Date of Award:

2016

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Special Education and Rehabilitation

Advisor/Chair:

Richard P. West

Abstract

Out-of-school time (OST) programs are under increasing pressure to improve student achievement. However, OST program administrators face a number of challenges to improving program effectiveness including inconsistent student participation, inexperienced staff members, and a lack of high-quality professional development. OST program administrators can address these challenges by implementing staff development practices that encourage the use of effective instructional strategies.

Specific praise is a simple and effective instructional strategy that has been linked to improved student engagement, enhanced academic achievement, and stronger student-teacher relationships. Unfortunately, there have been very few studies examining the effects of interventions designed to increase OST staff members’ use of specific praise. One staff development strategy that could be both feasible and effective is the use of self-management. Although there are a variety of approaches to self-management designed for teachers, not all self-management strategies are effective.

One strategy that might increase the feasibility and effectiveness of self-management programs is the use of student feedback. The process of comparing self-evaluations against a third-party standard such as student feedback is called matching in the self-management literature. Students can be a useful source of feedback because they observe their teachers frequently and can report the use of instructional strategies like specific praise. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a self-management procedure using student feedback on OST staff members’ use of specific praise. A multiple-baseline design across participants was used to examine the effects of the intervention on specific praise rates.

All participants increased their use of specific praise after implementing the self-management procedures. General praise rates became more variable throughout the study. These findings provide evidence for a functional effect on specific praise but not for general praise. Teachers reported high levels of satisfaction with the feasibility and effectiveness of the intervention. A statistically significant correlation was found between specific praise rates and student reports of specific praise.

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