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Helping Students Improve Their Own Behavior

October 2016

Sarah & Jamie

Children with developmental and intellectual disabilities who monitor and evaluate their own behavior can significantly improve their ability to follow directions, according to research done by a BYU McKay School of Education professor and his students.

“Noncompliance is a common challenge that teachers deal with,” says Professor Blake Hansen. “We designed and tested a behavior program where the children were able to earn rewards for following directions.”

Hansen worked with students Sarah Wills and Jamie Wadsworth. Of the research experience Wills says, “Being involved from beginning to end—through reviewing literature, understanding experiment design, gathering and coding data, publishing results, etc.—was crucial for me.”

Hansen, a counseling psychology and special education professor, says, “Jamie and Sarah were very instrumental in getting the study written up, and they conceptualized and framed the way it ended up when it was printed.” Wills and Wadsworth wrote a paper on their research that appeared in the journal Remedial and Special Education. Both students have graduated and gone on to pursue graduate studies; they say that their mentored research experience at BYU contributed to their aspirations and their abilities to reach them.

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