Key Takeaway: Across three studies, students’ belief in a growth mindset only predicted increased engagement in math learning for those students who also had sufficient metacognitive skills to monitor their own learning.  Thus, metacognitive skills, when paired with a growth mindset, provide complementary skill sets and may be particularly beneficial for students in low socioeconomic school settings. However, the impact of these interventions could vary depending on contextual factors, such as socioeconomic status and teacher-student relationships, and should be taken into consideration. —Kristin Simmers 

In their article, “More Than Growth Mindset: Individual and Interactive Links Among Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Adolescents’ Ability Mindsets, Metacognitive Skills, and Math Engagement,” Wang et. al (2021) (University of Pittsburgh) emphasize the following key ideas in relation to Self-Regulation: 

  • Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) shows motivation can help learners; however, metacognitive skills are likely needed for students to fully engage with learning and monitor their overall progress.
  • Recent research suggests the impact of growth mindset may be context specific. Students from low socio-economic status (SES) contexts are more likely to demonstrate fixed mindsets about academic ability and are more likely to benefit from developing growth mindsets. 
  • If students lack sufficient metacognitive skills, a growth mindset alone may not increase learner engagement. As Wang et. al states, “Metacognitive skills may be necessary for students to realize their growth mindset.”
  • Positive teacher-student relationships are likely a significant factor in supporting the development of metacognitive skills and a growth mindset, as well as promoting academic engagement. 
  • Teachers should create environments that support metacognition and growth mindset within their specific contexts. 

Self-Regulated Learning (SRL)

To help further understand the lens of SRL in the context of metacognition and growth mindset, Zimmerman and Moylan’s (2009)1 SRL model proposes three phases of the learning process: forethought (before learning), performance (during learning), and reflection (after learning). In this model, metacognition is present in each stage, and it is plausible that students who are metacognitively able to monitor their learning process may also be more motivated to persevere and demonstrate a growth mindset. Conversely, if a student does not have sufficient metacognitive skills, simply believing in a growth mindset may not significantly improve student learning engagement. 

Math Metacognitive Skills & Growth Mindset

Flavell (1987)2 defines metacognition as the awareness and regulation of one’s thoughts, and Zimmerman & Moylan (2009)1 identify planning, monitoring and evaluating as three skills generally involved in metacognitive regulation. Meanwhile, Dweck (2000)3 defines growth mindset as a belief that intelligence is malleable, rather than fixed. Thus, the study shared in the article suggests that motivation may be beneficial to students, but metacognitive skills are also likely needed in order for students to optimally engage with math learning.4

Ultimately, academically vulnerable students may particularly benefit from metacognition & mindset interventions.4,5 

Summarized Article

Wang, M. T., Zepeda, C. D., Qin, X., Del Toro, J., & Binning, K. R. (2021). More Than Growth Mindset: Individual and Interactive Links Among Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Adolescents’ Ability Mindsets, Metacognitive Skills, and Math Engagement. Child Development. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13560

Summary By: Kristin Simmers—Kristin supports the MARIO Framework’s efforts to connect teachers and researchers to improve student learning.

Additional References:

  1. Zimmerman, B. J., & Moylan, A. R. (2009). Self-regulation: Where metacognition and motivation intersect. In D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Handbook of metacognition in education (pp. 299–316). New York, NY: Routledge. 
  2. Flavell, J. H. (1987). Speculation about the nature and development of metacognition. En F. Weinert y R. Kluwe (Eds.), Metacognition, motivation, and understanding (pp. 21-29).
  3. Dweck, C. S. (2000). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. East Sussex, UK: Psychology Press.
  4. Rosenzweig, E. Q., & Wigfield, A. (2016). STEM motiva- tion interventions for adolescents: A promising start, but further to go. Educational Psychologist, 51, 146–163. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2016.1154792 
  5. Schneider, W., & Artelt, C. (2010). Metacognition and mathematics education. ZDM-International Journal on Mathematics Education, 42 (2), 149–161.

Key Takeaway: Teacher language within general and special education classrooms differs for students with autism, resulting in potentially negative impacts. Numerous studies have shown that open-ended questioning and language-rich environments are linked to positive academic achievement and communication development, especially for students with disabilities like autism who may struggle in these areas. —Amanda Jenkins

By analyzing six types of teacher language (open-ended questions, language models, close-ended questions, directives, indirect requests, and fill-ins), Sparapani et al. (2021) found that teachers generally use more directives and close-ended questions when interacting with students with autism, “potentially limiting their opportunities to engage in rich exchanges that support learning and development.”  

