the criterion.


Self-instruction A procedure wherein a student uses self-statements to direct behavior.


Goal setting A process wherein a student self-selects a behavioral target (e.g., term paper completion), which serves to structure student effort, provide information on progress, and motivate performance.


Strategy instruction A process wherein a student is taught a series of steps to independently follow in solving a problem or achieving an outcome.


Note. Goal-setting was used as part of a multicomponent intervention.


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description of each and the specific age groups with which they have demonstrated efficacy, based on current research. In self-mediated interventions, teachers are initially responsible for teaching students how to carry out the instructional activities and ensuring that students can, in fact, complete the tasks. Eventually, the responsibility for carrying out the task transfers to the student.

In all, Mooney and colleagues (2005) identified 22 studies that met inclusionary criteria. These studies involved 78 participants. Students ages 5–11 were included in 12 of the studies (n 5 40), with 9 of the studies including only students in that age group. Students 12 years of age and older were participants in 8 studies (n 5 38) by themselves and in 3 studies with younger age students (i.e., 5- to 11-year-olds).

Overall, Mooney and colleagues’ (2005) review of self-mediated interventions demonstrated positive findings for these academic interventions. The ES or strength of these interventions was impressive. The authors found the overall ES of self-mediated interventions was large (1.80). Individual ESs for each specific type of self-mediated intervention were also large, including those for self-monitoring (1.90), self-evaluation (1.13), strategy instruction (1.75), and self-instruction (2.71). When comparing the effectiveness of these interventions for specific academic subject areas, self-mediated interventions resulted in large gains in writing (1.13), math (1.97), reading (2.28), and social studies (2.66). A review of Table 2 indicates that self- mediated interventions were more likely to be used in research aimed at secondary-age students.

We highlight two specific examples of effective self-mediated interventions. The first intervention involves a self-monitoring intervention, whereas the second is a strategy-instruction intervention. Regarding self-monitoring, three middle school boys, ages 13–15 years,

were taught to monitor their own academic accuracy and productivity across subject areas and during independent work time in the self- contained classroom in which they were enrolled (Carr & Punzo, 1993). Accuracy in reading, for example, was defined as the number of items completed correctly divided by the number of items completed. Productivity was defined as the number of items completed divided by the number of items given. Initially, data were gathered on student performance during independent work times during which students could ask questions about assignments but were expected to complete worksheet activities by themselves and then turn them in. The teacher then graded the students’ work and returned it to them without verbal feedback.

Self-mediated intervention training in Carr and Punzo (1993) involved the teacher completing the following steps: (a) providing students an explicit definition of academic achievement, a rationale for improving accuracy and productivity, and examples of achievement from students’ own written work; (b) teaching students to count the number of items given, completed, and completed accurately, as well as how to record those numbers on a self-recording sheet; (c) modeling accurate item counting and recording; and (d) asking students to repeat the definition of achievement and rationale for improved importance and to demonstrate accurate self- recording procedures. Following training, data gathering indicated that all three boys improved their accuracy and productivity percentages across subject areas. Improvements also were noted in on- task behavior. Additionally, teacher checks of students’ self-recording efforts indicated that students were well able to accurately carry out the tasks.

A second effective self- management strategy was strategy instruction. Skinner, Belfiore, and

Pierce (1992) evaluated the effects of cover, copy, and compare (CCC), an instructional technique that promotes high rates of correct and overt student academic responses across multiple content areas. CCC essentially involves students learning and completing the following steps: (a) looking at an item and solution; (b) covering the item and solution; (c) writing the item and solution; and (d) comparing their written response with the original item and solution to check its accuracy. Students whose comparisons are correct move on to the next item in their seatwork, whereas students whose written responses are incorrect repeat the process until their written work is correct (Skinner, Ford, & Yunker, 1991). Skinner et al. (1992) applied the process to social studies with seven upper elementary-aged students served in a self-contained classroom. The students’ teacher taught the students the steps in CCC and evaluated its effects on students’ abilities to accurately identify states on a map of the United States. Findings indicated that not only did the intervention result in improved average class accuracy over a baseline condition, but that students rated the procedure as highly acceptable as well.

In conclusion, similar to peer- administered treatments, self- mediated interventions have demonstrated their ability to produce large academic gains for students with EBD across subject areas. Teachers, then, can fully expect students, particularly secondary students, to monitor their own academic performance as well as to set goals for academic improvement.

Teacher-Mediated Interventions

Teacher-mediated interventions are those in which the teacher (or an administrator of the intervention other than the student himself/ herself or a peer) takes responsibility for treatment, through manipulation of antecedents and/or consequences. Table 3 provides a description of interventions focusing on the


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Antecedent Interventions Description

Evidence Base

Elementary Secondary

Verbalize math problems

A process wherein teachers ask students to say math problems aloud before solving them.


Cubicles A process wherein teachers have students complete their work at their desk in study cubicles enclosed on three sides.


Structured academic tasks

A process wherein teachers require students to complete specific tasks in a sequential order.


Modeling, rehearsal, and feedback

A process wherein teachers model a skill, have the student rehearse the skill, and provide direct feedback about the student’s performance.


Teacher planning strategies

A process wherein teachers are trained to use daily planning procedures based on trend analysis and error analysis.


Life space interviewing Crisis intervention technique in which a student’s behavior is discussed with him/her at the time of the problem’s occurrence. Practitioners of this approach believe that the student is most receptive to ideas for change when he or she is in crisis.


Adjusting task difficulty Teachers adjusted difficulty of arithmetic tasks depending upon a student’s success level and failure level.


