Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Behavior Management Interventions for School Buses: A Systematic Review

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Behavior Management Interventions for School Buses: A Systematic Review

Article excerpt


Inappropriate behavior on school buses is a safety issue that concerns students, parents, and educators. There is potential for traffic-related injury, and the limited adult supervision on school buses often facilitates bullying and other infractions. This review identified peer-reviewed articles and dissertations evaluating behavioral interventions designed to improve student behaviors on school buses. Identified studies (n = 18) provided limited information regarding the characteristics of participants and generally assessed the effect of driver-or researcher-implemented reinforcement, punishment, and other management activities on the behavior of all passengers. Studies yielded modest results and did not satisfy the most recent quality indicators of the Council of Exceptional Children. Nonetheless, findings have implications for the implementation of driver-oriented management strategies as well as research concerning new approaches to behavior management aboard school buses.

Keywords: behavior intervention, bus, literature review


Fifty-five percent of K-12 students (i.e., roughly 25 million children) depend on buses in order to attend school (Cook & Shinkle, 2012). Nonetheless, school transportation settings in many districts lack systematic approaches to behavior management (Hirsch, Lewis-Palmer, Sugai, & Schnacker, 2004; Newcomer, Colvin, & Lewis, 2009). Consequently, parents often have a dim view of school transportation (Ramage & Howley, 2005; Raskaukas, 2005). Drivers routinely suggest that student behaviors represent a common and potentially dangerous distraction (deLara, 2008; Transportation Research Board [TRB], 2010). Results of a national survey further indicate that drivers (TRB, 2010) and other support personnel (Bradshaw, Waasdorp, O'Brennan, Gulemetova, & Henderson, 2011) often do not receive training in addressing student behavior issues. Consequently, behavior issues have the potential to distract drivers and increase the likelihood of serious accidents.

The range of inappropriate behaviors aboard school buses encompasses minor offenses, such as noncompliance and itinerancy (i.e., out of seat), to aggressive acts including fighting, bullying, and property destruction (Tucker, Petrie, & Lindauer, 1998). Such infractions potentially stem from multiple factors, including lack of structure and adult-to-student ratios that are often as low as 1:54 (Galliger, Tisak, & Tisak, 2009). Drivers are frequently the only adult present on school buses. These drivers report feeling less obligated to intervene in incidents of bullying and aggression than teachers (Bradshaw et al., 2011).

Discipline is a priority for school administrators, teachers, and other personnel (Sugai & Horner, 2006). As a part of their school environment, this includes efforts to apply behavior intervention strategies on school buses (Newcomer et al., 2009). Reports estimate that aggression and other violent incidents may occur more than twice a day, which indicates concerns regarding school bus behavior are well founded (Bradshaw et al., 2011).

The apparent difficulty schools face in addressing problem behavior on school buses suggests that practitioners and researchers may benefit from an examination of interventions in this context. The current review evaluated previous literature concerning behavior interventions implemented on school buses. Specifically, this review sought to identify bus-based behavior management integrated into schoolwide behavior supports, as well as interventions with potential for universal or targeted use. Questions included: (a) what are the characteristics of participants, (b) what types of interventions and behaviors have been evaluated, (c) how effective were the interventions in reducing student behavior, and (d) in terms of methodology, to what extent are they consistent with recently disseminated standards of quality (i. …

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