The study looked at teacher language in kindergarten to 2nd grade general and special education classrooms and found that while special education classrooms had more language usage overall, both settings had language that consisted primarily of close-ended questions and directives (69% in special education classes, 60% in general education). Open-ended questions were rarely asked in either setting to students with or without autism. Numerous studies and research have shown open-ended questioning fosters active engagement, improves communication skills, decreases problem behaviors, and increases academic growth. 

As Sparapani et al. state, “These data might suggest a need for teachers to include scaffolds, modifications, materials, and/or other adaptations into classroom activities rather than rely on oral language, such as the use of directives and/or close-ended questions, for students with limited language and lower cognitive skills.” More research and development needs to be done to provide teachers with an understanding of the impact their language and questioning practices have on their students.

The authors also indicated that teacher language is related to the individual student’s symptom severity, vocabulary skills, and cognitive ability. The study used multiple standardized tests to determine base-line levels of functioning and skills of the individual participants. Then the researchers focused on the individual student experiences in general and special education settings through the use of video observations and analysis. In both settings, students exhibiting more severe autism symptoms were addressed with mostly directives and significantly less open-ended questions. Special education teachers were more likely to address individual students and general education teachers addressed students in groups more often. As Sparapani et al. state in the findings, “the language environment within special education classrooms may not adequately prepare students for the linguistic and social pragmatic directives within general education classrooms . . . [and] may create an instructional barrier for learners with autism who transition between settings.”  

As special education policy focuses on creating a least restrictive environment and as inclusion/collaborative classroom models increasingly become the norm, students with autism are spending more of their academic time in the general education setting.  This study highlights that it is the teachers and paraprofessionals responsibility to monitor the language used in their teaching practices and to ensure a language-rich classroom experience. Best practices, such as using open-ended questioning and language models, give all students the opportunity to develop academic and communication skills vital to success.

Summarized Article:

Sparapani, N., Reinhardt, V. P., Hooker, J. L., Morgan, L., Schatschneider, C., & Wetherby, A. M. (2021). Evaluating Teacher Language Within General and Special Education Classrooms Serving Elementary Students with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Published. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-021-05115-4

Summary by: Amanda Jenkins—Amanda strives to help students effectively communicate their strengths, weaknesses, and goals, and believes the MARIO Framework provides the structure and foundational skills for students to take ownership of their learning, inside and outside of school.

Key Takeaway: In the past two years, education all over the world has been forced to adapt and embrace online learning. Students and teachers alike had to become more proficient in using technology—some navigating with ease, and others finding it more challenging. However, just as educator presence and student self-efficacy is important and impactful in the classroom, these two factors are also crucial to successful online learning. —Nika Espinosa

Lim et al.’s (2021) study, “Making online learning more satisfying: The effects of online-learning self-efficacy, social presence, and content structure” is the first to consider how social presence may matter more when learners have lower online learning self-efficacy and, separately, when the content is less structured. Here, the authors analysed readily available research on topics such as online learning, learning satisfaction, social presence, and online learning efficacy to help guide their hypotheses and research questions. 

This study was conducted with university students in Singapore. In order to establish variables, the researchers focused on a single discipline, manipulated instructor presence through the use of vocal tone, and utilized the life events of a historical figure, which provided the authors with both structured and unstructured content. The authors also used four different videos that included one of the following factors: 

  • high instructor presence and structured content
  • low instructor presence and structured content
  • high instructor presence and unstructured content
  • low instructor presence and unstructured content 

The authors measured variables using 7-point scales, adapted to fit the context. The different hypotheses and research question studied are listed below:

