Posted by: newperspectives85 | October 25, 2014

article critique summer 2012 educ 4080 7.9.12

Antoine Varner

EDUC 4080 UVA Wise Summer 2012

Dr. David Lee

Due Date: 7/9/12

Assignment 6: Article Critique

Author: Terrance M. Scott, Kristy Lee Park, Jessica Swain-Bradway, Eric Landers

Article Title: “Positive Behavior in the Classroom: Facilitating Behaviorally Inclusive Learning Environments” from The International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy. Summer 2007.

Author’s Thesis Statement: Scott, et al state that “classroom teachers deal with a variety of challenging student behaviors. In the minds of most are instances of violence and crime. However, the most common disciplinary referrals are for behaviors whose purpose is to avoid class (i.e. truancy and tardy), followed by fighting and bother others—also resulting in removal and therefore avoidance of class”


Scott, Park, Swain-Bradway, and Landers discuss the ideas behind positive behavior support or PBS, which is a tool used to maintain effective classroom management and improve student behavior. This system is used in light of daily occurrences in the public school setting along with the increased inclusion of special education students in the classroom. There are four steps to PBS: predicting problems, developing rules, routines, and physical arrangements to prevent them, actual implementation of strategies, and data collecting to evaluate instruction. First, one can understand the idea behind positive behavior support by looking at the life of a teacher.

The professional life of a teacher is stressful due to various challenging behaviors. However, extreme behavior problems that people think about are not the ones most common and stressful. According to Scott et al (2008), “in the minds of most are instances of violence and crime. However, the most common disciplinary referrals are for behaviors whose purpose is to avoid class such as truancy and tardiness, followed by fighting and bothering others, also leading to removal and avoidance of class” (para 1). The issues of violence and crime are not as common as people may think. People may think this due to past experiences from when they were growing up. In most schools though, it is the daily issues that cause the most stress due to the time taken away from instruction. Scott et al. (2008) state that “these behaviors include simple disrespect, failing to follow through with simple instructions, and generally being off-task” (para 1). It is not the big things that are the most problematic as they are not so common, but it is the smaller more common things that take away instruction time and are more stressful. In addition to challenging student behaviors from non-inclusion students, inclusion also creates more challenges for the teacher.

Today, the public school classroom is more diverse in academic and behavioral needs. This is due to inclusion of special needs students. With the special needs student being included in the classroom, it presents more challenges to the teacher—they may have to split the class into groups. Scott et al. (2008) states:

“Some siituations may require teachers to organize several small group activities throughout the classroom while at the same time while providing the instruction or guidance that students with special needs require. All this must occur while simultaneously maintaining some acceptable standard of classroom discipline” (para 2).

Some students may not have difficulty following routine or instruction, so placing them in a small group will not be a problem. They will excel and help those in the small group grasp the necessary material. With the students in the small group, the teacher can focus his or her attention on those with special needs. Unfortunately, the inclusion students may have problems of their own. Despite the small population of students with special needs, they are unfortunately the ones who get in more trouble. According to Scott et. al (2008):

“Although students with emotional and behavioral disorder represent only one to five percent of the student population, they also account for more than half of school discipline referrals, which increases the demand for teachers to possess skills and abilities to effectively manage behavior” (para 3).

It may be that teachers are not properly trained to work with special needs students or understand their issues. With that in mind, teachers must be able to the skills to effectively work with special needs students with emotional or behavioral disorders. With the diversity of students and behavioral concerns, positive behavior support can be used to help improve students’ behavior.

Positive behavior support is about predicting behaviors and preventing them. According to Scott et. al (2008) “under a PBS system, specifically designed rules, routines, and physical arrangements are usedto effectively decrease the number of problem behaviors that occur due to inadequate or poorly designed environments” (para 7). There are four steps to the PBS system. The first one involves predicting problems. Scott (2008) states that “the first step involves predicting problems in terms of who will fail, what that failure will look like, when and where failure is most likely, and why failure occurs under these circumstances” (para 7). When the teacher figures out the predicted behaviors as well as the students responsible, the next step is prevention.

Step two consists upon the prediction by developing rules, routines, and physical arrangements to prevent predicted problems. Rules specify what is expected of the student and is essential to improving student behaviors. This includes where the teacher is located in the classroom, the desk arrangements (whether they are in rows, or in groups of 4), and how to engage students in class activities. With the diversity in students (inclusive and non-inclusive), some students may be able to follow routine and have little trouble with instructions, but those who are disabled may need more attention to gain success. This step requires teachers to figure out where the students may fail and where to go from there. Scott et at. (2008) state that “strategies may include: pre-correction, desk arrangement to allow for better traffic flow, or specific procedures for problematic routines” (para 14). This is with the predicted behaviors in mind of not just the students without disabilities but those with emotional and behavior disorders as well. A student may be closer to the teacher’s desk and may remind the substitute teacher to have the student sit at the teacher’s desk. With the second step, the teacher has to figure out the appropriate arrangements to improve student behavior. After predicting behaviors and developing rules, routines, and physical arrangements, it is time for the third step which is implementation.

