Date of Award

1998

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Joseph C. Witt

Abstract

Persistent disruptive behaviors in school classrooms often result in referrals for behavior intervention services. Although research has supported several intervention strategies, limited research has focused on linking assessment to the selection of specific strategies. Experimental analysis procedures for assessing the function of behavior have been successful in the selection of specific strategies with developmentally disabled students and in special education environments. However, research in general education settings has been sparse. In this study, an analog functional assessment approach utilizing experimental analysis procedures was conducted to assess the function of off-task behaviors in regular education settings. Conditions were established in each student's classroom to assess three variables often identified in relation to classroom disruptive behaviors; (a) peer attention; (b) teacher attention; and (c) task difficulty. A multielement design was employed whereby each variable was analyzed in two phases. First, an assessment phase examined the effects of peer and teacher attention delivered contingent upon the occurrence of off-task behaviors and the effects of presenting difficult math tasks with no attention available. Next, a treatment validation phase reversed the assessment conditions by delivering peer and teacher attention contingent upon on-task behaviors and presenting "easy tasks" with no attention available. The students' teachers conducted all sessions in the students' classroom. Findings indicated that experimental analyses differentiated variables associated with off-task behavior with each of the five subjects. Elevated rates of off-task behavior were observed in association with difficult tasks for three of the students, with peer attention for one student, and with both difficult tasks and peer attention for another student. However, treatment validations for the identified variables were successful in reducing off-task behaviors with only four of the five students. With each student, teachers were able to implement experimental analysis procedures with high levels of integrity. Additionally, teacher acceptability ratings supported the use of the assessment procedures. Overall, these findings support the efficacy of using brief experimental analyses, implemented by teachers in the classroom, to assess the function of elementary students' disruptive classroom behaviors.

ISBN

9780599213852

Pages

92

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