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Level Systems in EBD Classrooms: Are They Effective in Changing Behavior, and How are They Perceived by Teachers and Students?

  • Author(s): Dalton, Michelle Renee
  • Advisor(s): Wood, Jeffrey;
  • Walace, Michele
  • et al.

Classroom management is critical to maximizing academic success for all learners, yet problem behavior in the classroom is often reported as a primary concern for teachers who teach in self-contained classrooms for students with emotional and behavior disorders. While classroom management interventions are well documented for general education students, interventions for specialized populations are scarce, especially for classroom specific to students with emotional and behavior disorders. One intervention that is often implemented in this setting is a level system, an independent token economy, yet there is a lack of research supporting its effectiveness. Further, there is controversy by scholars in the field surrounding this type of intervention. Therefore, the current study utilized a mixed method design to examine the effectiveness of a level system intervention for the EBD population and determine how teachers and students perceived the intervention. Beginning with a multiple baseline across settings design with an embedded reversal, the study examined the effects of a level system on whole class disruption. Secondary outcome measures included whole class on-task behavior and work completion. Following the implementation of the level system, individual interview with teachers and group interviews with students were conducted to explore students’ and teachers’ reactions and feelings related to the level system. Results indicated that the level system intervention significantly decreased classroom disruptions and increased on-task behavior whereas work completion gains were modest. Implementation fidelity was assessed and while initially low, fidelity improved significantly. Based on the interviews, the three participating teachers perceived the intervention to be effective in decreasing problem behavior as well as increasing student accountability and self-confidence. For students, there was a range of opinions from loving to hating it, although, the majority of students liked it or were neutral. These findings suggest that the level system may be beneficial as a classroom management tool for decreasing disruptive behavior and increasing on-task behavior and work completion for EBD self-contained classrooms that is acceptable to teachers and tolerated by many students.

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