Previewing A comprehension strategy that involves activating prior knowledge, predicting, and setting a purpose to improve reading performance.


Sequential prompting Teachers use multiple levels of prompts (administered in order from most independent to most dependent) to increase academic performance.


Adjusting presentation and point-delivery rate

Teachers used two presentation rates and two point-delivery rates to determine best combination for higher student performance.


Teach test-taking skills Teachers taught students four specific test-taking skills: stem options, absurd options, similar options, and specific determiners.


Mnemonic instruction A memory-enhancing instructional strategy that involves teaching students to link new information being taught to information they already know to help students retain specific information.


Taped words and drill instruction

Procedure in which students read lists of words along with a tape that is presented at 80 words per minute.


Trial-and-error versus time delay

Teacher allowed students either to read a word immediately when shown a list or to pause until the teacher reads the word and then respond.


Personalized system of instruction

Teachers used written study objectives, division of the course into small units of material, use of the written word, student self-pacing through the curriculum, a high-mastery criteria for advancement to next unit of material, immediate feedback for exams, and use of student tutors to improve spelling performance.


Structured instructional system

Teachers implemented a modified version of the School Survival Skills Curriculum.


Intertrial interval duration

Teachers adjusted amount of time that occurred between a student reading a word and the presentation of the next word, zero or 5 seconds.


Incorporating student interest

Teachers considered student interest in development and content of lesson.


Teacher versus child control of choice of task and reinforcement

Teachers selected rewards and tasks or allowed students to choose rewards and tasks from a predetermined list.


Story mapping Process that creates a visual depiction of the settings or the sequence of major events and actions of story characters. Procedure helps students identify the characters, setting, problems, events, and outcomes in narrative text to increase student comprehension.


(Continued on p6)


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manipulation of antecedents. These interventions attempt to identify ways in which teachers can intervene before inappropriate behaviors occur that negatively impact academic performance. Table 4 shows interventions that target manipulation of consequences. These interventions help teachers determine what reinforces students’ appropriate responses to instruction. Examples of teacher-mediated interventions include token economies, contingency contracts, adjustments to task difficulty, and story mapping. In each of these interventions, the teacher is in charge of developing and implementing the treatment to produce a change in academic (e.g., math) skills.

Overall, 30 studies from 11 different journals met criteria for

inclusion in Pierce and colleagues’ (2004) teacher-mediated review. There were 242 participants, 78% of whom were boys and 14% were girls. The remaining 8% of the participants were in 5 studies that did not provide gender information. Forty-seven percent of the participants were 5– 11 years old, and 40% were 12 years or older. Thirteen percent of the studies did not report age-specific participant characteristics.

Pierce and colleagues’ (2004) review of teacher-mediated interventions demonstrated positive findings, with more than 90% of the studies reviewed showing positive outcomes. The overall mean ES for all teacher-mediated studies was 1.05. Effects of treatment across both antecedent- and consequence-focused interventions were large in

magnitude (i.e., ESs of 1.31 and 0.80, respectively). When comparing efficacy across subject areas, teacher- mediated interventions appeared to be most successful in reading, resulting in very high ESs ranging from 1.12–2.68. Gains in math were successful, but less dramatic, with low to moderate ESs ranging from 0.22–0.72.

Although the findings of Pierce and colleagues (2004) were both impressive and important for our field, two different but equally striking findings emerged. First, these interventions were effective despite being implemented only for very short durations (i.e., an average of 22 days per treatment). It is encouraging to know that these types of interventions can have such a positive impact over such a short


Consequence Intervention Study

Evidence Base

Elementary Secondary

Token reinforcement system

Teachers provided points or tokens to students for retention of information gained while watching television news.


Contingency reinforcers Teachers examined effect of teacher-specified contingencies versus student-specified contingencies to improve academic performance.


Use of free time Teacher provides increasing amounts of free time to students based on increasing number of sight words learned.


Academic contracting Teachers contracted with student to earn specified reinforcer for predetermined levels of academic improvement.


Written feedback Teacher provides written feedback on accuracy in reading to determine effects on improvement in reading.


Bonus contingency in token program

Teacher added bonus contingencies into a standard token economy when students earned 80% or higher accuracy on math assignments.


Antecedent Interventions Description

Evidence Base

Elementary Secondary

Choice-making opportunities

Teacher used a six-step method for choice making: Offer student two or more options, ask student to make choice, provide wait time to make choice, wait for individual’s response, reinforce with option chosen, and prompt student to make choice if one is not made.


Individual curricular modification

Teachers review functional behavioral assessment results for students to determine instructional and curricular variables associated with undesirable behavior during academic assignment completion.


Table 3 (Continued)


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duration. Still, research has shown that we may not be maintaining treatments long enough to effect significant, durable change for students with EBD (McConaughy, Kay, & Fitzgerald, 2000). Second, it was difficult to judge the functional value of these interventions, because only 23% of the studies reviewed reported any type of social validity information. That is, it is difficult to determine whether the interventions reviewed were useful and useable for teachers in other classrooms (Ruhl & Berlinghoff, 1992). This leaves teachers who read these studies with few options but to infer judgment about the potential effectiveness of the interventions in their own classrooms.

