A Meta-Analysis of Interventions to Decrease Disruptive Classroom Behavior in Public Education Settings

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NICHCY’s Structured Abstract 61 describes the following:

Title | A Meta-Analysis of Interventions to Decrease Disruptive Classroom Behavior in Public Education Settings

Authors | Stage, S.A., & Quiroz, D.R.

Source School Psychology Review, 26(3), 333-68.

Year Published | 1997

Abstract
Describes a meta-analysis* of 99 studies that used interventions to decrease disruptive classroom behavior in public education settings. Overall, results indicate interventions yield comparable results to other studies investigating effectiveness of psychotherapy. Findings show that efficacious treatments used in public school settings decrease disruptive classroom behaviors.

Background
Students who frequently display disruptive behavior during elementary school are at increased risk for serious emotional and behavioral disorders in the future. School psychologists are often consulted about which interventions are most effective for children with disruptive behavior.

This meta-analysis examines the effectiveness of some of the most commonly used interventions for disruptive behavior, including:

  • Behavioral Interventions, such as token economies, timeout, over-correction, differential reinforcement*, response-cost procedures, group contingencies*, home-based contingencies, stimulus cueing, and self-management interventions.*
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions*, such as anger control programs, affective imagery, self-instructional training programs, and social problem-solving interventions.
  • Individual Counseling with individual therapists or school personnel who have been trained in counseling techniques.
  • Parent Training, where the child’s parents are taught how to use strategies such as differential reinforcement, compliance training, or timeout.

Research Questions
This study compared the effectiveness of behavioral interventions in managing disruptive classroom behavior in public education settings.

Research Design
Meta-Analysis*

  • Number of Studies Included | 99
  • Number of Subjects | 5,057
  • Years Spanned | 1967-1995

Research Subjects
5,057.  From the studies that reported demographic information: 615 students were female; 910 were male.

Age/Grade of Subjects
4-18 years old

Specified Disability
AD/HD, Serious Emotional Disorders, Learning Disabilities, and Mental Retardation.

Intervention
To be included in the study, participants had to have received treatment to reduce disruptive classroom behavior. Treatments were grouped into 16 categories: token economies or point systems, differential reinforcement, response cost, group contingencies, teacher approval or disapproval, peer management, noncontingent exercise programs, home-based contingencies, functional assessments, self-management interventions, stimulus-cue interventions, punishment, cognitive-behavioral interventions, parent-training, parent-child communication training, or individual counseling.

Duration of Intervention
N/A

Findings

  1. Group contingencies*, self-management strategies*, and differential reinforcement were significantly more effective in reducing disruptive classroom behavior than cognitive-behavioral interventions.
  2. There was no specific type of behavioral consequence that was more effective than another.
  3. Students with emotional disturbance were more responsive to interventions than students with oppositional defiant or conduct disorder;
  4. Interventions were more successful in self-contained classrooms.

Combined Effects Size
A total of 223 effect sizes yielded a mean effect size of -.78, indicating that, on average, 78% of treated students reduced their disruptive behavior compared to untreated students.

Conclusion/Recommendations
The conclusion that emerges from this meta-analysis is that behavioral interventions more effectively reduce disruptive behavior than do cognitive behavioral interventions. The most effective behavioral interventions appear to be:

  • Group contingencies—These are similar to token economies; however, in group contingencies, the group as a whole earns and receives the reinforcement.
  • Self-management strategies—In these interventions, students learn to monitor and evaluate their own behavior and use self-reinforcement techniques.
  • Differential reinforcement—In this approach, reinforcement is based on a predetermined low level or absence of disruptive behavior during a specified time period. As long as students experienced some form of consequence for their behavior, whether that consequence was positive, negative, or combined did not significantly change the outcome.

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* Terms Defined

Cognitive-behavioral interventions (CBI) | CBI is a broad term that encompasses cognitive-behavioral modification (CBM) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It is a behavior modification approach that promotes self-control skills and reflective problem-solving strategies. Interventions combine elements of behavior therapy (modeling, feedback, reinforcement) with cognitive approaches (problem solving, self-monitoring, self-instruction, communication skill building, relaxation, and situational self-awareness training) to teach individuals to recognize difficult situations, think of possible solutions, and select the most appropriate response.

Differential reinforcement | In this approach, reinforcement is based on a predetermined low level or absence of disruptive behavior during a specified time period. Consequences for behavior may be positive, negative, or combined.

Effect size (ES or d) | A statistical calculation, often represented as ES or d, that measures the impact of an intervention. An effect size below d = 0.20 suggests that a treatment did not have a significant effect. An effect size of d = 0.20 is considered small or low; an effect size of d = 0.50 is considered moderate; an effect size of d = 0.80 or above is large.

Group contingencies | These are similar to token economies. However, in group contingencies, the group as a whole earns and receives the reinforcement.

Meta-analysis | A widely-used research method in which (1) a systematic and reproducible search strategy is used to find as many studies as possible that address a given topic; (2) clear criterion are presented for inclusion/exclusion of individual studies into a larger analysis; and (3) results of included studies are statistically combined to determine an overall effect (effect size) of one variable on another.

Self-management interventions | In these interventions, students learn to monitor and evaluate their own behavior and use self-reinforcement techniques.

Self-management strategies | Students learn ways (strategies) to monitor and evaluate their own behavior and use self-reinforcement techniques.

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