Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Development and Validation of Standard Classroom Observation Systems for School Practitioners: Ecobehavioral Assessment Systems Software (EBASS)

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Development and Validation of Standard Classroom Observation Systems for School Practitioners: Ecobehavioral Assessment Systems Software (EBASS)

Article excerpt

* In the past 2 decades, we have made major progress in understanding the relationship between classroom instructional processes and learning outcomes in both general (Brophy & Good, 1986) and special education (see the special issue, "Enhancing the Education of Difficult to Teach Students in the Mainstream: Federally Sponsored Research," of Exceptional Children, 1990, Vol. 57, Issue 2). Improved observational methods for assessing classroom instructional processes and the use of this information to guide teaching practice have contributed to this knowledge. Observational assessment, like other direct assessment methods (e.g., curriculum-based measurement), shares the principle of measurement within the context of the classroom environment, the curriculum, and the ongoing effort to teach (Deno, 1984). Unlike much of traditional assessment that is sensitive to individual differences between students but not the effects of teaching (e.g., norm-referenced tests), measurement with implications for improving teaching and learning must be sensitive to changes in teaching (Deno, Mirkin, & Chiang, 1982; Hayes, Nelson, & Jarrett, 1987). Classroom observation protocols honor this assumption by recording one or more classroom processes, such as (a) the behavior of the student, (b) the behavior of the teacher, (c) the materials in use, and (d) the interactions between and among these variables.

One of these approaches, the "ecobehavioral framework" (Greenwood, Carta, Kamps, & Arreaga-Mayer, 1990; Rogers-Warren & Warren, 1977), combines ecological and behavioral process information in ways that provide a system for studying the covariation and relationship between these constructs in time (Morris & Midgley, 1990). For example, instruments based on this approach are capable of generating the displays of individual behaviors expected in a typical behavioral assessment. However, because ecobehavioral taxonomies include ecological variables, they provide similar analyses of environmental variables (e.g., settings, subject matter, or materials) and teacher behaviors, as well. Further, because ecobehavioral taxonomies lead to identification of classroom situational factors that either promote or reduce the occurrence of specific behaviors (Greenwood, Carta, & Atwater, 1991; Repp & Dietz, 1990), a sophisticated range of analyses may be obtained for use in changing instruction.

The ecobehavioral approach has been enhanced by the availability of ecobehavioral classroom observation instruments for use by school practitioners. We describe a 13-year program of research that has led to three specific classroom observational instruments, now available together in Ecobehavioral Assessment Systems Software (EBASS), a computerized observational assessment system for local education agency (LEA) practitioners (Greenwood, Carta, Kamps, & Delquadri, 1992).

A PROGRAM OF ECOBEHAVIORAL

RESEARCH TO IMPROVE STUDENT

BEHAVIOR AND ACADEMIC

OUTCOMES

Code for Instructional Structure and Student

Academic Response: CISSAR

Compared to earlier pioneering lines of observational research in special education that assessed primarily student behavior (e.g., Hall, Lund, & Jackson, 1968; Walker & Buckley, 1968), or teacher-student interaction (e.g., Flanders, 1970; Semmel, 1975), the ecobehavioral approach represents an expansion in concept, scope, and function. In the Code for Instructional Structure and Student Academic Response (CISSAR) (Stanley & Greenwood, 1981), we sought to combine (a) classroom ecology, (b) teacher behavior, and (c) student behavior events within a single taxonomy. CISSAR became a taxonomy of 53 individual events recorded in relatively equal priority during an observation (see Figure 1). A momentary time-sampling procedure was used to prompt observers' recording of events every 10 s, because it provided a reliable framework for recording so many variables. …

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