The Utah Special Educator
Utah Personnel Development Center
Every teacher has had the experience of teaching a student who exhibits difficult behaviors; the kind of behaviors that make it hard for the teacher to teach and hard for the student to learn. One popular intervention has been to give the student social skills training. Teaching students the social skills they lack is a natural choice for teachers because it is similar to how they teach academic skills. And yet, despite the natural fit, social skills training has not always been an effective intervention. Researchers have studied social skills training at every level of intervention. They have studied it as a Tier 1 class-wide or school-wide intervention, as a Tier 2 small group intervention, and as a Tier 3 individualized intensive intervention. At every level, the research has produced mixed and often unimpressive results (Gresham, 1998; Gresham, Sugai, & Horner, 2001). These results bring up an important question, “Should teachers and related service providers continue to use social skills training to address the problem behavior of students?” The remainder of this article will address this question. First, social skills will be defined along with the variety of problems that typical social skills programs suffer from. Second, a review of some of the research literature on Tier 2 social skills training will be provided. Finally, recommendations for improving social skills training interventions will be discussed.
Scott Ross forwarded me your request for the author's post print copy of Sabey, C., & Ross, S. (September, 2012). Getting more from social skills. The Utah Special Educator, 35(1), 32-36.