  • Hypothesis 1 (H1): Online learning satisfaction is higher when instructor presence is high versus low.
    • The results show that there is a positive correlation between high instructor presence and online learning satisfaction, which is consistent with studies already published. It is clear that the students appreciated social presence during the lesson, especially when the lessons are unstructured. Lim et. al quotes Rosenthal and Walker (2020).1 and Wilson et.al (2018),2 “Instructor presence does not necessarily lead to more learning, but students have greater preference and liking of online formats with higher levels of instructor presence and find it easier to pay attention to those formats.”
  • Hypothesis 2 (H2): Online learning self-efficacy is positively associated with online learning satisfaction.
    • The authors also found that students with high online self-efficacy were observed to have more learning satisfaction. The consideration to develop online learning efficacy in students also aligns with the findings of Artino (2008),3 Lim (2001),4 and Womble (2007).5 
  • Hypothesis 3 (H3): The effect of instructor social presence on learning satisfaction is more positive for students with lower online learning self-efficacy.
    • The third hypothesis, however, did not prove to be statistically significant. Again, this connects to considerations for developing online learning self-efficacy in students in order to increase learning satisfaction. 
  • Hypothesis 4 (H4): The relationship between instructor presence and learning satisfaction is more positive for unstructured content than for structured content.
    • “The pedagogical takeaway here is that, even with highly structured content, instructor presence can enhance the learning experience, but it has more benefit for less structured content.” 
  • Research Question 1: Does learning satisfaction differ between unstructured and structured content?
    • The researchers found that there was no difference in learning satisfaction between the differences in content, and this could be attributed to different learning styles and preferences of students.

In conclusion, the findings suggest that we need to develop learner online self-efficacy and enhance instructor presence during online learning in order to develop self-directed learners that will benefit greatly from virtual lessons. Just as we develop our students’ self-efficacy and acknowledge the importance of our social presence during face-to-face learning, as the world continues to shift and technology becomes more prominent, we need to consider further enhancing our pedagogical practices for online learning.

Summarized Article:

Lim, J. R. N., Rosenthal, S., Sim, Y. J. M., Lim, Z.-Y., & Oh, K. R. (2021). Making online learning more satisfying: The effects of online-learning self-efficacy, social presence, and content structure. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/1475939x.2021.1934102

Summary by: Nika Espinosa – Nika believes that personalized learning is at the heart of special education and strives to collaborate with educators in providing a holistic, personalized approach to supporting all learners through the MARIO Framework.

Research author Sonny Rosenthal, Ph.D., was involved in the final version of this summary.

Additional References:

  1. Rosenthal, S., & Walker, Z. (2020). Experiencing live composite video lectures: Comparisons with traditional lectures and common video lecture methods. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 14(1), A08. https:// doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2020.140108
  2. Wilson, K. E., Martinez, M., Mills, C., D’Mello, S., Smilek, D., & Risko, E. F. (2018). Instructor presence effect: Liking does not always lead to learning. Computers & Education, 122, 205–220. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2018.03.011
  3. Artino, A. R. (2008). Motivational beliefs and perceptions of instructional quality: Predicting satisfaction with online training. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 24(3), 260–270. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2729.2007.00258.x
  4. Lim, C. K. (2001). Computer self-efficacy, academic self-concept, and other predictors of satisfaction and future participation of adult distance learners. American Journal of Distance Education, 15(2), 41–51. https://doi.org/10.1080/08923640109527083
  5. Womble, J. C. (2007). E-learning: The relationship among learner satisfaction, self-efficacy, and usefulness. Alliant International University. https://www.learntechlib.org/p/119496

Key Takeaway: Providing teachers with instructional strategies, coaching, and feedback to effectively manage student behavior will benefit teachers and students alike. Employing effective classroom management techniques can pave the way for positive teacher-student relationships and create a safe space for students to learn, improve behavior, and increase academic achievement. School leaders should look for opportunities to offer authentic, long-term, multicomponent professional development for classroom management practices, such as through peer coaching. —Bernadette Gorczyca

In the educational research article, “Professional development for classroom management: a review of the literature,” Wilkinson et al. (Department of Educational Psychology, University of Connecticut) present a review of empirical literature examining 74 professional development (PD) in-service studies on classroom management in the United States from 1984-2018. 

Wilkinson et al. (2021) set the stage for their review by first establishing research-based best practices for teacher professional development. As part of the review, the authors cite additional research that suggests, “PD opportunities should be job-embedded, occur long-term with ongoing supports (e.g., demonstrations, observations, feedback, reflection), focus on content, align with other school initiatives, provide opportunities for active learning, encourage collaboration among teachers, and include coaching.”1, 2, 3 

The article then establishes the importance of this review by drawing a link between classroom management practices and student achievement, finding that, “The ability of teachers to organize classrooms and manage student behaviour is critical to achieving positive educational outcomes for students.”4,5,6 

Unfortunately, there is a lack of classroom management pre-service training and training for teachers active in the field, especially for special educators and secondary teachers. Moreover, the training that is offered is often generic and short-term, leading to little development in skills and application.

