Evidence-Based Teaching Strategies for Students With EBD
Joseph B. Ryan, Clemson UniversityCorey D. Pierce, University of Northern ColoradoGreeleyPaul Mooney, Louisiana State University
Students with emotional andbehavioral disorders (EBD)struggle in school, perhaps
more so than any other group ofstudents. Whereas it is commonlyrecognized that these children andadolescents have severe social skillsdeficits, which impede developmentof meaningful relationships withpeers and teachers, it is also true thatstudents with EBD evidencesignificant academic deficiencies. Onaverage, these students perform 1.22grade levels behind their peers whilein elementary school (Trout,Nordness, Pierce, & Epstein, 2003).
Unfortunately, this discrepancyonly worsens with age, and by thetime these students reach highschool, they are performing almost3.5 grade levels below their peers,with less than one third of studentswith EBD functioning at or abovegrade level in any academic area(Coutinho, 1986; Epstein, Kinder, &Bursuck, 1989). This is notsurprising, given that more than halfof students with EBD also may meetone or more of the eligibility criteriafor a learning disability (Glassberg,Hooper, & Mattison, 1999). Thesesignificant academic deficits haveresulted in students with EBDattaining one of the worst graduationrates (32.1%) of students with anydisability (U.S. Department ofEducation, 2006). Given that manystudents with EBD fail to masterbasic academic skills that areessential to functioning successfullywithin the community, this elevatedschool dropout rate only makes asuccessful transition to the jobmarket more challenging (Gunter &Denny, 1998). As a result, 4 yearsafter leaving high school, thispopulation experiences a postschool
unemployment rate of 52% (DAmico& Marder, 1991).
Despite these dismal academicoutcomes, the majority ofinterventions conducted with thesechildren have focused primarily onbehavior modification, oftenneglecting glaring academicdeficiencies (Ryan, Reid, & Epstein,2004). Recently, however, researchershave begun to place an increasedemphasis on addressing the academicdeficits of students with EBD toincrease their engagement in school,with the hope of improvinggraduation rates (Mooney, Epstein,Reid, & Nelson, 2003). Given thedaunting challenges that teachers ofstudents with EBD face whileattempting to address these studentssocial and academic deficiencies, it isimportant they incorporateempirically based teaching methodsinto their classrooms to maximizetheir teaching effectiveness.
Recently, researchers at theUniversity of Nebraskas Center forAt-Risk Childrens Services (e.g.,Epstein, Nelson, Trout, & Mooney,2005) summarized the interventionliterature targeted at improving theacademic skills and performance ofstudents with EBD served in publicschools. Conclusions from analyses ofthis small body of literature indicatedthat positive outcomes were reportedacross participants, settings, andsubject areas (Nelson, Benner, &Mooney, 2008). In general, theseresearchers divided academicinterventions into three primarycategories: (a) peer-mediatedinterventions (e.g., cross-age tutoring,classwide peer tutoring), in which thestudents peers were responsible forproviding instruction; (b) self-mediated interventions (e.g., self-
monitoring, self-evaluation), in whichthe responsibility for implementingan intervention rested with thestudents themselves; and (c) teacher-mediated interventions (e.g., storymapping, mnemonics) wherein theteacher provided the academicinstruction to the students.
The purpose of this manuscript istwofold: (a) to highlight findings ofthese literature reviews covering overthree decades of research conductedwith students with EBD; and (b) toprovide teachers a condensedsummary of teaching strategies thathave demonstrated efficacy ineducating some of the mostchallenging students in todaysschools.
Each author acted as leadresearcher/author for one of threedifferent academic literature reviewsthat assessed the efficacy of threetypes of academic interventions (i.e.,peer-mediated, self-mediated, andteacher-mediated) for students withEBD (see Mooney, Ryan, Uhing, Reid,& Epstein, 2005; Pierce, Reid, &Epstein, 2004; Ryan et al., 2004). To beincluded in these three reviews,articles: (a) must have been publishedin a peer reviewed journal within thepast 40 years; (b) must contain anoriginal report of quasi-experimentalor experimental research; (c) mustinclude manipulation of anindependent variable; and (d) mustinclude at least one academicmeasure as a dependent variable.Study participants were required tohave a verified emotional, behavioral,or conduct disorder, disability, ordisturbance, either through theIndividuals with Disabilities
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Education Act (IDEA) orclassification systems of theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual ofMental Disorders IV, or to be describedas having behavioral or emotionalproblems while being educated in aself-contained classroom for studentswith EBD.
