Accepting the Challenge: A Behavioral Perspective on Improving Educational Performance

Beth Sulzer-Azaroff


During the second half of the twentieth century, schools have been encountering growing difficulties with student management, motivation and learning. Evidence documenting the seriousness of these problems was dramatically supplied in the report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education: A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform (1983). Applied behavior analysis has been addressing and discovering a host of successful strategies for ameliorating many of these issues, plus the methods for discovering others. Each of the high priority areas recently identified by the field of school psychology have been addressed by behavior analysis. This paper illustrates some of these applications within the areas of assessment, consultation, and methods for promoting a positive and productive classroom climate via effective management, motivation and instructional techniques that adjust to individual student needs and interests. The value and applicability of behavior analytic methods for discovering new findings of relevance to educational improvement are discussed, along with consideration of some of the pressing issues in need of extensive investigation, such as tactics for broadscale implementation of these methods. Nevertheless, sufficient procedures derived from this discipline now exist to create a major force toward promoting excellence in schools.

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Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

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