Using a Mobile Handheld Computer to Teach a Student with an Emotional and Behavioral Disorder to Self-Monitor Attention

By Gulchak, Daniel J. | Education & Treatment of Children, November 2008 | Go to article overview

Using a Mobile Handheld Computer to Teach a Student with an Emotional and Behavioral Disorder to Self-Monitor Attention


Gulchak, Daniel J., Education & Treatment of Children


Abstract

Teaching students to self-monitor their attention or on-task behavior has a robust history of success in school and has been an effective strategy for students of all ages, including those with and without disabilities. However, this strategy has not made use of advances in technology in order to collect and record performance data. In this study, an eight year old male with emotional and behavior disorders (EBD) was taught to self-monitor his on-task behavior during a one hour reading period in a self-contained classroom using a mobile handheld computer. An A-B-A-B withdrawal design was used to collect observational data on the student's attention to task. The results of this empirical study showed that the student was able to use a handheld computer to self-monitor his behavior and increase his on-task behavior. Future use of this new technological innovation for self-monitoring will be discussed.

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In a recently published book that is destined to become a classic JLin our field, James Kauffman and Timothy Landrum remind us, "We have substantial reason to believe that what are today referred to as emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) have always existed, although they may have been known by other names" (2006, p. 15). One of the ways that this population is identified in schools today is through disruptive and atypical behavior. Part of the definition of EBD states that these students have an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers or teachers, inappropriate behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances, and a general mood of unhappiness or depression (IDEA, 2004). EBD is diagnosed in approximately 1% of school age children and accounts for 8.2% of all students enrolled in federally funded special education programs (Bradley & Monfore, 2004). However, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (1990), the prevalence of mental/emotional problems in children and adolescents may be as high as 22%. Examples of inappropriate school behaviors include talking out, frequently being out of seat, not starting assigned work, and being disrespectful to teachers and peers by using profanity. These behaviors, often exhibited by students with EBD, may contribute to the lower graduation rates, reading scores, and math scores experienced by students with EBD when compared to other disability groups (Kauffman, 2001). Mitchem, Young, West, & Benyo (2001) observed that disruptive behaviors in class, such as those previously mentioned, can not only decrease academic learning time for the disruptive student, but also for all other students in the class. As a consequence, teachers must spend more time managing disruptive behavior and have less time teaching academics. Teachers are clearly in need of effective classroom-based interventions for students with EBD.

Self-Monitoring

One intervention with a robust history of success in helping students overcome behavior problems is self-monitoring (Carr & Punzo, 1993; Harris, Friedlander, Saddler, Frizzelle, & Graham, 2005; Reid, Trout, & Schartz, 2005; Rock, 2005). Self-monitoring is a multi-stage process of observing and recording one's own behavior (Mace, Bel-fiore, & Hutchinson, 2001). The steps are often defined as teaching the student to 1) discriminate the occurrence or non-occurrence of a targeted behavior and, 2) self-record an aspect of this behavior such as on-task or off-task, or in the case of academics--rate and accuracy. A third step, self-graphing the behavior, has been shown through research to "play an important role in increasing both on-task behavior and academic performance" (DiGangi, Maag, & Rutherford, 1991, p. 229). Self-monitoring has been taught to students with typical development, giftedness, and autism (Rock, 2005), and students at-risk for behavior problems (Mitchem et al, 2001; Wood, Murdock, & Cronin, 2002). It had also been used for students with Attention-Deficit Hyper-Activity (DuPaul, Eckert, & McGoey, 1997; Harris et al. …

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