Major takeaways from the article:

  • “A clear gap exists between what research shows regarding effective delivery of PD and what teachers in schools experience. Although generic, one-time PD aligns with practical logistics (e.g., time, expense, scheduling convenience), it is important to consider PD outcomes in the context of basic learning theory.”
  • Instead, school leaders should offer “multicomponent PD for classroom management as the most effective approach. Across all studies that demonstrated desired results, the most frequently identified components of effective PD were didactic training, coaching, and performance feedback.” When persistent challenges continue after attending PD training, schools can organize internal, ongoing additional supports such as one-to-one coaching and/or performance feedback for individual teachers. 
  • Moreover, classroom management training should “[make] appropriate adaptations and considerations for the cultural and contextual characteristics of teachers, school settings, student needs, and community values.”
  • Future research should include:
    • an analysis of classroom management strategies and an examination of PD components and the effect on teacher/student behavior in order to develop innovative, effective PD practices; 
    • studies dedicated to secondary teachers as well as K-12 elective and special education teachers.

Summarized Article:

Wilkinson, S., Freeman, J., Simonsen, B., Sears, S., Byun, S. G., Xu, X., & Luh, H.-J. (2021). Professional development for classroom management: a review of the literature. Educational Research and Evaluation, 1–31. https://doi.org/10.1080/13803611.2021.1934034 

Summary by: Bernadette Gorczyca – Bernadette loves the MARIO Framework because it centers student voice and choice, empowering students to take ownership over their personalized learning journey to become confident, self-directed learners

Additional References:

  1. Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M. E., & Gardner, M. (2017). Effective teacher professional development. Learning Policy Institute. https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/sites/default/files/product-files/Effective_Teacher_Professional_Development_REPORT.pdf
  2. State, T. M., Simonsen, B., Hirn, R. G., & Wills, H. (2019). Bridging the research-to-practice gap through effective professional development for teachers working with students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 44(2), 107–116. https://doi.org/10.1177/0198742918816447
  3. Yoon, K. S., Duncan, T., Lee, S. W.-Y., Scarloss, B., & Shapley, K. L. (2007). Reviewing the evidence on how teacher professional development affects student achievement (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2007–No. 033). U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest. https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/regions/southwest/pdf/rel_2007033_sum.pdf
  4. Korpershoek, H., Harms, T., de Boer, H., van Kuijk, M., & Doolaard, S. (2016). A meta-analysis of the effects of classroom management strategies and classroom management programs on students’ academic, behavioral, emotional and motivational outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 86(3), 643–680. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654315626799
  5. Oliver, R. M., & Reschly, D. J. (2007). Effective classroom management: Teacher preparation and professional development. National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED543769.pdf
  6. Stronge, J. H., Ward, T. J., & Grant, L. W. (2011). What makes good teachers good? A cross-case analysis of the connection between teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Journal of Teacher Education, 62(4), 339–355. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487111404241

Key Takeaway: The implication of this review is that a lack of preparation prior to supporting students with disabilities in PE class, particularly those with visual impairments, can lead to indirect and direct bullying of the students by teachers, paraeducators, and peers. As special educators, we must include PE teachers and paraeducators in IEP meetings and ensure they feel prepared to modify and adapt their program for learners with disabilities. —Erin Madonna

Lindsay Ball and colleagues completed a systematic review of the literature around bullying of students with visual impairments in the Physical Education (PE) setting. The purpose of their review was to describe the current experiences of youth with visual impairments in order to develop avenues for future research around issues of bullying in physical education classes. 

For the study, 114 participants reported on their experiences in PE with a broad age range represented due to the retrospective nature of some of the included studies. Ball et al. (2021) oriented their work with the definition of bullying posed by Chester et al. (2015)1 and Stough et al. (2016);2 Bullying is “the intentional behavior to physically or emotionally harm another, which occurs through an imbalance of power.” Exclusion of youth with visual impairment, when done with intention, was considered bullying in the context of this review. The team focused their review around three questions:

  • “What types of bullying are youth with visual impairments experiencing during PE?”
  • “When/how does the bullying take place and by whom?”
  • “What are the outcomes of the bullying?”