Peer-mediated interventionsrequire students to implement teacher-selected instruction for their peers asopposed to the more traditionalmethod of teacher-led instruction(Hoff & Robinson, 2002). A widevariety of techniques fall under the
peer-mediated instruction category,including peer modeling, peermonitoring, peer network strategies,peer tutoring, cross-age tutoring,reverse-role tutoring, classwide peertutoring (CWPT), peer-assistedlearning strategies (PALS), classwidestudent tutoring teams, reciprocal peertutoring, peer counseling, peerassessment, peer mentoring, andcooperative learning (Utley &Mortweet, 1997). A brief descriptionfor each of these instructionalmethodologies and the age groups(e.g., elementary and secondary) withwhich they have demonstratedefficacy is provided in Table 1.
After applying inclusion criteria,Ryan and colleagues (2004) identified
14 studies from nine different specialeducation journals that involvedpeer-mediated interventionsconducted with students with EBD.These studies included 169participants, of whom 64% were boysand 16% were girls. Five of thestudies (36%) were conducted withparticipants between the ages of 6and 11 years (n 5 44), and theremaining 9 studies (64%) involvedadolescents older than 12 years of age(n 5 125).
Overall, peer-mediatedinterventions demonstrated stronglypositive findings relative toimproving academic performance. Asreported by effect size (ES), whichrepresents the strength of an
Table 1 TYPES OF PEER-MEDIATED INTERVENTIONS
Classwide peer tutoring(CWPT)
Entire class simultaneously participates in tutoring dyads. Duringeach tutoring session, students can participate as both tutor andtutee, or they can participate as either the tutor or tutee.
Cooperative learning Small teams composed of students with different levels of ability usea variety of learning activities to improve the teams understandingof a subject. Each member of a team is responsible not only forlearning what is taught but also for helping teammates learn.
Cross-age tutoring Older students are matched with younger students to deliverinstruction. Tutors are typically at least 2 years older than the tutees.There do not need to be large differences in skill levels between thetutor and tutee.
Peer tutoring Students who need remedial support are paired with select tutors(perhaps highly skilled peers, peers also in need of remedial work, orcross-age tutors). Each member of the dyad may receive and providetutoring in the same content area, or tutors can provide instruction ina content area in which they are highly skilled.
A version of CWPT in which teachers identify children who requirehelp on specific skills and the most appropriate children to helpthem learn those skills. Pairs are changed regularly, and over time,as students work on a variety of skills, all students have theopportunity to be coaches and players.
Peer assessment Peers are used to assess the products or outcomes of learning ofother students of similar status.
Peer modeling Students acting as peer models receive instruction in desiredbehaviors, then engage in these behaviors in front of studentsdeficient in these areas. The teacher draws the students attention tothe peer model and identifies the desired behaviors the studentshould emulate.
Peer reinforcement Peers provide reinforcement for appropriate responses within thenatural environment. The purpose is to reinforce appropriatebehaviors of students with disabilities by their peers.
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S P R I N G 2 0 0 8 2 3
intervention or outcome through anumerical rating in which an ES of 00.3 is considered small, 0.30.8 ismedium, and greater than 0.8 is large(Cohen, 1988), the results were quiteremarkable. The authors reported thatthe overall ES of peer-mediatedinterventions was 1.875. Whenevaluating the effectiveness of peer-mediated interventions acrossacademic subject areas, the findingswere equally impressive, with largegains seen in math (2.08), history(1.15), and reading (0.81). In addition,Ryan et al. (2004) found that studentsbenefited from this form of instructionregardless of the role they held, be it astutor (2.02), tutee (0.63), or whensharing both roles (2.12). Similarpositive findings were reported evenacross age groups, be they inelementary grades or high school.Finally, and critical to practitioners,both the students and teachers enjoyedusing peer-mediated interventions,reporting high levels of consumersatisfaction. Students made positivecomments, claiming that tutoringhelped them understand their peersneeds (e.g., empathy), as well as howto ignore inappropriate behavior.
