The effectiveness of behaviour modification procedures in the secondary schools with limited teacher training and consultation time
The aim of the study was to examine the effectiveness of behaviour modification procedures in alleviating the problems of maladjusted children in the first year of six secondary schools. Teachers (N=39) acted as mediators of treatment procedures, with a psychologist acting as consultant. Interventions were conducted within the constraints of regular school settings, so teacher training and consultation time were limited. Outcomes for the behaviour modification approach (N-711) were compared with those for untreated maladjusted controls (N=92) and two comparison treatment conditions: parent counselling/teacher consultation (N=83) and group counselling (N=73). Treated children and controls were selected by a multiple criterion screen and were randomly allocated by class to the various conditions. Multiple measures of change were employed, including classroom observations, teacher ratings, sociometry, and measures of personality, attitudes, verbal and non-verbal ability and reading comprehension. Follow-up assessments were conducted at three points in time, the last being three years after the initial screening. Significant differences in favour of behaviour modification were recorded on all change measures, mostly in comparison with maladjusted controls and parent counselling/teacher consultation, and such differences were observed at each of the follow-up points. Group counselling showed a similar pattern of outcome to behaviour modification. In placing the present intervention in context, issues in the conceptualisation and assessment of maladjustment, and in the wider body of child therapy research are considered. The theoretical underpinnings of the behavioural approach are examined, and the relevant research literature in educational settings is reviewed. In discussion of the outcomes of the study, consideration is given to the complexity of the social and organisational context of such an intervention and to criticisms of the behavioural approach. On the basis of these considerations, recommendations for future interventions are offered.