Overwhelmingly, this review makes clear just how common bullying of youth with visual impairments is in the PE setting. As they describe the frequency found within the studies they reviewed, Ball et al. (2021) point to the findings of Bear et al. (2015)3 reporting that young people with visual impairments are likely to be bullied twice as frequently as peers without disabilities. Social-relational bullying was by far the most common form found in the reviewed studies, with 86% of studies reporting exclusion, marginalization, isolation, and other forms of discrimination present in PE experiences. Dishearteningly, 93% of studies indicated that the bullying occurred during PE class time with 93% of studies showing peer-to-peer bullying and 50% of studies revealing the bullying was perpetrated by the educators themselves.

While the rate of bullying may appear shockingly high, it is upon review of Ball et al.’s (2021) data where we begin to understand the systematic structures which have allowed for this bullying to persist. “PE teachers are often ill prepared to teach children with visual impairments due to a lack of adequate preparation. This lack of knowledge leads to unnecessary exclusion, both intentional and unintentional, of students with visual impairments from participation during PE.” 

Underprepared educators are unable to create an environment where students with visual impairments are empowered and included. As Ball et al. (2021) point out “efforts made by teachers to promote a climate that is autonomy-supportive are the foundation of positive perceptions of inclusion, according to the perspectives of children with disabilities.”

They even go further to share Jimenez-Barbero et al.’s (2020) recommendation that, “when Universal Design for Learning is utilized in PE, all students with or without disabilities benefited from it. Physical educators can create a climate of acceptance and empathy that fosters participation by all students which may lead to increased self-esteem and decreased bullying of students.”

When considering the outcomes of the bullying experienced, Ball et al. (2021) describe how negative feelings towards physical education can persist through adulthood, often manifesting in the form of avoidance of physical activities. This impact has long-reaching implications for the health and well-being of those with visual impairments. Allowing youth with visual impairments to participate fully in physical education classes, rather than restricting their participation because of a fear of risk, perception of weakness, or other limits has the potential to positively impact their self-esteem. “Autonomy, competence, and dignity of risk are all critical components of an individual’s self-determination, which has a large influence on an individual’s motivation to participate in physical activity.”

Ball et al. (2021) also touch upon the question of self-advocacy as a possible counter-action to bullying. In the majority (86%) of participant responses, no resolution to the bullying occured. There was evidence that when the student with visual impairments ceased to be perceived as an “easy target,” the bullying also ceased. If students with visual impairments are supported in harnessing the power of their own voice, we provide alternate paths to confronting bullying and changing the paradigm that has allowed bullying to persist in PE classes.

It is important to note that this review was limited in part by the fact that not much was known about the participant’s backgrounds or the training of the PE teachers and paraeducators involved. The retrospective nature of some of the included studies may also have resulted in details being forgotten or reported PE practices being inconsistent with current practices.

Summarized Article:

Ball, L., Lieberman, L., Haibach-Beach, P., Perreault, M., & Tirone, K. (2021). Bullying in physical education of children and youth with visual impairments: A systematic review. British Journal of Visual Impairment, 02646196211009927.

Summary by: Erin Madonna — Erin philosophically aligns with the MARIO Framework’s deeply rooted belief that all learners are capable, and she firmly believes in MARIO’s commitment to the use of evidence-based practices drawn from the field of multidisciplinary research.

Research author Lauren J. Lieberman, Ph.D., was involved in the final version of this summary.

Additional References:

  1. Chester, K. L., Callaghan, M., Cosma, A., Donnelly, P., Craig, W., Walsh, S., & Molcho, M. (2015). Cross-national time trends in bullying victimization in 33 countries among children aged 11, 13, and 15 from 2002 to 2010. The European Journal of Public Health, 25(Suppl. 2), 61–64. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckv029
  2. Stough, C. O., Merianos, A., Nabors, L., & Peugh, J. (2016). Prevalence and predictors of bullying behavior among overweight and obese youth in a nationally representative sample. Childhood Obesity, 12(4), 263–271. https://doi.org/10.1089/chi.2015.0172
  3. Bear, G. G., Mantz, L. S., Glutting, J. J., Yang, C., & Boyer, D. E. (2015). Differences in bullying victimization between students with and without disabilities. School Psychology Review, 44(1), 98–116. https://doi.org/10.17105/SPR44-1.98-116

