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The Effects of Technology on the Motivation of Students with EBD

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CEP 953 Teachers and Technology Summer 2013 Dr. Ralph Putnam

Mini Literature Review: “How Does Technology Affect the Motivation of Students with EBD?”

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Introduction Statement of the Problem Numerous studies have been published on how technology has been utilized in schools to address the motivational issues of general education K-12 students and college/university students. However, a paucity of studies exists that examine how technology can be utilized to address the motivational issues of emotionally and behaviorally disordered (EBD) students. Because of this gap in the literature, I had to review several studies that were based on the effects of technology with general education students, but I was able to find a few that examined the effects of technology with at-risk (due to severe behavioral and academic deficits) and learning disabled children. With these studies, I will attempt to address the aforementioned gap in the research by closely examining how the characteristics of students with EBD align with the characteristics of the at-risk and learning disabled students in the studies and explore the possibilities of how technology may affect the motivation of students with EBD. Academic and Behavioral Deficits Historically, teachers and researchers have been quick “to investigate and implement behaviorally focused interventions, with the hope of improving behavior and, in turn, producing positive results in academic areas” (Templeton, Neel, & Blood, 2008 , p. 226). Within these studies, academic interventions were not utilized to directly address the myriad of academic skill deficits of these students (i.e., deficits in reading and comprehension, deficits in mathematical computations and comprehension, poor study habits, difficulty remaining ontask, poor organizational skills regarding school supplies and assignments, poor time

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management skills, etc.) but rather to specifically address and diminish the problematic behaviors exhibited with little or no regard to improving these students’ academic skills. According to National Council for Special Education (2012), students with EBD oftentimes exhibit anti-social behaviors that seriously challenge the milieu of the classroom. These behaviors include actions which seriously disrupt the work of the classroom on a sustained basis. Such behaviors include: • • • • violent physical aggression towards other students and towards teachers sustained and offensive verbal assault refusal to take part in classroom activities shouting, bullying and disrupting the classroom in a manner that does not respond to repeated efforts on the school’s part to control such behavior • • • throwing books, chairs and desks consistently destroying their own work and the work of others kicking, punching, biting

Despite the link between behavior and achievement, a paucity of research has been conducted regarding interventions for improving the academic skill deficits of students with EBD (Bottge, Rueda, & Skivington, 2006; Mooney, Epstein, Reid, & Nelson, 2003; Pierce, Reid, & Epstein, 2004) resulting in a need for research to be conducted to focus on effective efforts to build skills and motivation, not just to suppress anti-social behaviors. Academic and Socio-Emotional Challenges Understanding and mastering even the most basic concepts and applications of course subject matter is one of the most challenging academic difficulties experienced by students

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with EBD. The deficits experienced by these students either stabilize or worsen with age, which may explain why more than half (56%) of adolescents with EBD are at least three grade levels behind (Blackorby, Chorost, Garza, & Guzman, 2003) oftentimes due to adverse issues and related internalizing behaviors such as significant gaps in their prior knowledge, low selfesteem, self-fulfilling prophecies of failure, low tolerance level for stress, desire to “save face” and exhibit off-task behaviors rather than allow their peers to discover how little they understand the material being covered, history of out-of-school suspensions and missed instruction time, apathy, and lack of intrinsic motivation to learn. Additionally, externalizing behaviors, such as aggression and delinquency, have also been directly linked to the academic achievement deficits of students with EBD (Mattison, Spitznagel, & Felix, 1998). Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation Students with EBD oftentimes lack motivation to remain on-task, which can diminish the facilitation of learning, due to a myriad of reasons to include, but not limited to, past failures in classwork and homework, frustration with being behind one or more grades levels (usually at least three grade levels) in one or more subjects, fear of embarrassment if their peers discover their marked academic deficiencies, and apathy. Therefore, I sought out research on interventions found to be effective in teaching students with EBD. Several studies and Internet sites discussed the effectiveness of utilizing interactive whiteboards (IWBs) for initially motivating extrinsically. Extrinsic motivation is motivation that comes from outside an individual and affording rewards (Dev, 2006). In regards to the IWBs, Weimer (2001) posits that the affordances of IWBs can be extrinsically motivating and rewarding to students. These affordances and rewards include being able to write in different colors in the board without

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using ink, tactile manipulation of objects on the board, having students’ work projected on the board from an overhead projector, engagement in an academic activity that students may deem fun and not mundane, and the ability to erase problems or figures without leaving behind ink residue. According to Weimer, these affordances and rewards have the potential to birth intrinsic motivation (i.e., motivation that comes from inside an individual rather than from any external or outside rewards, such as money or grades) within students to remain on-task and afford themselves increased opportunities to comprehend and learn the coursework being presented. Dev (2006) conducted a study on intrinsic motivation relating to students with learning disabilities and noted three psychological needs that motivate an individual intrinsically: A desire to feel self-determining, a desire to feel competent, and a desire to feel connected to others. The SMART Board allows students with EBD to meet all three needs. Laffey, Espinosa, Moore, and Lodree (2003) conducted a study in which they introduced technology to facilitate engaging experiences with the curriculum and the feeling of academic success in mathematics and behavioral success (i.e., decreased disruptive and defiant behaviors) among 187 young, urban, African American children from low socioeconomic status households in a large Midwestern city. The students in the not-at-risk treatment group outperformed the at-risk students in the comparison group in mathematics achievement. The results revealed scores that were very high and represented an almost universal high attention and extrinsically motivated engagement with the technology experience. Regarding behavioral success, there was a significant difference in behavior for the at-risk children who were taken from class where they were frequently acting out or being disciplined to the technology

