Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Special Education and Rehabilitation


Richard P. West


Correlational research has shown the ratio of positive to negative interactions (PN ratio) between students and teachers may have an effect on the frequency and type of student behavior displayed in the context of teaching. Based on this research, PN ratio has become a prominent feature of many school improvement and teacher evaluation measures. While a variety of correlational data show a positive relationship between high PN ratios and improved student behavior in the classroom, there is little evidence assessing the extent to which instructors will increase PN ratios following didactic workshop training (relatively passive, one-session workshops with few opportunities for skill building). Additionally, the limited amount of available data suggests that increasing these ratios may be more difficult than expected. The purpose of this research was to assess the effectiveness of two interventions used to train after-school instructors to increase PN ratios. The first intervention (workshop training) followed a didactic workshop-training model. The second intervention (coaching) included the components of the didactic workshop model with the addition of modeling, role-play, and performance feedback. In this study four instructors in an after-school program were randomly assigned to one of two groups to participate in training programs. These programs were designed to help them increase PN ratios when interacting with students during homework time in the after-school program. Group 1 received only the workshop training, and Group 2 received the workshop training as well as the coaching intervention. Instructor behaviors were recorded during 15-minute observation sessions, and PN ratios were calculated for each instructor. All observation sessions took place in the context of homework time during regularly scheduled after-school programming. The study used AB/ABC design to assess the success of the two training models. Instructors in Group 1 showed no increases in the frequency of positive interactions or PN ratios. Instructors in Group 2 showed an increased frequency of positive interactions and increased PN ratios in the coaching condition. Results are discussed in terms of increases and decreases in the daily frequency of positive and negative interactions as well as the overall increases in PN ratio.