Several successful examples of teacher-mediated instruction are provided. The first involves the use of personalized systems of instruction (PSI) to improve spelling performance of 10 elementary-aged boys with EBD (McLaughlin, 1991). Researchers examined the number of spelling tests students passed with 100% accuracy. Initially, data were collected on student spelling performance given regular spelling instruction. Data were then collected to determine student performance in spelling when PSI was used and students were not given the opportunity to retake a spelling test. Finally, data were collected on student performance on spelling tests when PSI was implemented and retakes were allowed. Teacher- mediated intervention training in McLaughlin (1991) involved accurate implementation of PSI. Teachers were trained in the following areas: (a) written study objectives, (b) division of course content into smaller units, (c) use of the written word, (d) student self-pacing through the curricula, (e) a high-mastery criteria to advance to the next unit of material, (f) immediate feedback as to performance on exams or quizzes, and (g) the use of student proctors or tutors. Following training and implementation, results indicated

that student performance on spelling tests increased each week with a large improvement in spelling performance overall.

Another example of a successful teacher-mediated intervention involved the use of story mapping to improve reading comprehension skills of students with EBD (Babyack, Koorland, & Mathes, 2000). Fourth- and fifth-grade students took part in a program that was designed to improve academic skills and provide behavior support. The researchers used a method that included teaching the parts of a story and the use of Five Story Parts worksheets, focusing on the main character, setting, problem in the story, story outcome, and major events. Students were asked a series of eight questions relating to the story mapping worksheet after they read a story (e.g., When did the story take place? What four things that happened when ______ tried to solve the problem?). Overall, results showed students made large gains in their reading comprehension skills.

In conclusion, we have evidence to support the use of teacher- mediated interventions for improving the academic performance of students with EBD. Many of the interventions reviewed in Tables 3 and 4 showed the potential for substantial improvement of various academic skills for students with EBD. However, results of Pierce et al. (2004) also indicated that there are still issues within this body of research that need to be addressed before we can confidently generalize some of the findings demonstrated in the studies reviewed to wider populations of students.


Given that research has demonstrated that poor academic performance frequently leads to negative outcomes for students with EBD in both the short term (e.g., school failure and increased dropout rates), and long term (e.g., unsuccessful transition to the job

market and community) (U.S. Department of Education, 2006), it is critical for educators to properly address the serious academic deficiencies of students with EBD. Currently, there is a clear and forceful call for educators to incorporate evidence-based procedures in schools. In fact, the essence of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was for schools to focus on academic instruction and methods that have been proven effective. The purpose of this paper was to provide educators a review of academic interventions (i.e., peer-, self-, and teacher-mediated) that have been demonstrated to be effective for teaching students with EBD.

Limitations. It is important to remember that although the academic interventions discussed herein have resulted in positive outcomes for students with EBD, many of the studies were conducted with relatively few students. This means that many of the studies did not include a representative sampling of all types of students with EBD (e.g., female, Hispanic). Hence, it is difficult to generalize these findings to all students with EBD. In order to strengthen these findings, additional studies will need to be conducted in the future on a larger scale. In addition, the academic interventions discussed were conducted under rigorous monitoring and supervision to ensure the specific interventions were implemented as intended. Deviation from the prescribed procedures may impact any intervention’s efficacy.

Implications. Educators of students with EBD realize that the students they teach face an inordinate combination of academic and social challenges in comparison with many of their peers. Researchers have long argued over the causal relationship between a child’s behavior and his or her poor academic performance. Some researchers today acknowledge that there is likely a reciprocal relationship between the two variables (Trout, Nordness, Pierce, &


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Epstein, 2003). To help enhance these students’ chances of success in school and as adults within the community, it behooves teachers to incorporate empirically based teaching methods within their classrooms. The authors highly encourage practitioners to read further about each of these interventions to determine which methods would be most suitable to incorporate into their particular classroom settings.

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Children, 29(5), 1–23.


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Brief Report: Integrating Social-Emotional Learning with Literacy Instruction: An Intervention for Children

at Risk for Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Ann Daunic, Nancy Corbett, Stephen Smith, Tia Barnes, Lourdes Santiago- Poventud, Pam Chalfant, Donna Pitts, and Jeisha Gleaton

University of Florida

ABSTRACT: It is widely believed that children’s social-emotional growth and academic learning are inextricably connected. Pressured by high-stakes assessments, however, school professionals find it difficult to devote adequate time to children’s social/behavioral development. As a response, we developed and piloted Social-Emotional Learning Foundations (SELE), a curriculum for students at risk for emotional or behavioral problems that merges instruction in social-emotional learning with early literacy skills. Designed for small-group instruction, the SELE curriculum provides teachers multiple opportunities to extend language and promote emotional and behavioral self-regulation while teaching early literacy skills that include vocabulary development and comprehension. This preliminary study was used to explore intervention feasibility, pilot implementation, and measurement protocols and to provide some evidence in support of further study. Findings from the pilot implementation in eight kindergarten classrooms indicated that SELE lessons improved teacher- reported executive function, internalizing behavior, and school-related competence. As a preface to a more rigorously designed efficacy study, the pilot study results provide preliminary evidence that integrating social-emotional learning and literacy instruction may be a viable strategy for promoting self-regulation in the service of positive social and academic outcomes for children at risk.

• Social-emotional growth and academic learning do not occur on parallel tracks but are inextricably connected (Downer & Pianta, 2006; Riggs, Greenberg, Kusche, & Pentz, 2006). Although policy initiatives (i.e.. Race to the Top; Common Core State Standards) are beginning to address some aspects of social- emotional learning (SEL), current accountabil- ity measures emphasize academic goals. Even when teachers recognize SEL’s importance, they are hard pressed to pay it adequate attention because of the pressure to prepare children for high-stakes assessments that may occur as early as first grade (Bridgeland, Bruce, & Hariharan, 2013; Elias, Bruene-Butler, Blum, & Schuyler, 2000; Greenberg et al., 2003).

