Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Using Self-Management Procedures to Improve Classroom Social Skills in Multiple General Education Settings

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Using Self-Management Procedures to Improve Classroom Social Skills in Multiple General Education Settings

Article excerpt


This study used self-monitoring, coupled with a student/teacher matching strategy, to improve the classroom social skills of five inner-city middle school students, who were at risk for school failure. Using a multiple-probe across students and settings (class periods) design, we evaluated intervention effects in up to six different settings. Results indicated that self-monitoring and the student/teacher matching intervention led to increases in targeted appropriate social skills and decreases in off-task behavior for all five students across all class periods. Data suggested that self-monitoring with student/teacher matching is an effective procedure to promote the use of appropriate social skills across multiple general education settings.

KEY WORDS: self-management, self-monitoring, at-risk students, classroom behavior, social skills, programmed generalization


Several factors have been associated with students who are at-risk for violence, delinquency, school failure, and drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse, including poorly developed social interaction and resistance skills, poor academic skills, and dysfunctional families (Schinke, Botvin, & Orlandi, 1991). Successful prevention programs reduce or eliminate such risk factors by developing social competence, teaching self-management and effective problem-solving skills, remediating academic deficits, and strengthening families. However, the success of such programs depends in part on the extent to which students use good social and self-management skills in settings other than those in which they were learned.

Research has consistently shown that a variety of social skills can be taught to students at-risk and/or with disabilities using a structured learning approach (Mathur & Rutherford, 1991; Schloss, Schloss, Wood, & Kiehl, 1986; Walker, Colvin, & Ramsey, 1995). Structured learning involves identifying critical social skills and then teaching them through modeling, role-playing, and performance feedback. Although this approach to social skills instruction has produced acquisition of social skills (Kiburz, Miller, & Morrow, 1984; Schloss et al., 1986), students may not always use these skills in non-training settings (i.e., generalization) (Fox & McEvoy, 1993; Gresham, 1981; Mathur & Rutherford, 1994; Smith, Nelson, Young, & West, 1992). For secondary-age students, being able to use good social skills in a variety of settings is essential, because they typically have five to seven classes each day, and each class is often taught by different teachers in different settings. Thus, practical, easy-to-use methods for teaching classroom social skills that produce generalized behavior change are greatly needed.

In past years, researchers have acknowledged that, in order to promote the use of newly acquired skills in non-training settings, some type of generalization programming strategy will be necessary (Fox & McEvoy, 1993; Marholin & Siegel, 1978; Mathur & Rutherford, 1991; Mathur & Rutherford, 1994; Schloss et al., 1986; Stokes & Baer, 1977; Stokes & Osnes, 1989). Program strategies that facilitate such transfer of training include: self-management with a reinforcement contingency, cognitive and/or peer mediation, programming common stimuli, and using naturally maintaining contingencies (Clees, 1994; Lonnecker, Brady, McPherson, & Hawkins, 1994; Mathur & Rutherford, 1994; Rhode, Morgan, & Young, 1983; Sasso, Melloy, & Kavale 1990; Smith, Nelson, Young, & West, 1992). Although these studies have produced moderate transfer of newly acquired skills to non-training environments, the number of settings in which such strategies were implemented has been limited. For example, several studies have shown transfer of newly acquired skills to one novel setting (Lonnecker et. al., 1994; Mathur, & Rutherford, 1994; Sasso, Melloy, & Kevale, 1990; Smith et al. …

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