A Pilot Study of a Problem-Solving Model for Team Decision Making

Article excerpt


Many schools have problem-solving teams that support teachers by helping identify and resolve students' academic and social problems. Although research is limited, it has been found that teams sometimes fail to implement problem-solving processes with fidelity, which may hinder the resolution of problems. We developed the Team-Initiated Problem Solving (TIPS) model to guide problem-solving processes of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Teams and the Decision Observation, Recording, and Analysis (DORA) instrument for measuring the fidelity of TIPS implementation. We conducted a TIPS Workshop for four elementary school PBIS Teams in North Carolina and Oregon and used DORA to assess the teams' implementation of TIPS processes in subsequent meetings. We found DORA was successful at allowing us to gather measures of fidelity of implementation, and that teams implemented TIPS processes with fidelity following the workshop. Limitations of these findings as well as implications for future research and practice are provided.

KEYWORDS: School teams, data-based decision-making, problem-solving, positive behavior interventions and supports

There is a long history of school personnel serving as members of problem-solving teams (Bahr & Kovaleski, 2006). Although these teams are known by different names, such as Teacher Assistance Teams (Chalfant, Pysh, & Moultrie, 1979); Prereferral Intervention Teams (Graden, 1985); Instructional Consultation Teams (Rosenfield & Gravois, 1996); and Instructional Support Teams (Kovaleski & Glew, 2006), their members share the common purpose of supporting teachers by helping to identify and resolve academic and social problems experienced by students, often within a curriculum-based measurement/response-to-intervention framework (e.g., Alonzo, Kerterlin-Geller, & Tindal, 2007; Batsche, Curtis, Dorman, Castillo, & Porter, 2007, Brown-Chidsey & Steege, 2005; Deno, 2005; Shinn, 1989; Sueai & Horner, 2009b).

The processes for effective team problem-solving have been a regular focus of consideration in the education and treatment of children. For example, Deno (2005) adapted the processes of the Bransford and Stein (1984) IDEAL problem-solving model (Identify problem-Define problem-Explore solutions-Apply chosen solution-Look at effects) to develop a data-based problem-solving model for use in schools (Problem identification-Problem definition-Designing intervention plans-Implementing intervention-Problem solution). By describing this as a data-based problem-solving model, Deno (2005) emphasized that access to relevant data is important for informing the various problem-solving processes and team members' related decision making.

In schools that implement School-wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS), the team that identifies and addresses students' social behavior problems is known as the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Team (Lewis, Jones, Horner, & Sugai, 2010; Sugai & Horner, 2006, 2009a). Data that can inform the problem-solving processes and the decision making of PBIS Team members are typically drawn from the School-wide Information System (SWIS: Irvin et al., 2006; May et al., 2003). SWIS provides a methodology for defining and collecting data about student office discipline referrals (ODRs), as well as a Web-based computer application for entering hand-collected ODR data and producing predefined and custom reports concerning the ODRs (May et al., 2003). A school's PBIS Team members receive training and technical assistance in the use of SWIS from a SWIS Facilitator who is employed by the school district and who has previously participated in a two-and-a-half day SWIS Facilitator Training event conducted by SWIS developers/researchers (Homer et al., 2008). SWIS Facilitators begin their work with a school by reviewing the procedures currently in use for gathering ODR data, and working to ensure that problem behavior codes describe behaviors that are observable and represent behaviors that are mutually exclusive and exhaustive. …