Moreover, a significant number of today’s young children have emotional and behavioral difficulties described as serious and chronic (Blair & Diamond, 2008). Emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) tend to remain stable from early childhood on and are often predictive of later problems and a variety of negative outcomes in adolescence and adult- hood (Lochman, Dunn, & Klimes-Dougan,

1993). Recently, the problems of children with EBD, who typically fail to understand complex social situations, interact effectively, and recognize and/or manage their emotions, have been linked to the poor development of self- regulation (e.g., Raine, 2002; Seguin & Zelazo, 2005). According to recent studies in devel- opmental neuropsychology (Graziano, Reavis, Keane, & Calkins, 2007; Hughes, 2011; Rueda, Posner, & Rothbart, 2005), deficient self-regulation, in turn, has been linked to deficits in executive function (EF). Although researchers have debated the specific con- structs involved (Carlson, 2005; Gioia, Isquith, Retzlaff, & Espy, 2002), most agree that EE comprises a collection of interrelated cognitive processes that include inhibition of impulses, cognitive or attentional flexibility, working memory, and monitoring. Executive function is hypothesized to contribute significantly to social-cognitive and behavioral functioning (Blakemore & Choudhury, 2006; Riggs et al., 2006), and as early as kindergarten, emotional and behavioral self-regulation has been linked to both social-emotional and academic learn- ing (Graziano et al., 2007).

Behavioral Disorders, 39 (1), 43-51 N o v e m b e r 2 0 1 3 / 4 3

Integrating Social-Emotional Learning and Literacy

The same EE skills that are associated with the self-regulation of emotions and behavior are also involved in the comprehension of oral and written language (i.e., early literacy; McClelland et al., 2007). For example, in her discussion of how the development of self- regulation influences reading comprehension, Westby (2004) outlined four critical cognitive processes that include or are related to EF: emotional control, working memory, internal- ization of self-directed speech, and problem solving. The development of children’s self- talk, critical to self-regulation, is realized through development in receptive and expres- sive vocabulary, the expansion of background knowledge, and an increasing understanding of relations among concepts. As children develop self-talk, therefore, they are both strengthening language and using language to regulate their emotional and behavioral re- sponses (Greenberg, 2006; Singer & Bashir, 1999).

Due in part to these theoretical links and in part to the practical issue of when to devote time to SEL, researchers and practitioners are beginning to merge social-emotional program- ming with academic curricula. Positive find- ings to date from this integration have included increased attention, motivation, and socially competent behavior; reductions in aggressive and disruptive behavior (see Brackett, Rivers, Reyes, & Salovey, 2012; Jones, Brown, & Aber, 2011; Shechtman & Yaman, 2012); gains in math and reading achievement Cones et al., 2011; Payton et al., 2008); and improved student grades (Brackett et al., 2012). Most integrated programs have been implemented at the universal level (whole-class instruction) rather than as selective or targeted interven- tions for students displaying significant behav- ior problems (see Payton et al., 2008).

Concurrently, in the primary grades, an increasing amount of instructional time is spent in literacy/language arts (i.e., reading, writing, speaking, and listening; Center on Education Policy, 2007). In addition to pho- nemics and phonological awareness, teachers are responsible for promoting primary stu- dents’ oral language, which is foundational to understanding social conventions for con- versations, learning new vocabulary, and developing reading comprehension skills (Na- tional Governors Association Center for Best

Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010). Therefore, in light of (a) the promising findings on integrated SEL instruc- tion, (b) the relative lack of selective or targeted interventions for young children at risk for EBD, and (c) the current emphasis on literacy in the primary grades, we developed and piloted Social-Emotional Learning Foun- dations (SELF), an SEL curriculum embedded in literacy instruction for children at risk for emotional and behavioral problems in the primary grades.

SELF extends current work in integrated social-emotional and academic learning (Bar- nett, Jung, Yarosz, Thomas, & Hornbeck, 2006; Elias & Bruene-Butler, 2005; Brown, Roderick, Lantieri, & Aber, 2004) by embed- ding SEL within supplemental, small-group reading instruction for children who may be at risk for developing EBD. The Social-Emo- tional Learning Foundations’ intentionally de- signed pedagogy fosters the development of language and self-regulatory skills foundation- al to both social-emotional adjustment and literacy. Teachers explicitly instruct students in age-appropriate critical SEL competencies us- ing the interactive storybook reading strategies of dialogic reading (DR; Lonigan & White- hurst, 1998; Whitehurst, Zevenbergen, Crone, Schultz, Velting, & Fischel, 1999) and system- atic vocabulary development. When used with storybooks containing social-emotional con- tent, these techniques can help students develop emotional and cognitive self-regula- tion and meet the demands of successful social-emotional and academic development.

Description of the SELF Curriculum

SELF lessons cover five social-emotional learning competencies: self-awareness, self- management, social awareness, relationship management, and responsible decision mak- ing (see Zins, Bloodworth, Weissberg, & Walberg, 2004). Following an introductory lesson, the pilot study curriculum consisted of five carefully coordinated units (one unit per competency), each composed of three lessons. Each topic/unit was introduced with a story- book that the teacher could read in one lesson. We selected authentic children’s literature using the following specific criteria: develop- mental appropriateness, cultural and ethnic diversity, clear story structure with social- emotional topics to which students could

4 4 / November 2013 Behavioral Disorders, 39 (1), 43-51

relate, and illustrations that support social- emotional vocabulary and help narrate the story.

SELF lessons were taught two to three times per week for 20 min each in small groups (three to four students) to maximize opportunities to promote receptive and ex- pressive language, particularly language relat- ed to SEL. In the first lesson in each topic, the teacher introduced the social-emotional con- cept and vocabulary, tapped background knowledge, and read the designated story- book, initiating discussion with four to five prompts related to the SEL objective. The second lesson in each topic incorporated a re-reading of the storybook using DR to promote more in-depth discussion, and the third lesson focused on application of social- emotional concepts through a variety of activities.