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experience, where for 20 to 25 minutes they intently engaged in the technological task. However, after returning to the classroom these children were often being disciplined for inappropriate behavior within 60 seconds. The results of this study suggest that technology may have increased their extrinsic motivation but not their intrinsic motivation. Possible Learning Styles of Students with EBD Students with EBD also may learn in different ways from their non-EBD peers, both cognitively and socially. These students often present with special needs that are commonly inherent with being emotionally and behaviorally disordered, such as learning disabilities and/or pervasive developmental disorders (i.e., Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder), possible mental disorders and culture-bound syndromes, as well as physical, visual, auditory, and tactile disabilities and impairments. According to Lane (1993), regarding Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and learning styles, the learning styles of students with EBD will likely include one or a combination of the following: visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, or logical-mathematical. Bell (2002) argued that technology, such as the SMART Board and other versions of interactive whiteboards, helps students with various disabilities and/or different learning styles learn more effectively due to the plethora of affordances, possibilities, and extrinsic motivational aspects it offers. Bell further posits that this, in turn, may increase these students’ on-task behaviors and potentially their intrinsic motivation to learn. Visual-spatial learners can see their work projected on a projection screen on the classroom wall and gain immediate feedback on their work. Interpersonal and/or musical learners can use different computer software to interact with the interactive whiteboard. Intrapersonal learners tend to shy away from others and may learn

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best through independent study using a computer with the Internet since they are the most independent of the learners. Bodily-kinesthetic learners can use different colored pens afforded to them by the interactive whiteboard to write out and highlight important ideas. Linguistic learners have highly developed auditory skills, often think in words, and may learn best by encouraging them to say and see words enlarged, highlighted, or juxtaposed on the interactive whiteboard. Logical-mathematical learners think conceptually, abstractly, are able to see and explore patterns and relationships which can be displayed and manipulated on the interactive whiteboard. Summary Despite the numerous studies that have been conducted by researchers examining the effects of technology on the motivation of general education students, a paucity of studies exists that examine how technology can be utilized to address the motivational issues of EBD students. This paucity of studies bespeaks of a pertinent gap in the research. Students with EBD experience a myriad of academic and socio-emotional challenges and often exhibit internalizing and externalizing behaviors when faced with tasks and assignments they may deem too challenging or undesirable. These students may also learn differently from their general education peers, and technology, such as the SMART Board and other versions of interactive whiteboards, helps students with various disabilities and/or different learning styles learn more effectively (Bell, 2002) due to the plethora of affordances, possibilities, and extrinsic motivational aspects it offers. This, in turn, may increase these students’ on-task behaviors and potentially their intrinsic motivation to learn.

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References Bell, S. (2010). Project-based learning for the 21st century: Skills for the future. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 83(2), 39-43. Blackorby, J., Chorost, M., Garza, N., & Guzman A.M. (2003). The academic performance of secondary school students with disabilities. In M. Wagner, C. Marder, J. Blackorby, R. Cameto, L. Newman, P. Levine, & E. Davies-Mercier. The achievements of youth with disabilities during secondary school. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International. Bottge, B., Rueda, E., & Skivington, M. (2006). Situating math instruction in rich problemsolving contexts: Effects on adolescents with challenging behaviors. Behavioral Disorders, 31(4), 394-407. Dev,P.C., (1996). Intrinsic Motivation and the Students with Learning disabilities. (ED 403723). Retrieved on April 23, 2007 from theWorld WideWeb: http://digitalcommons.libraries.columbia.edu/dissertations/AAI3005801/ Laffey, J.M., Espinosa, L., Moore, J., & Lodree, A. (2003). Supporting learning and behavior of at-risk young children: Computers in urban education. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 35(4), 423-440. Lane, C. (1993). The distance learning technology resource guide. Distance Technology Resource Network. Retrieved from the World Wide Web: http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html Mattison, R. E., Spitznagel, E. L., & Felix, B. C. (1998). Enrollment predictors of the special education outcome for students with SED. Behavioral Disorders, 23, 243 –256.

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Mooney, P., Epstein, M.H., Reid, R., & Nelson, J.R. (2003). Status and trends in academic intervention research for students with emotional disturbance. Remedial and Special Education, 24, 273–287. National Council for Special Education (2011a). The education of students with challenging behaviour arising from severe emotional disturbance/behavioural disorders. Trim: NCSE. Pierce, C.D., Reid, R., & Epstein, M.H. (2004). Teacher-mediated interventions for children with ebd and their academic outcomes. Remedial and Special Education, 25(3), 175-188. Templeton, T.N., Neel, R.S., & Blood, E. (2008). Meta-analysis of math interventions for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 16(4), 226-239. Weimer, M. J. (2001) The influence of technology such as SMART board interactive whiteboard on student motivation in the classroom. Available online at: http://smarter kids.org/research/paper7.asp (accessed February 12, 2009).