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Challenging Behaviour in Schools: The Psychological Contribution Andy Miller 18th February 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Challenging Behaviour in Schools: The Psychological Contribution Andy Miller 18th February 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Challenging Behaviour in Schools: The Psychological Contribution Andy Miller 18th February 2008

2 Key texts Miller, A (2003) Teachers, Parents and Classroom Behaviour. A Psychosocial Approach. Maidenhead. Open University Press. Frederickson, N. Miller, A. & Cline, T. (2008) Educational Psychology (Topics in Advanced Psychology). London. Hodder Arnold. (available 28/3/08)

3 What can psychology offer? Applied behavioural analysis Systems theory Attribution theory Interpersonal (consultative) skills

4 What is challenging behaviour (in schools)? (then …) Few teachers in our survey reported physical aggression towards themselves. Most of these did not rate it as the most difficult behaviour with which they had to deal. Teachers in our survey were most concerned about the cumulative effects of disruption to their lessons caused by relatively trivial but persistent misbehaviour The Elton Report (1989)

5 What is challenging behaviour (in schools)? (… and now) The most common forms of misbehaviour are incessant chatter, calling out, inattention and other forms of nuisance that irritate staff and interrupt learning. Ofsted, The Annual Report of HMs Chief Inspector of Schools 2003/2004, (February 2005)

6 Forms of challenging behaviour These large scale studies regularly identify talking out of turn (TOOT) and hindering other children (HOC) as the major concern of teachers. But, of course, there are other lower incidence types of challenging behaviour: bullying, violence, self injury, mental health problems, some autistic behaviour etc.

7 Rationale for Applied Behavioural Analysis in educational settings First published study was carried out by Madsen et al in 1968 in the USA sought to demonstrate that: behaviour is learned thus pupils can learn acceptable and productive classroom behaviour changing the environment can create the conditions for new behaviour to be learned Studied the effects of praise; ignoring; clear statements of rules on inappropriate behaviour

8 Inappropriate behaviour of one problem child as a function of experimental conditions (from Madsen et al 1968)

9 Distinctive features of ABA approaches concern with demonstrating the effects of alterations to antecedents and consequences upon behaviour precise descriptions of behaviour careful records in graphical form record taken during baseline period

10 Problems with generalisation improved behaviour of child to other settings? improved behaviour of child influences other children? changed teacher behaviour extends beyond the intervention? changed teacher behaviour extends to other pupils? teacher influences the behaviour of teacher colleagues?

11 A word about reinforcers … The dangers of behavioural overkill (Wheldall 1981) - the use of very powerful reinforcers where a more natural reinforcer would suffice: intrinsic social activity token material (Goodwin & Coates 1976)

12 A word about punishment….. Research has shown ABA strategies can be successful without the inclusion of punishments People usually react badly to punishments (e.g. traffic warden) - can lead to punishment-elicited aggression Societys tolerance for the punishment of children is steadily decreasing (with some exceptions) In an increasingly litigious society where there is research evidence that non-aversive approaches work, staff will become increasingly vulnerable if they advocate the use of punishments

13 A word about punishment….. Research has shown ABA strategies can be successful without the inclusion of punishments People usually react badly to punishments (e.g. traffic warden) - can lead to punishment-elicited aggression Societys tolerance for the punishment of children is steadily decreasing (with some exceptions) In an increasingly litigious society where there is research evidence that non-aversive approaches work, staff will become increasingly vulnerable if they advocate the use of punishments

14 From consequences to antecedents although Madsen et al (1968) gave prominence to classroom rules, many early subsequent studies(and popular perceptions) became bound up with rewards and punishments dont forget the curriculum (Harrop & McNamara 1979) rows or tables- rows had the greatest effect on the children with low initial on-task behaviour ( Wheldall et al 1981; Hastings and Wood 2002)

15 From on-task behaviour to socially useful outcomes Be still, be quiet, be docile (Winnet & Winkler 1972) the need to teach skills instead - pupils who were likely to succeed academically more likely to receive naturally occurring praise and encouragement juggling and unicycles (Burland 1979)