Storybook reading, used in the first lesson for each topic, is a frequently occurring kindergarten activity that provides a socially interactive context within which children can learn and apply verbal and conceptual skills (Neuman, 1996) and participate in increasing- ly sophisticated conceptual conversations (Dickinson & Tabors, 2001). Through small- group discussions about respecting others or making responsible decisions, for example, the teacher facilitates early literacy skill acquisi- tion, such as vocabulary knowledge and comprehension of spoken and written lan- guage (see Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998; Teale, 2003).

A version of DR, used during the first and second lessons in each SELF topic, is used to enhance students’ language and comprehen- sion (Arnold, Lonigan, Whitehurst, & Epstein, 1994; Lonigan & Whitehurst, 1998; Valdez- Menchaca & Whitehurst, 1992; Whitehurst et al., 1999). When implemented with children 2 to 6 years old from low-Income families, DR had positive effects on oral language, a critical aspect of behavioral self-regulation (McClel- land et al., 2007), emergent literacy (Arnold et al., 1994; Lonigan, Anthony, Bloomfield, Dyer, & Samwel, 1999), and reading compre- hension (Paris & Paris, 2003). As the teacher re- reads the storybook, DR provides a framework that promotes active learning and fosters dialog (Al Otaiba, 2004). In each DR lesson, the teacher asks ” w h ” (what, where, why) ques- tions, models mature language while repeating what the child says, affirms correct responses, and provides feedback by scaffolding partially

correct or incorrect responses. The teacher scaffolds and extends children’s responses using specific types of prompts that include completion, recall, open ended, and distancing (requiring the child to relate story content to his or her own life and consider the thoughts and feelings of others). Finally, students are asked to retell or summarize the story in their own words. Collectively, these tasks require children to attend to instructions, respond when asked (inhibit impulsive responses), plan and initiate their responses, use working memory to remember instructions, and use self-talk to guide retrieval of information and monitor performance, that is, to use EF and language as they develop and practice skills related to effective and efficient social and academic behavior.

Targeted vocabulary instruction is incor- porated in all SELF lessons to engage children in discussions related to the social-emotional content of the book and foster comprehension (Beck & McKeown, 2001; Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002). Teachers explicitly teach two to four designated words that occur in the selected storybook or are related to the specific SEL lesson objective and denote concepts children can identify with and use in conver- sation. Social-Emotional Learning Foundations teachers (a) pronounce the vocabulary word, (b) explain its meaning using words students already know, (c) use it in multiple contexts, and (d) guide activities that require students to use the word appropriately.

The application of social-emotional con- cepts during the third lesson in each topic requires students to engage in activities such as role-plays and scenarios that require social decision making and generalization of what they have learned to other contexts. Students engage in authentic discourse using social- emotional vocabulary (Pellegrini & Galda, 1991), practice using social conventions of conversation (i.e., turn taking, making eye contact), and apply emotional and behavioral self-regulation strategies (e.g.. Breathe and Think) to real-life situations. Table 7 provides an overview and examples of these lesson components using a specific topic (empathy) and associated objective(s).

In sum, the carefully coordinated combi- nation of theoretically based instructional strategies used in SELF enables the teacher to emphasize critical SEL concepts and vocabu- lary and helps students generalize learned skills to novel situations within and outside of

Behavioral Disorders, 39 (1), 43-51 November 2013 / 45

TABLE 1 Overview of SELF Lesson Components

Component SEL Topic: Empathy Objective(s)

Introduction of social- emotional concept and vocabulary

Building background for social-emotional and academic learning

Read aloud with dialogic prompts

Application of social- emotional concept

Teacher and students talk about a time wiien they felt sick, who cared for them and how they were comforted and soothed

Teacher provides student-friendly definition for two to four words related to empathy (e.g., Wtien you comfort 5omeor}e, you do or say something to help them fee! better), conducts picture walk through book. Bear Feels Sick, models thoughts using self-talk, and asks students to look for things Bear’s friends do to care for and soothe him

Teacher rereads storybook and promotes conversation, e.g.. What are some things Bear does to soothe and comfort his friends while they’re sick?

Teacher prompts students to relate content to their lives in their own words, e.g.. Are there things you’d like friends to do to care for you when you’re sick?

Batty (puppet) tells children he is feeling sick, and teacher asks them to show how they can soothe Batty

Children talk with a partner about what they can do to show how they care for and comfort a friend in a different situation

Recognize empathetic feelings and describe an experience of being cared for and of caring for others

Understand social-emotional vocabulary and use it in conversation;

Identify expressions of empathy in pictures

Engage in dialog about a social-emotional concept, understanding and using accurate and sophisticated language

Generalize concept of empathy to novel situations;

Demonstrate self-regulation by making appropriate decisions;

Practice social conventions of conversation

Note. Targeted vocabulary words are in bold. Additional information about the SELF curriculum can be accessed through the Cognitive Behavioral Research Croup at the University of Florida (http://education.ufl.edu/cognitive-behavioral-research-group/).

the small-group setting. We hypothesized that these components, taught within the context of literacy instruction, would effect positive change in teacher-reported EF-related skills associated with emotional and behavioral self- regulation, outcomes related to social-emo- tional behavior, and early reading comprehen- sion, as illustrated in Figure 1.

