Academic journal article Contemporary School Psychology

Helping Female Juveniles Improve Their On-Task Behavior and Academic Performance Using a Self-Management Procedure in a Correctional Facility

Academic journal article Contemporary School Psychology

Helping Female Juveniles Improve Their On-Task Behavior and Academic Performance Using a Self-Management Procedure in a Correctional Facility

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to teach female juvenile offenders with disabilities a selfmanagement procedure to help improve on-task behavior and academic performance during independent practice of math calculation facts. Students were taught to set goals and were provided with incentives for goal attainment. A reversal single-case design (ABABC) was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the self-management procedure for on-task behavior (time on-task), academic productivity (percentage of problems completed), and academic accuracy (percentage of problems completed correctly). The results indicated that the intervention was effective for increasing participants' on-task behavior. A modest-to-moderate impact was evident on these students' academic accuracy and productivity. Limitations of this study and future directions for research are addressed. In addition, practical suggestions are offered for helping students monitor their on-task behavior, accuracy, and productivity.

KEYWORDS: Self-management strategies, female juveniles, serious emotional disturbance, ontask behaviors, and math skills

The number of females served by the juvenile justice system has been increasing since the 1960s, and more girls are entering the system at younger ages (Gavazzi, 2006; Poe-Yamagata & Butts, 1996; OJJDP, 1998a; Siegel & Senna, 2000). A female is more likely to engage in delinquent activity when few protective factors exist and when multiple risk factors are severe, frequent, and occur early in a youth's development. These risk factors might include (a) being raised in an impoverished environment, (b) being raised in a high crime neighborhood, (c) being identified as part of an ethnic minority group, (d) having a history of aversive educational experiences or low achievement, (e) being a victim of any form of abuse, (f) reporting a sense of discouragement and hopelessness, (g) having a history of alcohol and other drug abuse, and (h) having limited access to necessary medical and mental health treatment (OJJDP, 1998b). Other risk factors include (a) early onset of disruptive behavior in school, (b) expulsions, (c) frequent school changes or absences, and (d) minimal involvement in extra-curricular activities (Mullis et al., 2004). Moreover, when comparing female to male juvenile offenders, females juvenile offenders have spent less time in school, have greater academic delays, and are less prepared for job acquisition than male offenders (Timmons-Mitchell et al., 1997).

The prevalence of disabilities as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDELA, 2004) is higher for youth in the juvenile justice system than youth in the general population (Gresham, Lane, & Lambros, 2000). According to Quinn, Rutherford, Leone, Osher, & Poirier (2005), approximately half of the juveniles with disabilities have been identified with emotional disturbance under IDEIA. Students with emotional disturbance have significant difliculty managing their own behaviors such as attending to instruction, completing assigned tasks (Cancio et al., 2004) and using appropriate strategies to resolve interpersonal conflict (Reid, Gonzalez, Nordness, Trout, & Epstein, 2004).

Howell and Wolford (2002) suggested using behavior modification and self-management strategies to help students with disabilities in juvenile justice settings. Self-management interventions teach students to apply behavior change strategies in order to notice, evaluate, and independently direct their behavior (Dollard, Christensen, Colucci, & Epanchin 1996) with the goal of becoming more productive and improving or eliminating target behaviors that are already within a student's repertoire (Reid, 1993).

Whereas the application of self-management strategies addressing behavior and mental health problems have been suggested within juvenile correctional settings (Houchins, 2001), only one study examined the effects of a self-management intervention in a correctional school setting (i. …

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