Step three consists of the actual implementation of the strategies. With the implementation, consistency is very important. Without it, there will be confusion in the classroom and instruction will fail. Scott (2008) explains that “for example, if the teacher teaches and implements classroom rules and routines, but other adults who also work in the classroom do not, instruction will be ineffective in the same manner as it would if the answer varied by teacher or context” (para 15). Some classes have co-instructors due to the inclusion of students with special needs. The co-instructors need to have the same rules for the class or confusion will be present. Routine involves the daily activities of the day—whether they be homework checks, warm-ups, or quizzes. Arrangements such as desks can help to ensure that classroom rules will be followed. With predicting behaviors of students and preventing them via desk arrangements and adult supervision, positive student behavior will be encouraged.

Step four involves collecting data to evaluate instruction. This is done after observing a classroom’s behavior and stepping back to examine whether routines and arrangements are working or does it need to change. Scott (2008) state that “when our monitoring indicates that students are meeting their instructional objectives we continue with those successful strategies. When data indicates failure, we must reconsider and change instruction and our routines and arrangements as necessary to facilitate success” (para 7). When collecting data and one finds failure in their attempts to improve student behavior, one must make necessary changes.

An example of data collecting was done in Scott’s article involves the case study of Mrs. Clondike. Mrs. Clondike had a class that was sometimes hard and sometimes difficult. Evaluating things, Clondike asked several questions. Scott (2008) mentions these questions:

  1. Have I taught specific rules?
  2. Do students know procedures for every day class activities
  3. Do physical arrangements maximize traffic flow and minimize distractions? (para 19)

These were the questions Mrs. Clondike asked.

Mrs. Clondike along with several other teachers asked similar questions due to problem behaviors observed. With the data collection, they observed behaviors such as talking out of turn, or out of seat to sharpen pencils, or get materials, which distracted not only those in the back but those who needed quiet space to finish their work.

The teachers addressed predictable problems, and then worked on a plan to prevent them in the future. Scott et al (2008) state:

“Routines were outlined and posted next to problem areas like the back table, where daily materials were kept, and at the sink. Listed as simple, brief procedural steps, posting routines included: how and when to sharpen pencils, obtain materials for class activities, get a drink of water, and wash hands” (para 21)

In addition, rules were also made clear to the students so they would know what to expect.

With the prevention step, desk arrangements were made with the students being placed in pods, and the teacher’s desk in the back to increase supervision.

The goal: reduce off-task behaviors

The rules were taught consistently as part of step 3:

Example: “Great job waiting your turn at the sink, Tim” (para 26)

“Thanks Olivia for raising your hand”

“Donovan, I like the way you waited until after teacher instruction to sharpen your pencil”

–specific praise was used to maintain appropriate behaviors.

Credentials/areas of expertise of the author?

Terrance M. Scott—has written two articles:

  1. “A school wide example of positive behavior support” Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions. 2001
  2. M. Scott, C.M. Nelson and C. Liaupsin—“Effective Instruction: The forgotten component in preventing school violence” Education and Treatment of Children

This is not the first article Scott has written on positive behavior support. He wrote one in 2001. So, his area of interest is most likely in positive behavior support.

With the other three authors, their specialty may also be in the area of positive behavior support and learning environments. The authors used several sources while writing the article. The case study involving Mrs. Clondike was also used to demonstrate how the PBS or positive behavior support system worked. The evidence used by the authors was accurate. It is not the violence or crime that is the issue, but the smaller issues such as being off task or classroom disorder which is the most difficult and stressful part of a teacher’s professional life. With that in mind, the PBS system helps to make classroom management and improving positive student behavior better. The article is still valid as the PBS system can best be used in an elementary school setting where teachers are more likely to deal with getting kids to follow the rules and improve positive student behavior.   The authors were successful in making their point about the PBS system


I agree with the authors about the positive behavior support system as a way of improving positive student behavior. This is more appropriate for the elementary school setting. Regarding the introduction to the article, the authors were dead-on about what stresses out teachers the most—it is not so much the violence and crime issues but the everyday issues. The issues of violence and crime in the school is most likely to be found in the inner city school systems. The everyday issues such as being off-task, general disorder, and being disrespectful stresses out the teacher due to the instructional time it takes away. As a substitute teacher, I have not ran into serious issues of violence and crime, but the everyday occurrences. As the authors point out, most of the disciplinary referrals are given for things like truancy and tardiness. As a substitute teacher, the majority of the referrals (6 out of 7) I have written have been for skipping class or being out of class without permission—which is the most stressful part of my job and all other teachers—student behavior. Some of the referrals have been for kids with special needs (LD and ED)—the authors mentioned that the kids with special needs in a mainstream class account for more of the disciplinary referrals. It is not that all special education kids in a mainstream class act out or cause problems, but maybe they just want to test the boundaries. It does take a very special teacher to understand the special needs of a student in mainstream classes, and implement the PBS system—it could be used in classes with special needs students (LD, ED, and those with mild or moderate intellectual disabilities). The idea of placing students in small groups can definitely work as they will be able to excel and help their fellow classmates with the material, so that the teacher can focus along with maybe a co-instructor on the special needs kids. In several classes at the high school I normally sub at, there are co-instructors (special education teachers) who work with the regular teacher in classes where there are special needs students.

The article does a great job in explaining the positive behavior support system. The four steps given is very helpful for teachers in elementary school or special education to implement in their classrooms. They are a good way of evaluating positive behavior and whether the methods being used are effective or need to be changed.


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