Emotional Behavior Disorder: Its Many Challenges

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Students with emotional behavior disorders (EBD) represent those whose didactic achievement is affected by some form of inappropriate behavior (Falk, Lane, Wehby, 2003). According to Kauffman, Landrum and Tankersley, (2003) students tend to depict high rates of inapt behavior and low rates of positive behavior as well as difficulties with academics that may be related to their behavioral extremities. They may also exhibit difficulties in social relationships with peers and adults. Nevertheless, Cushing, Dunlap and Fox (2002) suggest that early intervention can result in positive outcomes for children exhibiting challenging behavior.

Students with EBD frequently disrupt the classroom with negative behaviors. This behavior has been said to interfere with classroom instruction, thus leaving the educator to spend more time correcting the behavior and less time on teaching (Falk et.al. 2003). "More recent evidence has revealed that teachers in self-contained classrooms for students with EBD devote only 30% of the school day to actual academic instruction" (Wehby, 2003).

According to Falk et al (2003) learning environments for students with EBD lack various components necessary for those students to succeed. Findings suggest that these classrooms maintain a lack of praise, low expectancy of educational demands and high rates of reprimands. It is also suggested that the negative behaviors depicted by students with EBD influence the behavior of the educators thus affecting the academic setting as a whole. When students consistently respond to instruction with noncompliant behaviors, over a period of time, the teacher may provide less instruction.

Many teachers are also ill-prepared to deal with behavior and instructional modifications for students with EBD, partially due to the lack of preservice training. Most of the attention in preservice training is motivated toward behavioral modifications with less emphasis on instructional practices of students with EBD (Falk et al. 2003). A report from Westat Research Corporation stated that "up to 16% of teachers who serve primarily students with EBD are not certified in this area" (2002). According to Kauffman et. al. (2003) direct instruction has the most evidence of enhancing the academic success of learners who are struggling. Direct instruction includes structure, proper pacing of instruction, sequencing, stipulations of corrective advice and the opportunity to practice new skills.

Lack of research concerning the academic needs of students with EBD is extremely perplexing. Students with EBD have moderate to severe academic deficits compared to their general education peers and maintain some of the same learning deficiencies as students with learning disabilities (LD). Thus, it is important that researchers develop a curriculum to enhance the instructional methods in order for educators to properly educate these children (Falk et. al 2003).

Kauffman et al. (2003) believe that many behavioral procedures are not implemented correctly, thus leading to the conclusion that the procedures do not work. Two methods they suggest to increase the compliance of students with EBD include: precision requests which involve delivering directions in a predictable order with reinforcement and punishment (consequences) and time-out; the second is a behavioral momentum involving high-compliance directives with low-compliance directives. Teachers can alter consequences through positive reinforcement using praise when appropriate behavior is observed. Punishment is another consequence that reduces behavior. Due to its focus surrounding negative behavior and its reduction, it continues to be a source of controversy. However, it is sometimes necessary with students exhibiting EBD because they need more that one technique to aid them with behavior progression. Two punishment techniques include time-out and response cost. In time-out a student loses the privilege of positive...
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