Date of Award

8-11-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Nicole Patton Terry

Second Advisor

Debra McKeown

Third Advisor

Julie Washington

Fourth Advisor

Ann Kruger

Abstract

Teaching class-wide behavior expectations and using specific praise (SP) are common components of positive behavior supports and are considered light behavior management strategies that teachers are likely to find acceptable to implement because they require little time or materials (McNamara, 1984; Oswald, Safran, & Johanson, 2005). SP consists of approval statements that directly describe desirable behavior students have carried out (Brophy, 1981). This contrasts with non-specific, or general praise, which consists of approval statements that lack a specific description of student behavior (Sutherland, Wehby, & Copeland, 2000). A two-fold systematic review of the literature was conducted to locate all relevant studies of interventions to increase teacher SP use in high schools and the effects of interventions involving frequent class wide pre-correction, pre-teaching, or prompting for classroom behavior expectations or rules for any grade level. As a result of this literature review, the current study was implemented. Using a multiple baseline/multiple probe design, this study examined the impact of three high school special education resource teachers’ use of a class-wide behavior prompting routine on their SP delivery during the lesson. Teachers were taught to implement a daily routine of reminding their students of the behavior expectations immediately prior to the beginning of the lesson. Classes were observed for 30 minutes following delivery of the prompting routine. Outcomes were measured using frequency counts of teacher praise statements, their contents were analyzed, and counts were converted to rates of SP statements per 30 minutes. Results indicated there was not a functional relation between teacher use of the behavior prompting routine and SP rates for any of the participants. Baseline mean rates of SP across teachers ranged from 0-2.17 per 30 minutes, and intervention mean rates of SP across teachers ranged from 1.77-4.60 per 30 minutes. Maintenance probe observations were conducted for two of the teachers, resulting in 4 and 7 SP. Teacher and student perceptions of the acceptability of the behavior prompting routine and SP were measured using a social validity survey following the intervention. Implications of the results for teacher professional development and future research are discussed.

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