Key Takeaway: Developing strong relationships with your students that are characterized by closeness and support can act as a protective factor for the students. Teachers can stimulate prosocial behaviours through this relational model, as well as help the child to feel included in and develop positive attitudes towards the school climate.  —Ayla Reau

Previous research has already identified that a “good quality teacher–pupil relationship is a protective factor for the child’s development,” lowers the risk of victimization, and increases the chance for inclusion in the peer group. The authors of this study, Longobardi, Settanni, Lin, and Fabris, from the University of Turin’s Department of Psychology, wanted to further investigate whether teacher-pupil relationships are positively associated with students’ higher levels of prosocial behaviour. The study considered the perspectives of both the teacher and student in the perceived relationship. 

Longobardi et al. define prosocial behaviour as “actions aimed at favouring other people,” meaning behaviours that involve a cost for the self and result in benefits for others. Prosocial behaviours are especially important to develop since children with increased prosocial behaviours tend to have “more positive outcomes, both in the social domain (e.g. peer acceptance or peer victimization) and in the non-social domain (e.g. academic success).” 

The results of the study concluded that a teacher-student relationship that is characterized by closeness, affection, and support is positively associated with higher levels of prosocial behaviour in the student. This is likely the case as in these relationships teachers can become a reference adult, “offering relationship models that the child can acquire, develop, and replicate in peer interactions.” Teachers also play a role in mediating relationships between classmates, helping them manage conflict, encouraging correct behaviors, and discouraging incorrect behaviours. 

The authors also examined the mediating effects on teacher-student relationships and prosocial behaviours for the following two factors: attitude towards school and academic competence. They found that only attitude towards school was a predictor of prosocial behaviour. One possible explanation given was that “academic competence is not always associated with greater acceptance and popularity in the peer group.” On the other hand, attitude towards school was found to be a mediator, likely because meeting students’ needs of relatedness, competence, and autonomy, results in more positive attitudes towards school and more involvement in the school content. A teacher can help a student develop a positive attitude towards school, which in turn could facilitate the development of prosocial behaviours.

Ultimately, prosocial behaviours “tend to correlate negatively with aggression and the risk of victimization and predict greater student adaptation and more positive school outcomes.” These behaviours can be developed through a close relationship with a teacher. Teachers can offer a supportive relational model and help the student develop more positive attitudes towards school, which this study found is directly associated with the increase in prosocial behaviour. However, Longobardi, Settanni, Lin, and Fabris do warn us that we must exercise caution in the interpretation of their data as more research should be done on the causality and directionality of these relationships.

Summarized Article:

Longobardi, C., Settanni, M., Lin, S., & Fabris, M. A. (2021). Student–teacher relationship quality and prosocial behaviour: the mediating role of academic achievement and a positive attitude towards school. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 91(2), 547-562.

Summary by: Ayla Reau — Ayla believes that one-to-one conversations, through the MARIO Approach, are the key to understanding and unlocking a student’s potential.

Key Takeaway: This article provides educators with a manual on how to utilize positive and proactive behaviour management strategies to improve student engagement in virtual environments using platforms like Zoom or G Suite. Consistent, clear routines and expectations, explicit teaching of the desired behaviour and opportunities for communication between students and teacher have resulted in higher engagement and learning outcomes. —Frankie Garbutt

“High-levels of classroom engagement and on-task behaviour have been linked to positive outcomes for students,” says Renee Speight (University of Arkansas) and Suzanne Kucharcyzk (University of Arkansas) in this article of the Journal of Special Education Technology. The authors argued that strategies of Positive Behaviour Interventions and Supports (PBIS), used to” facilitate improvements in student engagement,” should be adjusted to the virtual environments as part of teachers’ “instructional repertoire.”

Speight and Kucharczyk outline that PBIS is a “system of support involving direct instruction of expected behaviours and modification of the classroom environment through antecedents and consequences to promote student demonstration of expected behaviours.”