Two specific peer-mediatedinterventions that demonstrated high
levels of efficacy were cross-age andsame-age peer tutoring. A successfulexample of cross-age peer tutoringwas conducted by Cochran, Feng,Cartledge, and Hamilton (1993). Inthis study a special education teacherhad half her class of fifth-gradeAfrican American boys acting astutors for teaching sight words toyounger students. The tutees werelow-performing second-gradeAfrican American boys also identifiedwith EBD. Following 8 weeks of peertutoring sessions that lastedapproximately 30 minutes per day,both the tutors and tutees showedgreater increases in both sight wordsand positive social interactions thandid their classmates who had notparticipated in peer tutoring.
Similarly, Falk and Wehby (2001)demonstrated the efficacy of same-age peer tutoring by implementing aninstructional program calledkindergarten peer-assisted learningstrategy (K-PALS), in which higher-functioning readers were paired withlower-performing classmates forreading instruction. The studentsswapped roles throughout thesemester, each taking turns as eitherthe coach or reader during a varietyof activities developed to enhance
reader fluency and comprehension.Results of the study found thatstudents increased reading skills bothin letter-sound correspondence andin blending sounds.
In conclusion, Ryan andcolleagues (2004) review of peer-mediated interventions demonstratedthat this form of instruction has theability to produce large academicgains for students with EBD in amanner that both teachers andstudents enjoy. In addition, Utley andMortweet (1997) posited that peer-mediated interventions provide bothan effective means for offsetting highteacher-pupil ratios and an effectivealternative to one-on-one instructionfor students with severe academicdeficiencies.
Self-mediated interventions arethose in which the studentsthemselves are responsible forproviding academic instruction.There are five common types of self-mediated interventions (also knownas self-management or self-regulationinterventions), including self-monitoring, self-evaluation, self-instruction, goal setting, and strategyinstruction. Table 2 provides a brief
Table 2 TYPES OF SELF-MEDIATED INTERVENTIONS
Self-monitoring A two-stage process of observing and recording ones behaviorwherein the student: (a) discriminates occurrence/nonoccurrence ofa target behavior; and (b) self-records some aspect of the targetbehavior.
Self-evaluation A process wherein a student compares her/his performance to apreviously established criterion set by student or teacher (e.g.,improvement of performance over time) and is awardedreinforcement based on achieving the criterion.
Self-instruction A procedure wherein a student uses self-statements to directbehavior.
Goal setting A process wherein a student self-selects a behavioral target (e.g.,term paper completion), which serves to structure student effort,provide information on progress, and motivate performance.
Strategy instruction A process wherein a student is taught a series of steps toindependently follow in solving a problem or achieving an outcome.
Note. Goal-setting was used as part of a multicomponent intervention.
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description of each and the specificage groups with which they havedemonstrated efficacy, based oncurrent research. In self-mediatedinterventions, teachers are initiallyresponsible for teaching studentshow to carry out the instructionalactivities and ensuring that studentscan, in fact, complete the tasks.Eventually, the responsibility forcarrying out the task transfers to thestudent.
In all, Mooney and colleagues(2005) identified 22 studies that metinclusionary criteria. These studiesinvolved 78 participants. Studentsages 511 were included in 12 of thestudies (n 5 40), with 9 of the studiesincluding only students in that agegroup. Students 12 years of age andolder were participants in 8 studies (n5 38) by themselves and in 3 studieswith younger age students (i.e., 5- to11-year-olds).
Overall, Mooney and colleagues(2005) review of self-mediatedinterventions demonstrated positivefindings for these academicinterventions. The ES or strength ofthese interventions was impressive.The authors found the overall ES ofself-mediated interventions was large(1.80). Individual ESs for each specifictype of self-mediated interventionwere also large, including those forself-monitoring (1.90), self-evaluation(1.13), strategy instruction (1.75), andself-instruction (2.71). Whencomparing the effectiveness of theseinterventions for specific academicsubject areas, self-mediatedinterventions resulted in large gainsin writing (1.13), math (1.97), reading(2.28), and social studies (2.66). Areview of Table 2 indicates that self-mediated interventions were morelikely to be used in research aimed atsecondary-age students.
We highlight two specificexamples of effective self-mediatedinterventions. The first interventioninvolves a self-monitoringintervention, whereas the second is astrategy-instruction intervention.Regarding self-monitoring,...