Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

The Effects of Teacher-Student Small Talk on Out-of-Seat Behavior

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

The Effects of Teacher-Student Small Talk on Out-of-Seat Behavior

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper presents the results of a function-based study initiated by a general education teacher to reduce a general education student's out-of-seat behavior. Procedures included direct observation, data collection, functional behavior assessment using a Functional Assessment Protocol (FAP; Schroeder, n.d.), hypothesis development, and creating an intervention based on the hypothesis. The intervention, adapted from Wong and Wong (2001), involved greeting the target student at the classroom door and engaging him in conversation on any topic with comments from the teacher ranging from compliments to encouragement, coupled with verbal prompts (subtle, but direct instructions regarding teacher expectations). The intervention reduced the student's out-of-seat behavior.

Key Words: Disruptive behavior, functional behavior assessment, intervention planning

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Out-of-seat behavior is a common and disruptive problem for classroom teachers (general and special education alike). In its mildest form, students simply leave their seats, and wander about the room not disturbing others. In its most severe form, students leave their seats while simultaneously cursing, throwing objects, and/or distracting other students. Regardless of where out-of-seat behavior falls on the mild to severe continuum, if the frequency and intensity of the behavior are such that they disrupt the learning environment, then the offenders become a priority for intervention (Chandler & Dahlquist, 2006).

Over the years, numerous interventions have been created to redress out-of-seat behavior. The good behavior game, for example, consistently reduced out-of-seat and other challenging behaviors (Barrish, Saunders, & Wolf, 1969; Bostow & Geiger, 1976; Harris & Sherman, 1973; Hegerle, Kesecker, & Couch, 1979; Saigh & Umar, 1983; Warner, Miller, & Cohen, 1977). Schilling, Washington, Billingsley, and Dietz (2003) used therapy balls as chairs for students with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and found increases in in-seat behavior. Umbreit, Lane and Dejud (2004) increased the difficulty level of assigned tasks to better match target students' abilities and found decreases in challenging behavior (including out-of-seat).

Functional assessment procedures permit teachers to develop and implement their own interventions based upon the function of problematic behaviors. This function many times can be revealed through a functional behavior assessment (FBA). According to Reid and Nelson (2002), there are three important aspects to an FBA: (a) identifying the variables that explain the behavior's occurrence/non-occurrence, (b) identifying controllable environmental variables that contribute to the behavior, and (c) individualizing the FBA to the student. The authors stated further that an FBA generally involves creating hypotheses that are related to the function of the target behavior, ascertaining the factors (antecedents) thought to be related to the behavior, and then implementing interventions.

Can teachers perform the necessary procedures involved in conducting an FBA and still manage their day-to-day tasks? To address this question, Maag and Larson (2004) trained a general education teacher to conduct functional assessments and implement interventions with two of her elementary school students. They found that, in spite of lapses in data collection, the general education teacher could do so with ongoing university support. Lane, Weisenbach, Little, Phillips, and Wehby (2006) conducted a similar study with two general educators and two at-risk students. These researchers found that "general education teachers are able to design and implement function-based interventions, playing a key role in all stages of the systematic process" (p. 568). These studies suggest that teachers may be able to conduct their own FBAs and improve student behavior if they receive external assistance. …

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