The following strategies have been identified as “high-leveraging practices for inclusive educational environments:”

  • Creating clear routines: This applies to aspects of a lesson like readiness to learn, instructional routines as well as task submission. Such routines will “minimize the labour required to re-create learning processes with the shifts from in-classroom to virtual learning.”
  • Explicit instruction on expected behaviours: “Teachers should identify three to five behaviours critical to a positive and productive virtual learning session” and “steps should be taken to explicitly teach” these. This could be complemented by visual depictions of the expected behaviours
  • Prompting and acknowledging expected behaviour: Once behaviours are identified and taught, teachers should “use precorrection” (like prompting) “at the onset of instructional sessions or shifts in teaching arrangements, such as when students move into breakout sessions.” To individualize prompting, teachers could use the chat feature in Zoom or G Suite.
  • Opportunities to respond: Teachers should consistently create opportunities to respond “to increase active engagement” by using tools such as “polls and participant nonverbal responses” as well as “Google Forms.” To allow for equal participation, students should be given wait or thinking time prior to responding.
  • Access to reinforcers: Reinforcement of “desired behaviour changes” ought to be “guided by student preferences which can be determined by using preference assessment” through tools like Google Forms. In virtual sessions, it is crucial that access to reinforcers are regular and miscellaneous.

The authors concluded that the practices of PBIS, embedded into the virtual learning setting, can result in students demonstrating expected behaviours and facilitating “high levels of engagement and learning.”

Article summarized

Speight, R., & Kucharczyk, S. (2021). Leveraging Positive Behavior Supports to Improve Engagement in Virtual Settings. Journal of Special Education Technology, 36(2), 90–96. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162643421992704

Summary by: Frankie Garbutt — Frankie believes that the MARIO Framework encourages students to become reflective, independent learners who progress at their own rate.

Key Takeaway: The core of personalized learning lies in the direct engagement with our learners through one-to-one sessions and one-to-one conferences. This engagement allows students to connect, identify, activate and be empowered throughout their personalized learning journey. —Michael Ho

Summary: Nick James Gore, Peter McGill, and Richard Patrick Hastings share their independent research study that examines the impact of direct engagements with learners who have intellectual and developmental disability (IDD).

The study aims to: 

1) guide learners to develop a goal selection procedure 

2) engage directly with children to identify personalized goals and priorities for their future support

Here are the major takeaways

  • The study had 14 participants, aged 4 to 15, go through a Talking Mat (TM) method. The TM method consists of a set of symbols relevant to a subject area; the participants were asked semi-open questions in relation to each symbol and invited to identify their views, feelings, and experiences on the corresponding mat. The researchers could interview 9 out of 14 children. These 9 children were able to understand the TM framework, as they were able to express their views and experiences and select personalized goals.
  • “Direct engagement with people who have intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) reflects the person-centered values of positive behavioral support (PBS) but also a human rights agenda.” Most of the time, PBS involves the family and other stakeholders to support the child. However, this study found that direct engagement with children who have IDD, which was reflected in the researchers’ guidance and their interaction with the participants during the TM sessions, is at the heart of PBS.
  • Overall, children in the study appeared “happy and confident to work with the researcher in the context of proactive supports.” This indicates that when adults are able to directly engage with and actively support the learner, students will become happier and build more self-confidence.
  • “Positive behavioral support (PBS) seeks to enhance skills, opportunities, environments and interactions in ways related to an individual’s specific needs and aspirations and reduce risk of behaviors that challenge over both the short and longer term”. As researchers engaged in direct engagement with the children and provided them with quality guidance, the opportunities, environments, and interactions of what makes up PBS are enhanced.
  • The study shows that the researchers’ direct engagement with children with IDD led to greater increase in the childrens’ choice-making opportunities and self-determination.
  • “This study provides initial evidence of the potential for direct engagement with children/young people with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) through a structured process to identify priorities and goals for future behavioral support.” However, future policy in education should also emphasize direct engagement with learners who have specific needs.
  • The direct engagement between the researchers and children led to establishing a stronger relationship and rapport with both the children and their families.

This study had some limitations, such that the data from this study was not compared to data from other sources. It was also not possible to complete interviews with five other participants, all of whom had limited verbal skills or were non-verbal. Despite the limitations, this study provided evidence that one-to-one engagement with children with IDD led to the development of personalized goals

Further research is needed to engage in direct engagement with a wider range of learners and to examine how these goals could support development of effective interventions and assessments

Article Summarized:

Gore, N.J., McGill, P. & Hastings, R.P. Personalized Goals for Positive Behavioral Support: Engaging Directly with Children who have Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. J Child Fam Stud 30, 375–387 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-020-01867-2

Summary By: Michael Ho – Michael supports the MARIO Framework because it empowers learners to take full control of their personalized learning journey, ensuring an impactful and meaningful experience.