Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Liberal Studies

First Advisor

Patricia R. Whitfield, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Ruth L. Meese, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jennifer M. Apperson, Ph.D.


The author assessed the self reported behaviors of mainstream academic high school teachers who teach students with emotional/behavioral disorders with respect to preferred consequences for inappropriate student behaviors. Teachers were surveyed from four counties and asked to respond to an inappropriate student behavior with 1) positive reinforcement of the appropriate student behavior, 2) punishment of an inappropriate student behavior, 3) consequence which resulted in student escape from the academic task (negative reinforcement) or a free response of the teacher's choice. Results indicated that 49.6% of teacher responses were examples of positive reinforcement, 25.4% negative reinforcement, 6.4% punishment and 18.6% other responses. A chi squared test demonstrated a significant difference between the observed responses and the expected responses for the overall results. Positive reinforcement was chosen more frequently than expected, while negative reinforcement was chosen as often as expected . These findings suggest that both reinforcement techniques are being chosen by mainstream academic teachers who teach students with emotional/behavioral disorders, despite research which suggests that negative reinforcement is ineffective for reducing inappropriate student behaviors .



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