Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Susan M. Zgliczynski, PhD, Director; David A. Case, PhD; Janet R. Writer, PhD


adolescents, Behavioral disorders, behavior modifiers, education, Intellectual disability


Groups have been taught to use behavior modification procedures to train individuals with mental handicaps, including individuals who themselves have mental handicaps. This study extended the previous work in this area in three ways: (a) a new group, namely adolescents with learning and behavioral handicaps, was taught to use behavior modification skills; (b) these adolescents were trained to perform a more extensive role as behavior modifiers than has previously been demonstrated for mentally handicapped individuals; and (c) generalization of the behavior modification skills was examined across tasks and individuals. Assessment was made of the effectiveness of the adolescents' training as behavior modifiers in terms of (a) their ability to teach a simple classification skill to a preschool child, (b) their ability to teach the same preschooler another skill without benefit of further training, and (c) their ability to teach verbal knowledge about social skills to a peer. In addition, a multiple-choice test was administered to the adolescents both prior to and following their behavior modification training to assess their verbal knowledge of behavior modification principles, and anecdotal records were also collected. The instructional model specified when and under what conditions of the task the adolescents' behaviors should occur, and facilitated both the training of the adolescents and the evaluation of their skills in teaching the preschoolers. The model also provided for the definition of entire instructional sequences. The results gave clear evidence that these adolescents can be successfully trained as behavior modifiers. The adolescents showed reliable improvement from baseline to training in their ability to give instructions, to give corrective and physical prompts, to ignore off-task behaviors, and to praise correct responses. They also were able to complete successfully entire instructional sequences as specified by the model. The adolescents were also able to generalize their behavior modification skills to teach a different task to the same preschooler as well as to teach one of their peers. On the test of behavior modification principles, the scores of all three adolescents increased substantially, and anecdotal records generally supported the view that adolescents with learning and behavioral handicaps can be trained to be behavior modifiers. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access