Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Effects of Tiered Training on General Educators' Use of Specific Praise

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Effects of Tiered Training on General Educators' Use of Specific Praise

Article excerpt


Research suggests a compelling correlation between teacher behavior and effective learning environments. Focusing on the evidence-based teaching skill of offering behavior-specific praise (BSP), the researchers worked with three elementary-level general educators in a tiered model of training generally known as response to intervention (RtI). Although RtI commonly provides targeted instructional support to students, this study used the RtI framework to provide professional development instruction to teachers. The researchers also tracked the behavior of three students identified by the teachers as having behavioral difficulties, who became the focus of each teacher's BSP. Results showed increases in rates of BSP following the Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions (video self-monitoring and peer coaching), but not following the Tier 1 intervention (school-wide in-service training). Averages for all three students' on-task behavior increased with increased teacher BSP.

KEYWORDS: behavior-specific praise, response to intervention, faculty peer coaching, video self-monitoring, professional development, tiered training

Improving public education is of national concern as many schools grapple with low achievement results in the context of legislative mandates for increased student achievement and highly qualified teachers (No Child Left Behind Act, 2001). The ability of a teacher to manage student behavior has been emphasized as a skill that leads to increased learning time and improved academic and social outcomes (Simonsen, Fairbanks, Briesch, Myers, & Sugai, 2008). In particular, the use of behavior-specific, contingent praise has been documented as a teaching practice that consistently results in improved student academic and social behavior (Cherne, 2009; Sugai, 2007). However, significant evidence indicates that teachers rarely use praise effectively in the classroom (Beaman & Wheldall, 2000; Brophy, 1981; Burnett, 2002; Ferguson & Houghton, 1992; Sutherland, Wehby, & Copeland, 2000). This study explored a tiered professional development structure that was used to teach teachers to use behavior-specific contingent praise in dealing with disruptive student behavior.

Background and Literature Review

Creating professional development systems that effectively support and sustain teachers' use of identified effective practices can be difficult (Guskey & Yoon, 2009). Several forms and strategies are common at present: meetings and workshops, self-monitoring, and instructional coaching. These will be discussed in detail, below.

The most typical professional development strategy includes meetings or workshops in which participants passively listen to didactic instruction. Research suggests several drawbacks to this type of teacher training (Sprick, Knight, Reinke, & McKale, 2006). First, little to no follow-up training or implementation accountability occurs. Second, passive delivery gives attendees few opportunities to practice for skill mastery. Finally, and perhaps most important, little evidence of generalization to classroom implementation exists (Elmore, 2002; Garet, Porter, Desimore, Birmon, & Yoon, 2001; Garet, Wayne et al., 2010; Fixsen, Naoom, Blase, Friedmand, & Wallace, 2005; Myers, Simonsen, & Sugai, 2011; Yoon, Duncan, Lee, Scarloss, & Shapley, 2007).

Self-monitoring is a professional development strategy that provides teachers with data on which to reflect, making it effective for changing a variety of behaviors in various settings (Kalis, Vannest, & Parker, 2007). Kalis et al. had teachers self-monitor using a pocket counter, which they clicked to record instances of behavior-specific praise, with time allotted for analyzing the data. This simple cost-effective method makes the teacher aware of his or her use of a targeted skill, but teachers must be able and committed to accurately collect data during instruction. …

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