The purpose of this pilot study was to (a) determine the feasibility of integrating this selective, small-group SEL intervention within the context of literacy instruction, (b) pilot implementation protocols, and (c) collect preliminary data to initiate an examination of its potential for improving social-behavioral outcomes.


Setting and Participants

To pilot SELF, we worked in two large elementary schools in north central Florida with a racial and socioeconomic diversity of students. We selected the schools because of their interest in the research; one served as the treatment condition and the other as a business-as-usual (BAU) control condition. We queried teachers in the BAU condition and

verified that teachers were not providing substantive SEL curricula or direct instruction in SEL competencies. Teachers did report that on occasion they used morning meetings to discuss SEL-related topics, such as getting along, or mentioned school- or classroom- related behavioral goals during the day.

To select participants, kindergarten teach- ers (8 treatment, 10 control) identified three to five children with behavioral risk, ruling out children with other significant disabilities (e.g., autism, intellectual disability), using school re- sources such as the Early Childhood Observa- tion System (ECOS), a Florida school readiness measure for assessing kindergarten children in several domains, including Language and Literacy and Social and Personal Skills. The treatment group consisted of 26 boys and 4 girls; 16 were Black, 11 were White, 2 were Hispanic, and 1 was multiracial. The control group consisted of 23 boys and 4 girls, of whom 15 were Black, 8 White, 3 multiracial, and 1 Hispanic. All participants spoke English as their primary language.

Assessment of Treatment Efficacy

We used the following measures to con- duct a preliminary examination of SELF effects

46 / November 2013 Behavioral Disorders, 39 (1), 43-51

SELF Intervention Components

Change Mechanisms


Reading Storybooks with Sociai-Emotionai Content

Targeted Vocabuiary Instruction

Dialogic Reading

Application of Social- I Emotional Concepts & Sl<ills I

Seif-Reguiatlon (EF) o Cognitive Flexibility o Inhibition o Working Memory o Emotion Control o Monitoring


Behavioral Adjustment o Internaiizing o Externalizing o Sociai Skills o Competence

Reading Comprehension

Figure 1. Theory of Change.

on outcomes related to self-regulation, behav- ior, and literacy. The Behavior Rating Inven- tory of Executive Function Teacher Form (BRIEE; Gioia, Isquith, Guy, & Kenworthy, 2000) evaluates teacher-reported emotional and behavioral self-regulation within the school context. The Teacher Eorm contains 86 items comprising 8 clinical scales (and 2 indices) that measure Inhibit, Shift, Emotional Control, Initiate, Working Memory, Plan/ Organize, Organization of Materials, and Monitor within the context of school. Sam- ple-specific Cronbach’s alphas at pre for BRIEF subscales ranged from .725 (Planning) to .943 (Inhibit); Cronbach’s alphas were .880 and .612 for the Metacognition Index and the Behavior Regulation Index, respectively.

The Clinical Assessment of Behavior Teacher Rating Form (CAB-T; Bracken & Keith, 2004) consists of 70 questions that comprise subscales including internalizing, externalizing, social skills, and competence. Sample-specific Cronbach’s alphas at pre for CAB subscales were .937, .814, .881, and .890 for External, Internal, Social, and Competence, respectively.

The Woodcock Reading Mastery Test- Revised (Woodcock, 1987) is a comprehensive individual assessment of reading ability. To assess children’s comprehension, trained members of the research team administered the Passage Comprehension subtest, which resembles a cloze exercise and requires test takers to provide an appropriate word accord- ing to the meaning of the surrounding sen- tences or phrases. Picture clues are included for approximately one third of the easiest items; participants receive a single score for the subtest.

To assess vocabulary development, we used data from the expressive vocabulary subscale of

the Florida Assessment for Instruction in Read- ing, available from the school district for all kindergarten participants in our study.

Assessment of Treatment Fidelity

To determine whether teachers in the treatment school followed SELF protocols and delivered lesson components as intended, we videotaped approximately 20% of all lessons taught across the eight kindergarten treatment classrooms. We selected the second, fifth, and eighth of the 16 SELF lessons to observe introductory lessons that introduced a topic and associated book, DR lessons, and appli- cation activity lessons. We watched the videos to determine whether the lessons were feasible to deliver and understandable to the children and to gather information for the development of a more formal assessment of fidelity to use in future studies.

Data Analyses

To determine group equivalence (treat- ment vs. control) prior to intervention, we conducted a f test on pretest scores, and to determine intervention effects, we conducted an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) on posttreatment scores for each outcome mea- sure. In addition to condition (treatment vs. control), we included the pretest score as a covariate to control for the influence of pretreatment (baseline) risk. Some CAB and BRIEF subscales violated assumptions of ho- mogeneity of variance (using Levene’s test) and normality of score distributions; thus, we used a rank transformation procedure (see Olejnik & Algina, 1984), replacing raw scores

Behavioral Disorders, 39 (1), 43-51 November 2013 / 47

with corresponding ranks to conduct AN- COVA analyses on these outcome measures.

Results, Discussion, and Future Directions

Findings from f tests to determine group equivalence at baseline yielded differences on 2 of 17 outcome variables, such that children in the treatment group were at higher risk on the Inhibition subscale of the BRIEF Behavior Regulation Index (f[l, 54] = -2.40, p < .05) and at lower risk on the social skills subscale of the CAB (f[1, 53] = -2.10, p < .05). (Note: Higher scores on BRIEE subscales and indices indicate higher risk.) Results from ANCOVA analyses showed significant main effects of treatment on Internalizing behavior (F]l, 23] = 4.48, p < .05, rip^ = .084) and Competence (F]1, 23] = 7.24, p = .01, V = -129) subscales of the CAB, and there was a significant positive treatment effect on the Behavior Regulation Index of the BRIEF (F]1, 23] = 5.36, p


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Table 3 Problem-S olving S trategies and A ctivities for U pper E lementary/M iddle S chool S tudents

I n s t r u c t i o n a l O b j e c t i v e s S u g g e s t e d A c t iv it ie s

Identify that a problem exists • Students learn to identify cues (e.g., emotions, thoughts,

behaviors) that signal a problem exists. Define the problem and the goal

• Students use their feelings and observations to help them describe the problem.

