The impact of teaching self-determination skills on the on-task and off-task behaviors of students with emotional and behavioral disorders

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Kelly, John R., 1950-

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Historically, youth with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) have experienced higher rates of absenteeism, lower grade point averages, and higher course failure than their non-disabled peers; as a result, students with EBD are at significant risk of school failure, dropping out of school, and experiencing poor life outcomes. Emerging literature suggests that teaching self-determination to students with EBD may be an effective strategy to address the in-school and post-school challenges faced by youth with EBD. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of teaching self-determination on adolescents with EBD's on- and off-task behavior, grades, progress towards self-selected goals, and global self-determination. The Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI) was implemented with four high school students with EBD between the ages of 14 and 16 years who were having difficulty meeting classroom behavioral expectations in two general education classrooms. The SDLMI teaches key components of self-determination, is suitable for diverse students, and is compatible with major academic content areas. Twelve lessons were taught as a separate curriculum individually to each participant. The entire study took 25-weeks, between October and April, to complete. A multiple baseline across participants design was used to examine the functional relation between SDLMI intervention and the on- and off-task behaviors of high school students with EBD. The results showed that all four students significantly increased on-task behaviors and decreased off-task behaviors and all four participants maintained the increase of on-task behaviors and the decrease of off-task behaviors after the intervention was withdrawn. Moreover, all four students made progress towards their goal of implementing on-task behavior in the classroom and generalized on-task behavior to a second general education classroom. However, data regarding the impact on students' grades and self-determination were inconclusive. The study provides evidence of effective self-determination instruction that supports students to improve their behavior in a general education classroom. It also provides direction for future research exploring the relationship between behavior and academic skills. Contributions to the field, limitations, and implications for practice and future research are provided.



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