16 From primary-, to secondary-level applications Despite published account of successful work in primary and special schools, much harder in secondary schools McNamara and Harrop (1979), after attempting to repeat workshops that were successful at primary level with secondary teachers concluded that lack of transfer might be due to either features of adolescence and- or secondary schools

17 From external control to self control self-recording studies (e.g. Merrett & Blundell 1982) attempted to overcome coordination of a large number of teachers and to improve students self regulation time sampling by teacher and student, later with rewarded tallies that agreed (only) increased on-task behaviour from 30% to more than 60%

18 From a focus solely on behaviour to the inclusion of cognition and affect early clinical applications of ABA with adults soon extended into considerations of the thoughts and feelings of clients cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) developed by Beck in slower take up but recently Greig (2007) has provided a detailed analysis of challenges in applying CBT to contexts and problems particular to EPs

19 From individual pupils to whole-class approaches first British whole class strategy by Tsoi & Yule (1976) used extra break time as a reinforcer and found two types of strategy to be effective: behaviour of a single child formed the basis for reinforcement behaviour of whole class required to change

20 From reactive strategies to preventative approaches becoming concerned with preventative measures, various educational psychologists developed teacher training materials for example, Galvin et al (1990), in Building A Better Behaved School addressed: individual pupil management techniques whole class strategies school-wide behaviour policies all incorporating rules, praise and sanctions

21 The Staffordshire Pindown Experience The existence of the regime that eventually became known as Pindown first became known to the outside world in 1989, when an adolescent girl was found to have been confined to a barely furnished room for long periods; required to wear night clothes during the day; deprived of contact, education and sensory stimulus; and prevented from communicating with other children or going out…. It eventually emerged that 132 children aged from 9 to 17 had been subjected to Pindown between 1983 and 1989 from Abuse of Children and Young People in Residential Care Scottish Parliament Information Centre Briefing. November 26 th, 2004, page 9.

22 The official inquiry into Pindown concluded that Pindown … is likely to have stemmed initially from an ill-digested understanding of behavioural psychology. The regime had no theoretical framework and no safeguards Levy, A and Kahan, B (1991), The Pindown Experience and the Protection of Children. Staffordshire County Council.

23 Ethics British Psychological Society Code of Ethics and Conduct 3.1 Standard of General Responsibility Psychologists should: (i) Avoid harming clients, but take into account that the interests of different clients may conflict. The psychologist will need to weigh these interests and the potential harm caused by alternative courses of action or inaction.

24 Educational Legislation and Guidance Special Educational Needs Code of Practice Pastoral Support Programmes Home-School Agreements Employ terms such as plans, targets, rewards, sanctions, clear explicit rules etc Also SMART (specific, measurable, achievable/attainable, realistic and time-related) targets

25 Current status of ABA? Is it common sense (carrots and sticks etc) made overly complicated by psychologists? Is it theoretically barren and ethically questionable? Is it an it (i.e. one set of commonly agreed techniques or a general term covering important variations?) Have education professionals abandoned ABA and, if so, why? Has ABA seeped into the very fabric of government thinking about education?

26 References Evertson, C.M. & Weinstein, C.S. (Eds) (2006) Handbook of Classroom Management. London. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Frederickson, N. Miller, A. & Cline, T. (2008) Educational Psychology (Topics in Advanced Psychology). London. Hodder Arnold. (available 28/3/08) Greig, A. (2007) A framework for the delivery of cognitive behaviour therapy in the educational psychology context. Educational and Child Psychology 24, 1, Lavigna, G (2000) Alternatives to Punishment. Irvington Publishers Inc.,U.S. Miller, A (1996) Pupil Behaviour and Teacher Culture. London. Cassell. Miller, A (2003) Teachers, Parents and Classroom Behaviour. A Psychosocial Approach. Maidenhead. Open Univeristy Press. Porter, L (2007) Behaviour in Schools. Theory and Practice for Teachers. Maidenhead. Open University Press.


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