• Students define the problem such that it is connected to a goal and can be solved.

Generate solutions • Students learn how to come up with multiple solutions to solve

a problem (e.g., brainstorming, using solutions from past experiences, imagining what someone else would do).

• Students generate a variety of solutions. Evaluate solutions and enact

• Students learn how to evaluate each solution to determine which will be most likely to help them reach their goal (e.g., pros and cons of each one).

• Students learn how to choose the best solution and create a plan.

• Students learn communication skills to enact their plan effectively (e.g., knowing their audience, using active listening, being aware of body language).

• Students learn how to enact the chosen plan. Evaluate outcome

• Students learn to determine whether the problem was fully, partially, or not solved.

• Students look at hypothetical scenarios to determine which clues indicate that a problem exists.

• Students make a list of possible problems and define each in a way that is connected to their goal and is solvable.

• Students use a journal to record a list of solutions they tried in the past that did or did not work well.

• Teacher pairs students with a problem-solving buddy to help them come up with solutions.

• Students create a poster of effective solutions to common problems and discuss pros and cons of each.

• Students role-play their possible solutions or plans to determine potential outcomes and problem resolutions.

• Students create artistic posters that list effective communication skills.

• Students have a discussion about a scenario or role-play to determine what happened when their plan was enacted, how well it worked, and what they should do next, based on the outcome.

Allen collaborates with other school professionals (i.e., school psychologist, school counselor, behavior resource teacher, paraprofessional) to determine how best to proceed. After some brainstorming and research on behavioral interventions, the group decides to provide an 8-week unit of instruction for Zach and other students with similar behaviors to improve their ability to regulate their own behavior.

Ms. Allen provides goal-setting instruction in the first two weeks by teaching Zach and other students in a small group the goal-setting process. Part o f M s. Allen’s instruction includes the use o f a goal-setting graphic organizer, as shown in Figure 1, to help them learn goal-setting skills. She creates a similar graphic organizer to help students track their progress. Ms. Allen also has her students role-play their if-then plans. Because of this instruction, Zach is able

to identify and set a goal to obtain good grades so he can try out for the team. Using the graphic organizer, Zach makes a plan to make good grades, creates if- then plans for anticipated barriers, and uses the graphic organizer to monitor his progress. Ms. Allen provides feedback and encourages Zach and the other students to apply these skills across settings.

In addition to goal setting, Ms. Allen plans to include instruction in emotion regulation skills because ofZach’s difficulties with controlling his emotions in the classroom. She decides to provide two weeks of whole-class instruction because most of her students would benefit from these skills. She teaches the students to identify triggers and bodily feelings that signal they are getting angry. Ms. Allen also teaches specific strategies to control anger as soon as it is recognized, such as counting, distraction, thinking

positively, or modifying the situation. For practice, Ms. Allen has her students participate in role-plays. Ms. Allen could set up role-plays similar to the one shown in Table 4, where students first act out an g ] emotionally charged situation and then apply learned strategies to the scenario. Given that Zach’s difficulty modulating emotions occurs across settings, Ms. Allen works with her team to encourage and reinforce Zach’s use of his emotion regulation strategies throughout the day.

To provide comprehensive and targeted SR instruction to meet all of Zach’s needs, Ms. Allen collaborates with Mr. Burton, the school counselor, to provide Zach and several other students with skills to employ when encountering social problems. Zach and his peers learn how to approach a problem with optimism and a sense o f self-efficacy, identify resources and obstacles, set realistic goals, and use the problem-solving steps in real-

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T eaching Self-Regulation Skills t o Students

F i g u r e 1 Graphic O rganizer for H elping S tudents C reate and T rack If-Then P lans

How I W ill Accomplish M y Goal

M y If-Then Plan r a

if f


* ^ (Situation) ^ (1 will…) J

Monitoring M y If-Then Plan







life problematic situations. Ms. Allen, Mr. Burton, and other school professionals encourage and reinforce Zach when he uses these problem-solving skills in different settings. Because of the targeted instruction in SR provided by this team of school professionals, there is a noticeable and significant improvement in Zach’s behavior.

As shown in our scenario, teachers and other school professionals can

include SR instruction to improve student outcomes. To maximize these outcomes, a vital aspect of programming is collaboration across school personnel. Approaching the teaching and support of self-regulatory skills as a team will ensure consistency of instruction and reinforcement for students. Teachers, counselors, and other team members can use teachable moments throughout the day to

reinforce and foster the generalization of the skills they teach. By so doing, school professionals can play a key role not only in improving students’ behavior in school but also in equipping them with the skills to control their cognitive, emotional, and behavioral choices to achieve lifelong success.

