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Unformatted text preview: 359 Cognitive and Behavioral Practice 12, 359–370, 2005 1077-7229/05/359–370$1.00/0 Copyright © 2005 by Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved. Direct Behavioral Observation in School Settings: Bringing Science to Practice Matthew K. Nock, Harvard University Steven M. S. Kurtz, New York University Child Study Center Schools provide a useful, controlled setting for evaluating child behavior problems, yet direct observational coding procedures evalu- ated by child researchers have not been widely incorporated by practicing clinicians. This article provides a summary of procedures useful to clinicians performing direct behavioral observation in school settings. We describe the need for and usefulness of comprehen- sive school observations; provide a primer on the identification, definition, and assessment of target behaviors; and outline and dis- cuss specific clinical procedures, including formulating primary referral questions, interviewing teachers, describing the classroom context, and conducting the observation. We also provide practical advice for synthesizing the obtained information into a report that guides clinical intervention. A sample of school observation coding forms and guidelines for report writing are also included to facilitate the use of these techniques by clinicians and teachers involved with the child. pproximately 20% of school-aged children and ado- lescents (9 to 17 years old) suffer from a current di- agnosable mental disorder (Shaffer et al., 1996; U.S. De- partment of Health and Human Services, 1999). Rates of specific disorders vary, and this overall figure includes a wide range of potential problems, including difficulties with attention and concentration, aggressive or opposi- tional behavior, anxious or depressive behavior, substance use, and learning and mental disabilities. Given that vir- tually all children in the U.S. and other industrialized countries are required to attend school on a consistent basis, many of these behavior problems manifest in school settings and have a significant, negative impact on child development and social and academic functioning (Bark- ley, DuPaul, & McMurray, 1990; Cole, 1990; Kandel & Davies, 1986; Lambert & Sandoval, 1980). Psychologists and other mental health professionals are routinely asked to provide brief or, in some cases, ongoing consul- tation in school settings for a wide range of child behav- ior problems. This often takes the form of a school or class- room observation , which refers to measurement procedures in which child behaviors in the school or classroom are systematically monitored, described, classified, and ana- lyzed, with particular attention typically given to the ante- cedent and consequent events involved in the perfor- mance and maintenance of such behaviors. In fact, the recent reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabili- ties Education Act (2004) makes the performance of a school observation a required component of the initial...
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This note was uploaded on 01/16/2012 for the course BI 200 taught by Professor Potter during the Fall '11 term at Montgomery College.
- Fall '11