An Approach to Changing Teachers' Positive and Negative Verbalizations and its Effect on Student Attending Behavior
Stumme, James M.
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The problem. The purpose of this study was to analyze experimentally the effects on an elementary school principal's cueing technique on the number of positive and negative teacher verbalizations, and to measure the effect that this verbalization change had on the total number of students involved in on-task behavior in the classroom. Procedure. This research was conducted in two adjoining second grade classrooms in a rural elementary school in mid-Iowa. The elementary school principal served as the primary observer/experimenter, while the school psychologist functioned as an observer for reliability purposes. The two teachers who participated in this investigation had twenty-four and twenty-three students respectively in their classrooms ranging in age from seven years, six months, to eight years, eleven months. To analyze the treatment procedures a multiple-baseline design was employed for the two classrooms. This involved four sequential conditions consisting of: condition I (baseline), condition II (treatment one), condition III, (treatment two) , and condition IV (reversal). The baseline rate was taken for the number of positive, negative, and neutral teacher verbalizations, as well as the number of students involved in on-task behavior. The principal recorded the baseline for a duration of four consecutive days in Classroom A and for nine consecutive school days in Classroom B. During treatment one, which was applied for five consecutive days in each classroom, the principal recorded and cued the teachers each time they emitted a negative verbalization. Upon being cued the teachers were instructed to find four students engaged in attending behavior and praise them individually. Treatment two immediately followed with the only difference being that it was applied twice a week for a duration of three weeks rather than five consecutive days. At the conclusion of treatment two the principal returned to baseline and recorded only. Findings. The results demonstrated that the systematic application of the cueing technique by the principal substantially increased the number of positive teacher verbalizations and conversely decreased the number of negative teacher verbalizations. In Classroom A there was a positive teacher verbalization increase of 129 percent and a negative teacher verbalization decrease of 88 percent. In Classroom B there was a positive teacher verbalization increase of 344 percent and a negative teacher verbalization decrease of 88 percent. The results also demonstrated that this verbalization change effected an increase in the total number of students involved in on-task behavior. In Classroom A 16 percent more students were involved in on-task behavior, while in Classroom B 7 percent more students were involved in on-task behavior in posttreatment. Conclusions. This study yielded empirical evidence that an elementary school principal could apply a cueing technique to increase the number of positive teacher verbaltzatlons while decreasing the number of negative teacher verbalizations. This procedure and the resulting verbalization change directly increased the number of students involved in on-task behavior in both experimental classrooms. This study provided a simple yet viable procedure for principals to use to assist teachers directly in the classroom and a technique for teachers to use effectively with students. Recommendations. Recommendations include: (1) replication with principals at different grade levels; (2) replication with teachers who are less open, responsive, and cooperative (e. g. non-volunteers) than those involved in this study; (3) additional research exploring the effectiveness of these treatment conditions with minority students and urban communities.
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