Student Research 2016

2016 Research Grant Results

Name: Laura Kern, JD, PhD

Title:  Project RECESS: Restructuring Environmental Contingencies and Enhancing Self-Managed

Research Proposal: Playgrounds are often areas with less structure and increases in student inappropriate behavior. Active supervision is a proven technique to reduce the negative student behavior (Lewis et al., 2000). Recess supervisors benefit from instruction on how to actively supervise and provide positive places for students to thrive on the playground. Increasing interactions with students, scanning the problematic areas, and moving through the playground are key to actively supervising in this setting.

The purpose of this study was to explore potential effects of a brief training on active supervision and self-management and the use of a simple strategy of self-management (e.g., checklist and Direct Behavior Rating Scales [DBRs]) to change adult behavior. I used a single-subject multiple baseline design across four participants and observed movement (e.g., rate of steps taken and changes in locations), scanning (e.g., looking around), and interacting (e.g., communicating with students). For interacting, I also recorded rates of prompt, praise (e.g., specific and general), corrections (e.g., specific and general), and other interactions (e.g., student or adult-initiated). Additionally, student behavior (e.g., moderate and problematic) was observed to see if there was improvement. Finally, DBR’s were used to attempt to maintain any increases that were seen in the intervention phases.

Research Questions: Three research questions were addressed related to recess supervisor and student behaviors:

  1. What are the effects of a brief training on self-management on recess supervisors’ active supervision behaviors?
  2. What are the effects of increasing active supervision on students’ problematic behavior during recess?
  3. Will any increase in recess supervisor’s use of self-management be maintained with the sole use of direct behavior rating scales as part of a self-management strategy of the adult active supervision

Summary:  The results of this dissertation suggest that a brief training combined with self-management may increase the positive interactions of recess supervisors, which is a component of active supervision. Although the scanning and moving behaviors did not increase, visual analysis suggests possible increases in two interaction behaviors (e.g., praising and prompting) based on increased level, stability, or both; visual analysis was supported by greater magnitude in effect size as measured by Tau-U calculations. The data for the students did not demonstrate a change, with the problematic behavior of the students being very low through all phases. After the intervention phase ended, the supervisors did not independently use DBR’s and any possible increases were not maintained. In summary, the active supervision interactive behaviors of prompting and praising showed some increases in this study.


Lewis, T. J., Colvin, G., & Sugai, G. (2000). The effects of pre-correction and active supervision on the recess behavior of elementary students. Education & Treatment Of Children, 23, 109–121.


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