SR Curricula

No doubt, a curriculum can help ease the amount of teacher planning time by providing step-by-step instructional guidance and student activities. Several curricula target elements of SR for a variety of age groups and student needs. As shown in Table 5, Tools for Getting Along and Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) are examples of preventative programs that target the SR needs of students in general education settings. Tools for Getting Along, a universally implemented, evidence-based social problem­ solving curriculum for upper elementary students with a focus on anger management, is effective for improving students’ social problem­ solving knowledge, abilities, and EF skills and decreasing aggression and anger (e.g., Daunic et al., 2012). The PATHS program is a universally delivered curriculum for students in preschool through sixth grade that targets aspects of SR, including emotional literacy, social competence, self-control, and interpersonal problem solving. Studies have shown that PATHS and Tools for Getting Along can effectively improve social competence, behavior problems, self- control, and on-task behavior (e.g., CPPRG, 2010; Daunic et al., 2012).

Although several universal programs designed for students with moderate SR problems exist, other curricula have been created to target SR for students like Zach who have more significant behavioral needs. One example, Coping Power, is a targeted intervention for aggressive students in upper elementary and middle school. The student

10 B e y o n d B e h a v i o r

T ea ch in g Self-Reg u la tio n Skills t o Stu d e n t s B e y o n d B e h a v i o r

– A

Table 4 Emotion R egulation Role-P lay U seful for P racticing L earned S trategies


Tia: Lin: Joanne: Tia: Joanne: Narrator: Freeze!


Lin: Narrator:


Lin: Narrator:

Role-Play Scenario Joanne has just made friends with a new girl in school, Lin. But one girl, Tia, has just started picking on Lin and Joanne.

The first time it happened, Joanne thought Tia’s behavior was wrong and stopped the girl from saying mean things. But it keeps happening, and Tia convinced other girls to join in. Both girls are feeling really down about how Tia is behaving. Lin and Joanne see Tia in the hallway.

Those are some really ugly clothes you are wearing. Did your mom pick them out for you? (softly and looking down). No… (says to Tia) Tia, I’ve told you to leave Lin alone. Hey, not your business. You gonna blab to the teacher like a big baby? You’re such a loser! (says to Lin) Just go on and ignore her. Joanne and Lin walk away. But the girls notice that Tia is whispering with another friend and is making faces at them. Joanne can feel that she is getting angry because her hands are clenching into fists, her stomach is tightening, and she is

starting to grind her teeth.

Role-Play Strategies

1. Select or M odify the Situation (says to Lin) You know what? Who cares! Let’s just keep going. Next time, let’s not walk down this hall to get to class.

We will take a different way Yeah, that’s a good idea. Tia and her crew are always in that hall. Joanne and Lin walk away and take a different way to class the next day.

2. Modulate Response (says to self) I am getting really mad, and I know I am about to lose it. Okay, I need to change how I’m reacting to Tia.

(says to Lin) I’m going to go cool off for a bit. I’ll see you later. Ok, don’t let her get to you. I’ll see you in class. Joanne had an understanding with the school counselor that she could cool down in her office when upset. Joanne used

some relaxation techniques to calm down. This way, Joanne was able to control her response to Tia’s behavior.

component, typically delivered in schools, fosters SR skills that include social problem solving, goal setting, awareness of emotions, and coping strategies. The parent component of Coping Power is designed to improve positive parental involvement to further support students’ learned skills. The Coping Power program has demonstrated positive effects on students’ classroom behavior, aggression, social competence, and problem solving (e.g., Lochman &

Wells, 2004). In addition to this exemplary program, others designed to foster aspects of SR that can be implemented within school settings are Positive Action (Beets et al., 2009) and Second Step (Frey, Nolen, Edstrom, & Flirschstein, 2005).

Although programs such as Tools for Getting Along and Coping Power include self-regulatory instructional components and are effective at meeting the needs of students with behavioral problems, they do not

include explicit, comprehensive instruction in the three domains that make up SR. One curriculum, I Control, currently being developed and tested for students with EBD, focuses explicitly on the three components of SR as well as targeting skill development in EF. As such, the I Control curriculum is an innovative SR program for middle school students with EBD based on the most recent neurocognitive research on executive functioning (Cognitive-Behavioral

Table 5 Self-R egulation C urricular R esources

P r o g r a m F o r m a t L e v e l W e b s it e

Tools fo r G etting A lo n g Universal 4th-5th h ttp :/ / 0ducation.ufl.edu/behavior-management-resource-guide P rom oting A lternative T hinking

Strategies Universal PreK-6th http:/ / www.channing-bete.com/prevention-programs/paths /

paths.html Positive A ction Universal K-12 https://www.positiveaction.net Second Step Universal PreK-8th h ttp ://www.cfchildren.org/second-step.aspx C oping Power Targeted 4th-8th http://www.copingpower.com/ l Control Targeted 6th-8th h ttp :// education.ufl.edu/cognitive-behavioral-research-group/


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T eaching Self-Regulation Skills t o Students

Research Group in Education, 2015). It is made up of four units devoted to fostering SR through instruction in goal setting, emotion regulation, and social problem solving, with direct training of EF skills through novel computer games. In each of the units, worksheets, whole- and small-group activities, and role-plays help students with EBD learn and practice taught skills. I Control is currently being piloted to determine its effectiveness in improving students’ SR knowledge and abilities.

C onclusion

Students with EBD consistently display behaviors that are indicative of deficits in SR and weaknesses in underlying EF (e.g., Mattison, Hooper, & Carlson, 2006; Polsgrove & Smith, 2004). Although school professionals have disciplinary programs in place to address student behaviors, their effectiveness would be improved by using strategies or curricula that explicitly target SR deficits as a fundamental aspect of behavioral programming (Osher, Dwyer, Jimerson, & Brown, 2012). Further, teachers, counselors, and other school personnel must work together to promote students’ generalization of SR skills across multiple settings. Ultimately, when school professionals actively collaborate in cultivating the SR abilities of students with EBD, they are better preparing their students to excel in the classroom and beyond.

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