Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Using Opportunities to Respond in a General Education Classroom: A Case Study

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Using Opportunities to Respond in a General Education Classroom: A Case Study

Article excerpt


In this study researchers examined a teacher's use of opportunities to respond in a 5th grade general education classroom setting. Using an ABA single subject design, the effects of a choral responding procedure and increased rate of delivering questions with an elementary aged student identified as at-risk for emotional or behavior disorders were examined. Results indicated that when the teacher increased the rates of opportunities to respond, the student's on-task behavior and correct responses increased, while the student's disruptive behavior decreased. A discussion of limitations and future research directions is included.


Researchers in the field of education have been concerned over the past decade with implementing evidence-based practices within school classrooms. Particularly because classroom instruction is now guided by policies that include challenging core academic standards (i.e., reading/language arts, mathematics, and science). In addition, many school districts engage in ongoing assessments of academic progress for the purpose of raising achievement levels for all students (Ysseldyke et al., 2006). Engelmann and Carnine (1991) emphasize that the school environment (quality of instruction) is the primary variable that influences student outcomes. When carefully controlled instruction is methodically presented to students, researchers can measure and evaluate the differences learners experience during lessons. Thus, with each student's response, specific information about the learner is provided to the teacher.

An important component of effective instruction is giving students numerous opportunities to respond (OTR) during lessons (Barbetta & Heward, 1993). An OTR can be defined as the interaction between a teacher's academic prompt and a student's response. Teachers' use of OTR incorporates strategies of presenting materials, asking questions and correcting students' answers in order to increase the likelihood of desired responses (Salend, 1998). Specifically, OTR is provided by teachers via questioning, prompting, or cueing to begin a learning trial (a small unit of instruction that consists of a three-term contingency--antecedent, response, and consequence (A-R-C) (Greenwood, Delquadri & Hall, 1984). Examples of an OTR are when the teacher asks the entire class or an individual student during language arts class "How many syllables are in the word computer?" Or during math class "What is 64 divided by 8?" OTR is an important teaching strategy because teachers can promote frequent responses from students, check for comprehension, and adjust questions to meet the skill level of students. Finally, the purpose of using OTR is to increase the number of correct responses and the amount of time students are engaged during instruction.

One approach to increasing OTR is to utilize choral responding. Choral responding occurs when all students verbally respond in unison following the presentation of a teacher question. When teachers use choral responding they can increase the number of students responding per learning trial (Miller, Hall, & Heward, 1995; Sindelar, Bursuck, & Halle, 1986). Researchers have shown that teacher increases in OTR result in more time on-task, an increase in correct responses, and less disruptive behavior (Barbetta, Heron, & Heward, 1993; Sterling, Barbetta, Heward, & Heron, 1997). However, few researchers have examined increasing OTR (choral responding) in a large group format in a general education classroom setting (see McKenzie & Henry, 1979; Miller, et al., 1995). Barbetta and Heward, (1993) suggest examining the effects of OTR in subject areas such as rules for math computation or for science definitions and concepts.

The present study was designed as a replication of a previous study that investigated the effects of an increased rate of OTR on student disruptive and on-task behavior, and correct responses. …

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