Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

The Instructional Assistants Program: A Potential Entry Point for Behavior Analysis in Education

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

The Instructional Assistants Program: A Potential Entry Point for Behavior Analysis in Education

Article excerpt

Abstract

Applied behavior analysis has played a limited role in the daily instructional practices of general education teachers in this country. While the explanations for this are numerous and varied, the implications remain the same; increased efforts must be made to infuse behavioral principles and procedures into mainstream educational practice. The purpose of this manuscript is to describe the development, implementation, and initial evaluation of an innovative preservice training program for general education teachers. More specifically, we provide a brief overview of the Reflective and Responsive Educator (RARE) program and offer an indepth description of the Instructional Assistants Program, a potentially replicable, early field-based experience for prospective teachers. We also offer some initial outcome data to support the effectiveness and social acceptability of this early field experience. Finally, we discuss the potential contributions of the model program and explore possible applications of the Instruc tional Assistants Program as a vehicle for increasing behavior analysis' role in general education settings.

Deitz (1994) commented fairly recently upon the insignificant impact that applied behavior analysis has had on education. He noted, for example, that one can go into almost any public school in this country and find little or no evidence of behavior analysis. That is, very few classroom teachers routinely use direct instruction teaching procedures to develop reading and mathematical competence (Carnine, 1992). Even fewer classroom teachers may collect daily curriculum-specific data, publicly post it within their classrooms to stimulate student performance, and then use such data to make important instructional decisions. At the same time, however, one can find many popular and faddish teaching practices with limited or no empirical support, ambiguous, reactive disciplinary policies and procedures, and numerous misplaced contingencies applied in the conduct of such policies (Carnine, 1992; Walker, 1995).

One can also examine curricula of most teacher preparation programs and read almost any "mainstream" educational journal and find little trace of behavioral theory and! or practice. Equally depressing is the fact that major educational reform movements are currently proceeding with little, if any, input from behavioral educators (Kohler & Strain, 1992). This is, indeed, unfortunate because applied behavior analysis has much to offer education (e.g., Axelrod, 1993; Hall, 1991; Heward & Cooper, 1992; Kohler & Strain, 1992).

At the State University of New York-College at Fredonia, we have attempted to reverse this trend somewhat by integrating behavior analytic principles and procedures more deeply into a "traditional" preparation program for preservice general education teachers (cf. Maheady, Harper, Mallette, & Karnes, 1993; 1994). For example, program participants are provided with an interactional perspective on teaching and learning as the conceptual basis for their studies and are directed throughout the program to become "pupils of their students" (Skinner, 1972). Validated instructional practices (e.g., classwide peer tutoring, curriculum-based assessment measures, and specific cooperative learning strategies) are modeled routinely within core courses, program participants engage in structured role-plays and direct teaching opportunities using such procedures in small group arrangements, corrective feedback is provided by the instructors and/or peers, and then participants are provided with direct opportunities to apply t hese procedures in in vivo settings. Here, we provide a brief overview of our newly restructured teacher preparation program, the Reflective and Responsive Educator (RARE) model. We then describe, in detail, one particular facet of the RARE model, the Instructional Assistants Program (IAP); an early field-based experience which accompanies a required Introduction to Contemporary Education course. …

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